October 3, 2016

2794 HUNGARY - Vineyards

The Romans brought vines to Pannonia, and by the 5th century AD, there are records of extensive vineyards in what is now Hungary. Following the Magyar invasion of 896, Árpád rewarded his followers with vineyards in Tokaj. Over the following centuries, new grape varieties were brought in from Italy and France. Most of the production was of white wine. During the Ottoman invasion in the early 16th century, displaced Serbs brought the red Kadarka grape to Eger.

It was also during the Turkish occupation that the Tokaj region became known for dessert wines, harvested late to encourage noble rot. Tokaji aszú is mentioned in a document of 1571, and it was famously christened by Louis XIV of France (1638-1715) "Vinum Regum, Rex Vinorum" - Wine of Kings, King of Wines. After the Ottoman Empire ceded Hungary to the Austrians in 1699, the Germanic influence was felt with the introduction of grape varieties such as Blauer Portugieser. That influence also showed in the start in 1730 of the world's first vineyard classification in Tokaj, based on soil, aspect and propensity to noble rot.

From 1882, the phylloxera epidemic hit Hungary hard, with the traditional field blends of Eger and the many grapes of Tokaj being replaced with monocultures. The 20th century saw the introduction of modern grapes such as Zweigelt, which were easier to grow and to vinify than Kadarka. Since 1989, there has been renewed interest in the traditional varieties and a lot of new investment, particularly in Tokaj-Hegyalja. The current official list of wine regions of Hungary includes 22 wine regions, which are usually grouped into five to seven larger regions.

If Hungarian whites, which comprise about 60% of the country's output, can be said to share a characteristic, reds are less distinctive. Hungary's most famous wine region is Tokaj wine region, which lies in the foothills of the Zemplén Mountains of the far north of the country - in fact the traditional area crosses into the southeast corner of modern Slovakia. The area is notable for its long warm autumns and mists that come in from the River Bodrog, creating perfect conditions for noble rot. For centuries the main product of the area was the sweet wine, mainly the Botrytised selections.

About the stamp

The stamp is the one issued by Hungary on May 6, 2016 for Europa Stamps 2016 Ecology in Europe - Think Green.

Hungarian wine - Wikipedia
Hungary - Jancis Robinson

Senders: Sandor Zaica and the Hungarian postcrossers who participated to the seventh Hungarian Postcrossing meet-up which held in Budapest on September 17, 2016
Sent from Budapest (Budapest / Hungary), on 19.09.2016
Photo: Csendes Dülö Szölöbirtok

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