A Taste of Germany & Hungary
For this week’s wine tasting, we sample refreshing and affordable wines from Weingut Schlossmühlenhof in Germany and a unique Chenin Blanc from Bencze in Hungary.
With Labor Day fast approaching, it’s difficult to imagine that the unofficial end of summer has almost arrived, especially as the heat has continued to be sweltering here in New York. As we sweat it out on the sidewalk, we wanted to focus this week on two white wines and one rosé to help lower our internal temperature. And what better way to celebrate than picking some wines from Germany and Hungary that will hold up well at the beach, your backyard, or local park.
On one end of the spectrum, we have Weingut Schlossmühlenhof from Kettenheim, Germany. Operational since 1846, their latest Boden Funk releases all clock in under $20, providing finesse and vivacious flavors at level well above their price point. On the other end of the spectrum, we have Bencze Birtok, a younger winemaker with several Hungarian vineyards that produce high quality wines above $30. No matter your budget or taste preferences, we hope that there’s something you can take home this week!
We figured the best way to start off the tasting would be with Sauvignon Blanc. As one of the most essential summer drinking staples, it’s hard to find someone who isn’t instantly cooled off by this refreshing grape varietal. This version from Germany leans toward less ripe, with fresh flavors dominating on the nose and palette.
But don’t mistake the low price for a lack of complexity. The Boden Funk is bursting with aromas of gooseberry and herbs on the nose. On the palette, the initial bomb of flavor is peppery layered with kiwi and a generous squeeze of lime acidity. As the wine opens up, we get some of those signature grassy notes you expect from Sauvignon Blanc. We appreciate the contrast between the intensity of the first sips and the hazy, comforting quality as the wine develops. This would pair would well with any simple, vegetable-forward picnic foods or lighter proteins like a grilled fish.
Our next German wine takes us into slightly more unexpected territory, taking Pinot Noir and making it into the most pale pink of rosés. Germany is often better known for its whites, but with tens of thousands of acres of Spätburgunder, it trails only France and the United States in potential output.
The Boden Funk is a bit of a sly fox in the glass, offering small, subtle shifts in flavor and texture that keep the wine intriguing. Beyond the immediate noticeable hue, this wine is cloudy with visible sediment lining the bottom of the bottle. The nose screams peach and strawberry with the lightly sweet peach notes developing through generous acidity into bursts of strawberry fruit. When the wine opens up, you really start to grasp its textural pleasures, with hints of pear or apple skin providing a slight weight in the mouth. If you let a sip sit long enough, you might also find tart cherry elements building into the finish.
If you’re interested in trying their other wines, we also have three other vintages in. Check them out here.
Bencze, Balatonmelleki Chenin Blanc (2018)
We can’t begin to express how bummed we are that this wine sold out in less than a week after we got it on the shelves. Though it may we gone, we still wanted to highlight this Chenin Blanc from Hungary because it resists traditional expectations of what you’d expect from this varietal, showing us how it is decidedly more New World than Old through its evolution in the glass.
The nose is an arresting mix of wood, soft flowers, and rich stone fruit. The palette upfront is quite syrupy, with a viscous texture that reveals apricots and white peach. As things evolve, we notice an unusual yogurt creaminess into the mid palette. This is a good thing as the wine was aged for quite a long time in oak barrels, which lends a structure that might otherwise be overwhelming. There is generous acid here but it’s softer than what we tend to see in other Chenin Blancs. If you’re an acid fiend, stick to a more classic bottle.
It might not be Pinot Noir season today, but you can also check out Bencze’s Pinot Noir. Still got your mind set on #CheninCheninChenin? We’d recommend Haarmeyer’s 2014 St. Rey, which brings a North American spin to things.
Until next time, happy sipping!