Pannonhalmi Foapatsag Pinot Noir 2011
In the ensuing decades, monks living in Pannonhalma did not give up hope of resuscitating their wine-making traditions. Since the fall of Communism, the monks have revived the viticultural traditions and the wineries. In 2000, the abbey repurchased vineyards that had been confiscated and began replanting grape vines in the same year.
The main grape varieties are Rhine Riesling, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer, and Welshriesling. In addition, they have planted the more international Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. They currently have 52 hectares under vine and the first harvest took place in autumn 2003.
Under the guidance of the well-respected and international winemaker Tibor Gal (he made Ornellaia for many years), all vineyards were replanted and a modern, three tier gravity flow cellar was built. Pannonhalma lies equidistant between Budapest and Vienna and is one of the smallest of Hungary’s 22 wine regions. Topographical conditions resemble those of the upper Loire Valley, Alsace, or Burgundy. Sustainable farming practices are used and the harvest is by hand. The wines produced at Pannonhalmi Apatsagi Pinceszet bear marks of its terroir and reflect its history and authenticity.
Best known for lusciously sweet dessert wines but also home to distinctive dry whites and reds, Hungary is an exciting country at the crossroads of tradition and innovation. Mostly flat with a continental climate, Hungary is almost perfectly bisected by the Danube River (known here as the Duna), and contains central Europe’s largest lake, Balaton. Soil types vary throughout the country but some of the best vines, particularly in Tokaj, are planted on mineral-rich, volcanic soil.
Tokaj, Hungary’s most famous wine region, is home to the venerated botrytized sweet wine, Tokaji, produced from a blend of Furmint and Hárslevelű. Dry and semi-dry wines are also made in Tokaj, using the same varieties. Other native white varieties include the relatively aromatic and floral, Irsai Olivér, Cserszegi Fűszeres and Királyleányka, as well as the distinctively smoky and savory, Juhfark. Common red varieties include velvety, Pinot Noir-like Kadarka and juicy, easy-drinking Kékfrankos (known elsewhere as Blaufränkisch).
Thin-skinned, finicky and temperamental, Pinot Noir is also one of the most rewarding grapes to grow and remains a labor of love for some of the greatest vignerons in Burgundy. Fairly adaptable but highly reflective of the environment in which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate and requires low yields to achieve high quality. Outside of France, outstanding examples come from in Oregon, California and throughout specific locations in wine-producing world. Somm Secret—André Tchelistcheff, California’s most influential post-Prohibition winemaker decidedly stayed away from the grape, claiming “God made Cabernet. The Devil made Pinot Noir.”