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Villa Tolnay
by
Kathy Sullivan

Villa TolnaySummary: Villa Tolnay is located north of Lake Balaton on Csobánc hill. The tasting room is located in the onsite guesthouse, that is available for rental.

We met Philipp Oser, an enthusiastic owner and winemaker, at the Villa Tolnay guesthouse. The guesthouse is delightful with four columns on the porch. Inside, the tasting room has honey-toned wood furnishings. The table also is honey-toned wood. The light wood enhances the lighting of the room for tasting wines.

Philipp began his story with his journey from Switzerland, where he had owned an IT company, to Hungary. At that time he commented that he would have a glass of wine after a day at his IT company. Philipp visited this region of Hungary in 2002/2003 and tasted the wines. He believed the region had a great potential. Philipp later sold his IT company and moved to the Csobánc region in Hungary. In 2004 he bought a house in Hungary and renovated it with with his wife Adriana. Philipp learned that the house had once been owned by Klari Tolnay, a Hungarian actress. Philipp and Adriana lived in this house for a few years. Then Philipp purchased an adjacent property and turned the original house into a guest house. He also renovated the second house and in 2018 began building a new cellar. Eventually the original cellar will become a wine shop.

Villa TolnayVineyards

The vineyards are located on sloping land with views of the mountains in the background. The hand harvested vineyards include 20 hectares (49 acres) of grapevines within a 10 minute walk of the guesthouse. Grape varieties in the vineyards include: Olaszrizling, Riesling, Gruner Veltliner, Chardonnay, Furmint and Sauvignon Blanc. For red grapes, there are plantings of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir. Grapes are also purchased for the winery. When buying grapevines for the vineyards, Philipp is especially carefully to purchase quality vines.

At the time of our March visit, the vines were just beginning to wake from their winter dormancy. Buds were just beginning to swell.

Winemaking

During the winemaking process, staff members are valued for their importance and provide opinions of the wines. However, Philipp makes the final decisions on the wines. Philipp speaks of the winery with the use of “we” rather than “I.” He also commented that when winemaking he makes “no compromise.”

Wine Cellar

The current wine cellar is 100 years old. A brick walkway leads through the cellar with oak barrels and wood casks lining each side. The cellar also has a few unusual clay jars (qvevri) fermenting wine.

Villa Tolnay     Villa Tolnay

Villa TolnayVilla Tolnay Wines

After our tour of the vineyards, we entered the tasting room of the Villa Tolnay guesthouse to taste several Villa Tolney’s wines. Philipp wants to focus on the local character of the region when producing wines. He also has discovered that this region is also good for growing red grape varieties. With our Villa Tolnay wine tasting, a basket of delicious bacon sprinkled light biscuits were provided. The biscuits are made with baklava dough and bacon.

Villa Tolnay designates the classification of wines by the use of stars. Labels with three stars are considered higher quality wines.

We began the wine tasting with the 2018 Sauvignon Blanc Csobáncz that had 12% alcohol. This was a basic (1 star) wine. The yellow colored wine offered an aroma of citrus with tropical fruits. The taste included notes of grapefruit and pineapple. The finish was fruity with a trace of lemongrass on the aftertaste.

2017 Tenger was a two star wine. Tenger is Hungarian for sea - remembering the Pannonian Sea. Philipp commented that if you dig in the vineyard you will find top soil, then basalt followed by white sand. This sand is from the Pannonian Sea. The Tenger was a blend of Chardonnay, Olaszrizling, Riesling and Gruner Veltliner. The yellow colored wine had notes of apple and sea spray. Salt was noted on the taste. The finish was fruity with some mineral especially salt.

Villa TolnayToday Villa Tolnay has a wine label Hidden Treasures. The Hidden Treasures project by Moric is an attempt to reveal the Hidden Treasures from the Pannonian Plain. Hidden Treasures #3 was produced by Villa Tolnay, a blend of Riesling and Furmint with 12.5% alcohol. The wine was a yellow color. The aroma was of flowers and the taste included notes of daises, roses and some peach. The finish was crisp.

The 2017 Csobáncz Olaszizling, a three star wine, had 13.5% alcohol. This was a single vineyard wine. The yellow colored wine offered notes of yellow stone fruit. The mouthfeel was silky and included peach and apricot notes. The finish was fruity with some mineral on the aftertaste.

The 2017 Csobáncz Gruner Veltliner was a single vineyard wine. The 13% alcohol wine was a yellow color. The aroma was of yellow stone fruit. The silky mouthfeel offered citrus and peach notes. The finish was very fruity with some mineral on the aftertaste.

The 2017 Csobáncz Pinot Noir, with three stars, had 13% alcohol. The aroma was of red raspberries. The taste had red raspberries with a little spice. The full-bodied wine had medium/bold tannins. The wine was fruity with some mineral.

The 2017 Cosobáncz Cabernet Franc, with three stars, had 13% alcohol. The wine was an opaque ruby color. The aroma was of plum. The taste included plum, some peppers and baking spices. This was a full-bodied wine with medium/bold tannins. The finish was fruity with mineral on the aftertaste.

Eventually Philipp hopes to export 50 to 60% of the Villa Tolnay wines without reducing the amount of wine sold locally.

When visiting this wine region, north of Lake Balaton, Hungary, consider a wine tasting at Villa Tolney. The winery tasting room is open Friday through Sunday. Appointments are not necessary on those days. For additional days and time, appointments are necessary.

Villa Tolney
Gyulakeszi, Csobánc hegy 24., 8286 Hungary

For more information about Villa Tolnay

 

Article written May 2019.

 

 



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