Wine analysis

Rhine Riesling Spring 2012

"Clean, greenish-yellow colour. Lovely, oozing aromas of green apple and ripe gooseberry. Flavoursome wine with delicious acidity, juicy green apple and slight sweetness on the palate. Nice wine, reductive school."

Grüner Veltliner Spring 2012

"Fresh, zesty and tasty Grüner Veltliner with extremely good drinkability, harvested from old vines in Csobánc, tank fermented and rested for 10 months on the fine lees. Rich and long."

Rhine Riesling 2010

"Floral rich intense nose with plenty of grape fruit zest and fine drive. Dry with great precision, fresh acidity and lime and clean touch mineral notes fine and long finish. Very good." Kristian Kielmayer, March 2013

Lindenblättiger 2009

"Another one from the Badacsony region from the Villa Tolnay winery with the Lindenblättiger grape (Hárslevelű) which is also used to make the more sweet Tokay wines. Quite a bit of legs, coming from the rich 2009 vintage, which was indeed a hot vintage. There is a vanilla aspect coming from evident oak aging. Modern styled." Connections to Wine, September 2012

Rhine Riesling Spring 2007

"Tavasz means spring. Stainless steel made, half with stems. The idea is to bottle it early, in spring. Bright, correct Riesling character with very crystalline acidity and a little bit of residual sugar surely? 2007 was a very good year for Riesling in Hungary. Exotic fruit salad on the nose. Seems quite alcoholic." Jancis Robinson, February 2010

Welschriesling 2007

"Smoky nose. Lower yields for these non Tavasz wines. Pressed without stems and fermented in large Pfalz oak coopered in Austria and made by a Swiss. Aged for 6-9 months. Basalt mountains leap up from the plain. About 4-5 g/l RS deliberately. Mineral nose and then peachy and some (to me) curious oak. Slightly oily/musty." Jancis Robinson, February 2010

Grüner Veltliner 2007

"Light nose. Pleasant, balanced and nothing in excess but lighter than most Austrians." Jancis Robinson, February 2010

"In the last ten years we found our unique style of wine"

Interview with Philipp Oser, Owner and Chief Winemaker

What were your first impressions of the Badacsony wine region?

When I first came here, I experienced the terroir, the potential of the soil and the climate. I could sense it in some wines of the region, but I could not find the perfect wine that showed the true potential.

What was your experience during the past ten years?

My idea was to use the potential of the whole environment here and get it into the wine. To bring what you see here, what you smell here and what you sense here into the bottle. In the last ten years, I think we found our unique style of wine. We have learnt how we can translate the terroir character of Csobánc or Badacsony into our wines.

Which wine grape varieties do you work with?

Our main variety is Olaszrizling, of course. It is undoubtedly difficult to sell this wine outside Hungary, but I think it is important to preserve this grape here, because it is the grape which is able to bring the terroir character into the wine. We should use Olaszrizling as the ambassador of the terroir. We tried several grape varieties, had a few experiments with Hárslevelű and Pinot Gris, but, in the long run, we prefer Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. We planted Chardonnay, which nicely shows the potential of the volcanic soil. So, after ten years, we are still trying to find the grape variety that best fits into this environment.

We have Grüner Veltliner almost by accident, because this variety was planted around the house. However, I am quite happy with it, because we sell this wine even in Austria where, for example, Wachau's Grüner Veltliner is almost unbeatable. It is very difficult to enter the market from another country, but our wine runs quite well there and the sommeliers like it.

We have Rhine Riesling from Badacsony, since the first moment we started making wine. Its character is similar to German Rieslings.

As regards white wines, we will focus on two or three varieties in the upcoming years, and the same applies to red wines. From the reds we have Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot noir, and we also planted Cabernet Franc. I think we have to focus on single varietal wines.

How would you describe the style of Villa Tolnay wines?

The Villa Tolnay wines are strong in character (but not in alcohol), show high minerality and a well- integrated acidity. We mainly focus on the terroir, the soil. I think the way we produce wines is similar to the burgundy style. Harvest at the point, no high sugar content, strong focus on acidity. Harvest is done by hand of course, grapes are selected almost one berry at a time, so broken or botrytised berries are all removed, only the cleanest grape material goes to fermentation.

We work with 500-2000 liter oak barrels, French and German oak. I think that the oak from Pfalz is the best for our wines: it is very decent, not heavy. I think there is a difference between Csobánc and Badacsony. Badacsony is closer to Lake Balaton, which results in a softer microclimate. Csobánc is behind Badacsony, so we do not have the heat from the lake. The nights in Csobánc are a little bit colder and maybe a little bit windier, which produces a bit more acidity in the wines.

International outlook at Villa Tolnay

Winemakers from the Badacsony region in search for the best Rhine Rieslings and Pinot Noirs

At a wine tasting event organised by Philipp Oser, owner and chief winemaker of Villa Tolnay, wine producers from the Badacsony and Balaton region got an opportunity to sample some of the highest quality Rhine Rieslings from Germany and Pinot Noirs from Burgundy.

Philipp Oser, a great connoisseur of European wines, a refined gourmand and a passionate wine collector is obsessed with quality. To get an international perspective, he regularly attends tastings abroad together with Winery estate manager László Nagy, and use the knowledge gained during the trips in their professional work at the Csobánc winery.

Local winemakers were invited to a Rhine Riesling and Pinot Noir varietal tasting held at the Villa Tolnay on 29 March 2013. The participants are Tamás Borbély (Borbély Family Winery), Bence Laposa (Laposa Wine estate), Gyula Pálffy (Pálffy Cellar), Váli Boglárka and Péter Váli (Váli Wine).

The tasting titled "GG & GC" (Riesling Grosse Gewächse & Pinot noir Grand Cru's) featured some of the highest quality Rhine Rieslings from Germany and Grand Cru Pinot Noirs from Burgundy. The flight also included two wines from Villa Tolnay: a 2010 Riesling, aged in wooden casks, and a 2008 Pinot Noir.

"We are not afraid to include our wine in such an impressive selection, because it gives us an opportunity to learn and find out what we could do to improve our wine even more" - said László Nagy, Winery estate manager of Villa Tolnay.

"My favourite variety is Rhine riesling, so I have always striven to produce Rieslings of international standing. Our Riesling is closest to the wines from Pfalz" - said Philipp Oser and added: "one of the most common mistakes made with Hungarian Pinot Noirs is that winemakers wait too long to harvest, and the wine loses the elegance and finesse that has become the hallmark of this variety." Participants all agreed that they have never before seen such a strong wine flight. At the end of the tasting, participants chose the most beautiful Rhine Riesling: Dönnhoff Felsenberg Grosses Gewächs 2010 (an overwhelming wine, extremely rich in flavor, Winespectator 91 points) and the most beautiful Pinot Noir: Domaine Meo-Camuzet - Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 2007 (a well-rounded wine with a plummy note and outstanding acids, Winespectator 93 points).

Gyula Pálffy from Köveskál summarized the most important conclusions of the tasting:

"I really liked the Riesling selection, and the Pinot Noir even more. We have a lot to learn and develop to get to this level. These tastings help this learning process and offer an insight into the international elite. I am convinced that we have all the ingredients at hand, we are on the right path, we made some good wines, but we still haven't produced a truly 'great' wine. To get to this level, we need many years of experience and knowledge passed down through generations. I am lucky to have two boys behind me, so I can pass it all on to them. Currently, I work with 6-8 varieties of grape, and I am considering three more, including Rhine Riesling. Obviously, this is too much, but I do not know yet which of these will be the main variety of the estate in the long run. It may take many years to make this decision, but it is necessary."