Annual reviewand financial statements
Tastings & EventsBrowse our NEW calendar
Pre-order the top wines
Excellent pinot noir at a daringly low price. What a find! Pinot noir grown in Hungary is often blended away, but this gem is packed with juicy red-fruit flavours and refreshing acidity, offering simply world-class value. Especially good served lightly chilled.
Product Code: HU1301
The Romans cultivated vines in Pannonia from the second century AD and despite a period of Ottoman Muslim rule in parts of Hungary during the 16th and 17th centuries and the dead hand of state control in the second half of the 20th Hungary has adapted well to the demands of a modern free market, and particularly an export driven one. Since the fall of communism in the late 1980s the Hungarian wine industry has garnered foreign and local investment and adopted modern technological and viticultural practises to improve the quality of the wines. The principal wine growing regions sit between 45o and 50o latitude, similar to Burgundy to the west. The continental climate of landlocked Hungary is one of extremely cold winters and long, hot summers followed by prolonged, usually sunny autumns. Lake Balaton, Europe’s largest lake, provides a moderating effect on winter and summer temperatures, as does the Tisza River that glides past the Tokaji region, the Neusiedlersee that the border region of Sopron shares with Austria, and the Danube for the winemaking areas of the north such as Transdanubia.The vineyards are spread all over the country so soil types are not homogenous over such a large area, but one common theme is the volcanic nature of many. The Great Plain area where much of Hungary’s more generic offerings originate is mostly sand and loess. Tokaji is Hungary’s most famous wine. Recent investment has paid dividends in re-establishing a reputation for greatness that was forged in medieval times and diluted during Communist rule when all wines were exported through a monopoly little interested in providing quality and these great sweet wines might even be pasteurised. The confluence of the river Tisza and a smaller, cooler tributary provides the conditions for the creation of the ‘Breath of God’, or morning mists, in the same way the merging of the Cerons and the Gironde do in Sauternes. This in turn encourages the formation of botrytis cinerea, a fungus that feeds on the moisture in a grape, concentrating the sugars and changing its structure. The result is some of the best and most luscious sweet wines in the world, made from the indigenous furmint, harslevelu, oremus or zeta, and koverszolo varieties, together with muscat.In the south-west, on the border with Croatia, the Villány-Siklós region is fast developing a reputation for excellent wines, and in the north-east is the Eger region, modern home to the famous and sturdy Bull’s Blood, arguably Hungary’s second most famous wine though not necessarily the origin of the widely exported brand of the last century.Although many international varieties such as cabernet sauvignon and franc, pinot noir, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc have been planted and are making excellent wines, the Hungarians have retained many native central European vines. Kadarka, kekfrankos (aka blaufränkisch), irsai oliver and the aforementioned furmint and harslevelu have a long history and can make characterful wines.The Hungarian authorities have developed an appellation system modelled on the French and Austrian versions and 22 regions are currently recognised.
"Opened direct from cellar and therefore quite cool. Sour cherry and redcurrant on the nose, not too pronounced, and the tart fruitiness continued initially on the palate, though quite bitter too, as already commented. The bitterness faded as it warmed up a bit. Good acidity stops any jammy fruit which is a fault of some cheap Pinot.
For that reason some might not like it served lightly chilled as suggested. Decent varietal characteristic, though no great length on finish. Worked quite well with beef in black bean sauce.
It's not Burgundy and never will be, but the for the price it's pretty decent and gives some Pinot character in a different way. Probably 3.5 stars, but for value 4. "
"I'm giving this five stars, normally I would give it only four but felt a little angsty reading some of the other comments, so I'm redressing the balance!
It's a £6.75 wine for goodness sake! And it shows that most elusive characteristic, delicious, fragile, true Pinot Noir character!
No, it does not make me want to go off and write poetry (which a great Pinot Noir would)... but at this price the wine is nothing short of a miracle and I'm ordering a couple of dozen before all you run it out of stock!"
I would recommend this wine
"I'm afraid I thought this was very much over-hyped. I found it thin, lacking fruit, and rather sharp, despite careful decanting, and certainly far from being "a wine that manages to combine true pinot noir character and downright deliciousness" as per the WS advertising. I should probably have paid less attention to the claim that it was "packed with juicy red-fruit flavours" and more to the reference to "refreshing acidity". Very disappointing indeed, given the hype."
"Better next day but still metallic aftertaste. Avoid"
"Pretty grim - metallic end and chemical nose. Foolishly purchased 6 bottles based on recommendations. "
"Perfectly drinkable, but very basic and thin. "
"Maybe at this price point it was too good to be true. Rather dull color, no depth of flavor and definitely no fruit as would be expected from a pinot noir. Maybe it was just past its prime, feel embarrassed as I gave 2 bottles away assuming the reviews were accurate. We tried 2 different bottles in case we had just bad luck with one. So left with 2 bottles that may just be used for cooking."
"At £6.75 this wine represents a real bargain! As noted by a previous reviewer, it won't set the world on fire but, there is the unmistakable taste of pinot noir there. Fuller than other pinot's it borders on jammy but still in my world, an enjoyable midweek glass of red."
I would recommend this wine
"Remarkable at the price. Reasonably complex, dry, fruity red. Punches well above its price. Easy to drink, and very satisfying. I will buy more. "
"A very, very light Pinot Noir, that sums it up really. Yes, it's only £6.75 so you really cannot expect too much, and we didn't. Thus the decent, light wine on offer was a bonus. WOrth the money - if you like a very light PN. "
"Pleasantly surprised at this wine tasting like a reasonable pinot noir at a bargain price. Pleasant change from many heavy reds.
Great value and you will not be disappointed at £6.75!"
"A delightful surprise. Better having been opened. Unusual and a refreshing change from"big reds""
Reader's Digest 16th Mar 2019
"British lamb roasts
are often accompanied by a big red, but pick something lighter for … lamb
salad. [This wine] has fruity cherry and redcurrant notes which work really
well … Rachel Walker"
joannasimon.com 14th Dec 2018
"Astonishing to find
something that tastes of pinot noir at this price – light and soft textured
with fresh, sweet berry fruit and pinot's delicate stemmy earthiness. Hats off
to the Society's Eastern Europe buyer. - Joanna Simon"
JancisRobinson.com 1st Dec 2018
inexpensive wine that really does taste (a bit) like Pinot. Spicy and only very
slightly syrupy. - Jancis Robinson"
The Daily Telegraph 1st Dec 2018
"New to The Wine
Society, this Hungarian pinot noir is all bright redcurrants, red cherries and
cool lines – seriously impressive at the price, and a joy to drink slightly
chilled. - Victoria Moore"
The Observer 18th Nov 2018
"Pinot noir’s elusive
forest floor earthiness and juicy red berry fruits are both in evidence in a
smart Hungarian bargain that is a good-value choice for those who favour a
lighter red with the turkey and trimmings. - David Williams"
Olive 16th Nov 2018
"Pinot noir is a
classically good match with turkey and
sits happily alongside many other things too – it’s
great for a Boxing Day cold cuts buffet, or when
you’re catering for picky eaters with different tastes.
[This wine] is astonishing value at £6.75 ... would be good served
slightly chilled to freshen jaded palates. - Kate Hawkings"
JancisRobinson.com 9th Nov 2018
"Pale ruby. Amazingly
inexpensive for a Hungarian wine! Smells of Pannonian-warmed Pinot. Certainly
not burgundy and fully mature. Very slightly syrupy but there is no flab. What
a steal! Polished and sweet but still refreshing. Very good value. 16/20"
Yorkshire Post 3rd Nov 2018
"From the Eger region
of Hungary this is a light, fresh cherry and strawberry-filled pinot. It goes
well with charcuterie, pâtés and simple pasta dishes. - Christine Austin"
Log in to view notes
We do moderate comments and reviews, purely to ensure that content published on The Wine Society's website is of value to members, and is fair and balanced. We're delighted to say that in the vast, vast majority of cases, our members' input is just that! We will normally approve comments for publication as long as they:
If a review or comment does not meet the rules above, then we may remove it from the site, and we reserve the right to do so at any time. Where we choose not to publish a rating, comment or review for a reason other than those listed here, we will reply to the member concerned by e-mail explaining our reasons and inviting them to make appropriate changes so that their input can be reconsidered. We also reserve the right not to publish reviews that mention other wine merchants and competitors.
Your review and your name will be displayed on our website. We may wish to use your comments and ratings in our literature or elsewhere online. Unless you specify otherwise, you are therefore agreeing in posting your comments that The Society has the right to use, edit, publish in any media, delete and/or store the whole or any part or parts of that post, and may quote you by name, without charge and without reference to you or anyone else.
The Society's wine buyers work very closely with our suppliers to determine how best to seal our wines. We list below those closures currently in use with a brief description of each.
A technical cork made up of the remnants from the production of natural corks which are ground down into particles and cleaned and then combined using a food-grade polyurethane glue. A cheaper closure which The Society's buyers discourage suppliers from using.
A technical cork made from cheaper-grade natural cork where the naturally occurring pores are filled with ground down cork particles and then the whole is sealed with a food-grade wax coating. Generally only used for wines with a short shelf-life.
Diam corks look like agglomerate corks but are far superior and are designed to put an end to cork taint and random oxidation. The production process chops cork into pieces and sorts the superior, highly elastic, suberin component from the less elastic lignin, which is discarded. It mixes the suberin with microscopic spheres of the same substance used for contact lenses, which fills the voids between the cork particles reducing porosity to air and increasing elasticity without introducing humidity. Finally the pieces are mixed with a glue and moulded under pressure. The mechanical properties of the cork are guaranteed for a certain minimum number of years depending on the grade of cork - for example Diam 2 is guaranteed for two years; Diam 3, 5 and 10 are also available.
The Champagne cork is 90% agglomerate made from cork off-cuts which are ground down, cleaned, compressed and then glued together with two disks of good quality natural cork glued onto the end which protrudes into the bottle.
Natural corks harvested from the cork oak (Quercus suber) forests in Spain and Portugal have been the closure of choice for wine for the 300 years. The bark of the cork oak is stripped from mature trees every nine years. The planks are stored and then cleaned and graded before the corks are punched out of the wood. For wines destined for long-ageing, high-grade natural corks are still the closure of choice.
Cost-effective synthetic 'corks' made from food-grade plastic with a silicone coating (similar to that used on natural corks). Generally used for wines for short-term cellaring.
A glass stopper with a plastic 'O' ring which acts as an interface between the top of the bottle and the stopper, held in place by a metal, tamper-proof seal. Relatively expensive as a closure and not widely used. Can be removed by hand.
A short natural or agglomerate cork with a plastic or wooden top to enable the stopper to be removed by hand. Traditionally used for whiskies, sherries, Madeira etc.
Aluminium alloy screwcaps made with an expanded polyethylene wadding for the lining. Screwcaps are also known as ROTEs (roll-on tamper evident) or by the brand name (Stelvin is a popular brand). Widely used in Australia and New Zealand and for wines for short-term cellaring. Becoming increasingly sophisticated in terms of allowing differing levels of permeability so mimicking the properties of natural cork offering winemakers more choice depending of the style of wine being made. There is still a lack of sound data regarding the performance of screwcaps for longer-term cellaring.
This is an agglomerate cork with a disk of good-quality natural cork adhered to both ends. A reasonably priced, reliable alternative to natural cork.
This is the metal pilfer-proof cap usually used to seal beer bottles but also used in the production of Champagne and sparkling wine when wines are stored under crown cap before the dosage is added. A few producers use crown caps to seal wine bottles. Open with a standard bottle opener.
Jamie Goode has written an excellent book on the subject of closures for those wishing to find out more (Wine Bottle Closures, Flavour Press).
The Society includes the alcohol by volume percentage figure for each wine available online, in Lists and offers.
Alcohol by volume%
Units per standard bottle
It is generally accepted that alcohol levels in wine have been increasing in the last 20 years. There are many reasons why, but the single most important factor is the vast improvement in vineyard management techniques which have resulted in healthier, riper fruit being harvested. Alcohol is a by-product of the fermentation of sugars in the grapes and the best-quality wines are made from grapes that have reached physiological ripeness (colour, flavour and tannin), and this generally happens after sugar ripeness.
There are several techniques that can be used to reduce alcohol levels but currently most are intrusive and strip flavour as well as alcohol and we don't buy wines made in this way. In actual fact, more than half of our still table wines have an abv of 13% or less. Members looking to choose wines with lower levels of alcohol can now search our range by level of alcohol.
Excellent-quality wine is at the heart of everything we do at The Wine Society and balance is the single most important feature of quality. The interaction of a wine's main components of sugar, acidity, tannin, alcohol and flavour matter more than the actual level of alcohol. A well-made wine of 14.5%, for example, will taste more balanced than an inferior-quality wine with 10% alcohol. Furthermore, alcohol levels are only a guide to a wine's fullness: a 12.5% cabernet sauvignon may feel heavier and more full-bodied in the mouth than, say, a gamay of 13.5%. Members should refer to the wine's tasting note for a description of the style and fullness of the wine.
The Society is committed to promoting the responsible enjoyment of wines and spirits by providing relevant information to our members that allows them to make their own informed choices. An additional figure is beginning to be used on labels: the number of (UK) units of alcohol contained in that bottle. This is simply the alcohol by volume percentage multiplied by the content. Thus a 13% wine in a standard 75cl bottle will have 9.7 units of alcohol. All new labels of Society and Exhibition wines will include this information. drinkaware.co.uk
The Society's buyers provide recommended drink dates for all of our wines to help members decide the right time to pop the cork. As a general rule, most everyday white wines are best enjoyed within a year of purchase, and most everyday reds within two years. Certain fine wines, however, those with the right structure and balance, have the ability to evolve over time and gain complexity and finer nuances of flavour.
If the product page says:
...then our advice would be:
Should be drunk over the coming months, certainly within the year.
Ready to drink now but will keep until the year shown.
We recommend keeping longer before opening. For example, a wine will be ready to drink in 2020 but still young and will keep until 2042. It's a matter of personal taste when such wines should be drunk. Many members prefer to try the wines over many years from the opening drink date to the last to watch the wine evolve.
Within one year of purchase
A non-vintage wine that should be drunk within 12 months.
Within two years of purchase
A non-vintage wine that is ready now but will keep for two years.
Savouring the wonderfully complex and intense bouquet and flavour of a wine drank at its peak is undoubtedly one of life's greatest pleasures. As with people, the ageing process will vary from wine to wine. Over the years the wine's primary aromas of fresh fruit will develop more complicated and persistent secondary and tertiary aromas. The fruity flavours of, for example, a premier cru white Burgundy will, over time, evolve buttery, toasty and yeast aromas, or fine reds may develop coffee, cedar, tobacco, vegetal, or even 'animal' flavours as they age.
There is much pleasure to be had by experimenting with bottles at different stages of maturity; finding out how a wine evolves with age and, perhaps more importantly, establishing your own preference in terms of taste for mature wine are all part of the interest and excitement of cellaring wine.
The drinking window we provide is a guide to when the wines will be at their best. Many will favour the wines in the youthful early stages of their development; others will enjoy the wines at their most mature.
Decanting is a useful way of softening the tannins, rounding out the flavours and releasing the potential of a young wine. To find out more please visit our Serving Wine guide.
The Society's purpose-built, temperature-controlled Members' Reserves offers members access to optimum storage conditions for their wines.
For more help and advice about how best to enjoy your wines contact us via our enquiry form.
Oak plays a very important role in the production of wine throughout the world. However, the level of oak detectible in a wine can vary depending on a number of factors – for example, the age and size of the barrel and the type of oak used, as well as the length of time the wine is aged in wood. Oak also influences the structure and tannins of the final wine. For wines on our website, we use the following classifications:
This suggests that a wine has either seen no oak at all, or may have been produced using very large, old oak barrels, resulting in a wine that has no taste of oak. Expect these wines to be crisp, fruit-forward and aromatic.
Some oak has been used in the production, yet it has not been a defining factor in the style of the wine. In this instance, the oak may have played more of a part in the structure of the wine but there will still be discreet flavours associated with the use of new oak.
Wines that are defined by and known for their use of new oak. This must not be confused with a wine which is 'overly oaky' as that would purely be down to bad winemaking! We buy only wines that, we believe, use oak in a balanced and appealing way, enhancing flavour and complexity, and/or imparting structure.
How detectable oak is depends a good deal on the size of the barrel and how new it is. New oak provides a much more evident flavour and aroma and must be used carefully. The size of the barrel is important, as the smaller the barrel, the more surface area of the wine is in contact with the wood and the more flavour will be drawn out. Often, very large old oak barrels are used, which impart little or no oak flavour to the wine at all. They will still bring an extra dynamic to the final taste of a wine though, when compared to stainless steel or concrete vessels, as oak is porous and therefore lets a small amount of air into the barrel. This controlled oxidation has a positive effect on wines, softening the tannins and developing secondary flavours, all helping to add a complexity which comes with age.
There are many ways that people rate wines, whether it is on the 100 or 20 point scales, 5 stars, 3 glasses or simply thumbs up or down. The pleasure of a bottle of wine is hard to express in figures, but it does help give the memory of that wine a context, and a way of sharing your opinion with others.
In response to members' requests we have added a star rating option to the site so you can mark your favourites, or maybe those occasional less-than-welcome experiences, and make your next order easier.
You can use the 5-star rating tool to record your experiences however you wish, but if you are looking for some guidance we believe that a focus on the 'value' of the wine takes into account the quality but also the pleasure it provided, and whether it is something you would recommend to friends.