Old volanic hill with vineyards set against a blue sky and white clouds with a foreground of lush vegetation

2023 Grateful 22: Stories and Wine

Some time ago, we had the good fortune to be introduced to the folks over at Fehérvári Borbirtok in Somlószőlős. Since then, when we’re in the area, we pop in to chat and buy more wine.

A couple of visits ago, they shared the good news that their Brut Reserve had won the Champion Medal at the 2023 VinAgora International Wine Competition in Hungary.

Certificate from VinAgora international wine competition - back ribbon on top with gold lettering saying OKLEVÉL. Then in gold on white - CHAMPION MEDAL - Brut NV - Fehérvári Birkok - 2023

This year, 916 wines were entered with 6 awarded Champion medals. To rank so highly in this competition as a newcomer to the sparkling wine market is quite an achievement.

I have my favourites. My order always includes their Sárfehér, their Tramini, and their Petit Somló. When it comes to bubbles, I’m a fan of the Brut and the Furmint.

The Furmint took gold in the MUNDUS Vini spring tasting earlier this year.

242 wine experts from 46 nations met in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse, Germany, at the end of February 2023 to intensively, critically and, of course, blindly taste and evaluate more than 7,500 wines from all over the world on a total of 6 intensive tasting days.

What makes these wines special though, apart from the superior quality, is the backstory and the family’s passion for their product.

Without exception, visitors I’ve brought to their tasting table, all wine lovers with discerning palates, remark on the experience. And the stories. And the history.

Elderly man in a white shirt and vest holds a glass of wine as he stands in a wine cellar with wine barrels in the background

There’s a date on their labels – 1545 – the first written account of the family’s winery in the region. Károly, the octogenarian patriarch of the family, loves to show old black-and-white photos of his parents working in the vineyard. The original cellar is now housed within the more modern facility, a living testament to their legacy.

He’s particularly proud of the volcanic hill on which the vineyard sits and offers account after account after account of the virility of the wines. Somló wines make boy babies – something to do with having 6x more magnesium.

Inside him is a book waiting to be written.

Hungarian wine culture dates back to Roman times and has survived many political, religious and economic challenges, including Islamic rule in the 16th century (when alcohol was banned) and the Phylloxera epidemic in the late 19th century.

Somló isn’t as accessible as some of the other wine regions in Hungary. It doesn’t have the added attraction of the Balaton like, say, Badacsony does. Or the international reputation of Tokaji. Or the tourist popularity of Villány.  Yet its natural beauty and its stillness set it apart. It’s a magical part of the country.


Am grateful to the inimitable MI for the initial introduction and to Zsuzsanna and Károly for their unfailing hospitality.

Visits serve not only to replenish our cellar, but they also have a restorative effect on my soul.

One Response

  1. The bookish will remember that Somló plays a significant part in Mikszáth’s ‘The Noszty Boy’s Affair with Mari Tóth’.

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