Irsai and the rest - Aromatic whites for summer evenings

There are white wines that can be tasted and analysed for hours as they keep on revealing new flavours and aromas, since they are complex and have weight. Then there are whites that we don't even feel the need to talk about; they just feel nice to drink and if tasting can be measured in terms of hours, then most likely we won't still be stuck on the first bottle. They are light, fresh and vibrant, and so pronouncedly fruity and floral that even those who find the whole wine tasting thing a load of nonsense can find aromas in them.

There are certain signs that indicate that a bottle is concealing aromatic contents. For instance, in Hungary the variety is most often one of Sárgamuskotály (also known as Muscat Lunel or Muscat Blanc), Tramini (Traminer), Irsai Olivér, Zenit or Cserszegi Fűszeres. While there are exceptions, they are typically made in steel tanks by being inoculated with cultured yeast. “They can only be spoiled,” an experienced winemaker would say. They are made so quickly and in such a controlled manner yet a lot still also depends on the quality of the grapes. As they are all early-ripening varieties, it's crucial that they are harvested at perfect ripeness. Otherwise, the freshness will be gone.
Precisely because of the swiftness of production and straightforwardness of the technology, aromatic whites are never more expensive than 1,000 or 2,000 Ft per bottle. Today they are rarely put into anything other than screw cap bottles, which is not evil at all as that's how the wines remain fresher for longer and it's easier to avoid the kind of faults caused by cork.
Choosing an aromatic wine is a sure bet, whether we're sitting in a restaurant or enjoying a summer evening BBQ. Indeed, almost everyone likes them since they are: fresh, crispy and lower in alcohol, and also possess good acidity and lots of fruit.
So, we got together and tasted a few dozen of such wines at the Csendes Társ (lit. Silent Partner) and picked the 11 we loved the most and which we will be drinking on warm summer evenings on the terrace:

 
Tramini (Traminer)

Name: comes from the village of Tramin (Termeno) in Alto Adige, northern Italy, from the area also known as South Tyrol
Varieties: Gewurtztraminer (i.e. Pannonhalma), Red Traminer (Badacsony)
Grapes: small, reddish berries, irregular bunches
Wine: Golden yellow, low acidity, oily. Rose water, soap, spices, honeycomb, ginger.

 

 


Sárgamuskotály

Name: Muscat Llunel = Muscat Blanc
Grapes: small berries, big, dense bunches, juicy, tendency to shrivel
Wine: good acidity, fresh grapey flavour, sweetish feel

 

 

Irsai Olivér

Name: Valós személy volt. He was a real life figure. The variety was named after József Irsai's son by Pál Kocsis who created the grape
Origin: created in 1930 by the crossing of Pozsonyi Fehér and Csabagyöngye
Grapes: small berries, medium, loose bunches
Wine: greenish-yellow colour, Muscat aromas, mild acidity, ages relatively quickly

 

 

Zenit
Origin: Created by Ferenc Király by crossing Ezerjó and Bouvier
Grapes: abundant, loose bunches, black dotted berries
Wine: spices, white fruit, peppermint

 

 

Aromatic blends

Winemakers often blend several aromatic varieties with each other or with varieties possessing different qualities in order to make them fresher and crispier. Here are four that it would be a sin to miss out on:

 

 

Beside fresh aromatic wines, we also tasted a few that lie outside the light and fruity category but we still wanted to take note of them. Here are three exciting, complex and mineral Traminers from three different regions close to the border.