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Magyar moments

Published:  23 July, 2008

Hungarian wine annual tasting
When? 7 March, 11am-4pm
Where? The Royal Opera House, London
On show: 260 wines from 27 wineries
Contact: Neil Gooch, RGS Group;
tel: 01892 664 855

Hungary in the UK

Hungary is currently having a tough time in the UK off-trade, particularly in the multiple grocers. Sales fell by 20% in 2005, from 793,000 nine-litre cases to 634,000 nine-litre cases (MAT, AC Nielsen to w/e 24 Dec '05). In the multiple grocers, sales dropped by 15%, from 560,000 cases to 478,000 cases. Sales were also down in the impulse sector - by 33%. But things were slightly better in the multiple specialists, with a 1% volume increase.

Myliko Wines

One of the UK's best-known importers of Hungarian wine and a long-term investor in the category, Myliko heads to London with a portfolio drawn from six of the country's best-known regions.

First up is a selection from the Torley Winery, produced under the guidance of Australian winemaker David Morrison. These will be joined by the wines of Chapel Hill and Nagyrede Estate - the latter Hungary's winery of the year in 2004. The Chapel Hill line-up includes a sparkling Chardonnay/Pinot Noir, a Pinot Grigio, and an oaked Chardonnay; while the newest offering from Nagyrede will be the Matra Hill brand, including an Irsai Oliver that the company reckons makes for an ideal medium-sweet house wine.

Our range of Hungarian wines offers something for everyone,' claims Myliko marketing director Nish Kotecha. Each label overdelivers at the preferred price point and exceeds in delivering the very best Hungary has to offer the UK consumer.'

The Royal Tokaji Company

A couple of diversions from the Tokaji mainstream are among the highlights on the Royal Tokaji Company table this year.

The company, which has seen global sales increase by 20% this year, will be showing off both the ATS cuve - a late-harvest wine named after winemaker Karsci Ats - and the dry white varietal Furmint. Both wines are currently sold by Laithwaites with a retail price of 8.99, with the dry Furmint also available for the same price at Lea and Sandeman.

Naturally, the company will also be keen to show off its core range of Tokaji Asz wines, as will other Tokaji producers such as Disznko, Chateau Megyer, Grof Degenfeld and Crown Estates.

Bottle Green/Riverview

Leeds-based supplier Bottle Green may be under new ownership, but its commitment to Hungary, in the shape of the Hilltop Neszmely winery, continues apace.

Hilltop leads the way in Hungary in terms of new plantings both within and beyond the borders of the company's home territory of Aszar-Neszmely. In the UK, the emphasis has been on the Riverview range, which has secured a number of listings in multiple retailers. The range takes in a Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio, a Sauvignon Blanc, a Gewurztraminer, a Cabernet Sauvignon Ros, a Kekfrankos Merlot and a Cabernet Sauvignon, all priced at 3.99.

Vencel Garamvari

One of Hungary's leading sparkling-wine producers, Vencel Garamvari, whose main winery overlooks Lake Balaton, will be travelling to London armed with Lellei, a brand that has been developed with British wine drinkers in mind.

The former winemaking director of Torley, Garamvari went it alone in 1997 when he snapped up a rundown cellar in Budafok on the outskirts of Budapest. After four years of rebuilding, he first started to earn plaudits for his sparkling brand, Chateau Vincent. Garamvari's agent in the UK is Wines of Westhorpe.