Liquid rocks – Györgykovács Nagy-Somlói Olaszrizling 2016

Imre Györgykovács (photo:

For the English speaking world there is no better guide to the wines of Somló than Alder Yarrow. His enthusiasm for the region which was ignited by the rare and highly distinctive juhfark variety seems to have no boundaries. In 2016 he returned to Hungary to explore Somló. In the process he has even managed to come up with an original and quite plausible explanation for the individuality of Somló wines (check the section on spring waters).

Mr. Györgykovács is one of the leading lights of Somló. Actually to my mind he is the leading light and not only of Somló but probably of Hungary’s main white variety olaszrizling (a.k.a. ‘welschriesling’). Ironically he is the only recognized winemaker of the region who doesn’t produce any juhfark.

The tiny estate is at crossroads, the furmint and hárslevelű vineyards have been sold to the local giant, Kreinbacher making the original 0.8 hectares even smaller. Mr. and Mrs. Györgykovács could no longer cope with the work load at harvests. Having lost so many of my wine heroes in the last decade – Bussay, Bukolyi, Tóth István, to name just a few – I’m filled with apprehension.

Somló (photo:

However there is nothing transitory or valedictory about the 2016 Olaszrizling. It’s as good as ever, confident, evocative and typical. The nose is profound and complex displaying characteristically strong chalky, alkaline, saline notes reminiscent of spring water and sea spray. There is not much fruit, the rest of the nose is made up of honey, quince and meadow flowers. Quite full-bodied, the palate is vibrant with acidity of different wave lengths, good grip and intense savoury aromas. The finish is long with good tension and distinctive saline and honeyed notes. A special wine.

7 points and 19 euros. This is still a landmark of the Hungarian wine scene.