Villány is one of Hungary’s more famous wine regions. Most tourists when heading that way will make a beeline for the village of Villány itself, as it’s there that three of Hungary’s most well-known wine producers are based: Sauska, Gere, and Bock.
The region itself though includes the village of Villány, and four others – Palkonya, Villánykövesd, Nagyharsány and Kisharsány – and the 12 settlements of cellars and press houses of Siklós. The Villány-Siklós wine route ranks near the top (if not at the top) of Hungarian wine tourism. The southernmost wine region in the country, it dots the south-facing Villány hills running for about 25 km to the Croatian border.
The wine producers of Villány are frequently among the most successful participants in wine contests and exhibitions. So far, wine producers or wine cellars of Villány have been awarded the prestigious title “Wine Producer of the Year” or “Wine Cellar of the Year” six times.
The region is famous for its red wines and while I might bring myself to imbibe the occasional Kadarka or Siller, I’m not a fan. This is good news for any red-wine lovers travelling with me, as I’m more than happy to be the designated driver.
That said. I’d been to Villány a couple of times and was in no great hurry back. It suffers from the double-edged sword that is tourism. Like Eger and its famous Valley of the Beautiful Woman, some of the authenticity has been lost – for me anyway. When turnover trumps talking time that bothers me…
But a visit to Pécs has to include a trip to Villány – the two go hand in hand.
Himself, an inveterate traveller who likes off-road, off-beat vibes, decided to eschew the more popular spot and instead head for Villánykövesd, a gorgeous village with two streets lined with press houses and cellars.
We picked randomly, having not done much by the way of homework and ended up in the Wingert Családi Borospince (Petőfi u. 35). There, CJ and himself took their task of sampling the wine rather seriously, served as it was with a cold platter of meats and cheeses along with a considerable helping of local and family history. Like many of the cellars in this region, it’s been handed down from generation to generation and although the Wingert name has died out, that’s what’s still over the door. The tradition is being kept alive. We currently have two large bottles of one of their reds maturing in our own cellar. They’re dusted off regularly and I suspect that once their six months are up they’ll be ready to herald in the winter.
It’s these smaller cellars that I prefer. Sure, the big guys have the economies of scale and the money to spend on marketing, advertising, and fancy labels, all of which is reflected in the price. But give me cellars like this one, any day. These are the ones I like to support. And with five-star reviews all the way, Wingert should be on your list.
Note for next time: I read that the opening ceremony of the European Winesong Festival is held in the Batthyány Cellar, built by Italian church builders in 1754. It happens (usually) in the second half of September every year. Imagine the acoustics in what is said to be an ‘enormous’ underground wine cellar. We also missed the brick factory on the edge of Villánykövesd, said to be a piece of industrial history. In my defence, it was bloody hot. And I was driving 🙂
I nearly forgot! The Sárga Ház Borgerező és Grill Bisztró serves up retro burgers that would stand tall against the best of American diners. A tad surreal to find gourmet burgers amid the antiquity but it’s one worth checking out.