Author: Kristian Kielmayer, Ágnes Herczeg
It is most likely a Transylvanian variety; however, contemporary literature refutes it having anything to do with Leányszőlő or Feteasca Alba.
It was extremely popular at one time, but its area under vine has shrunk significantly in the last decade.
Its leaves are moderately large, clearly lobed and broad rather than long. It is an early-ripening variety with quite small, stocky, medium-sized clusters and thin-skinned, juicy berries. It is relatively cold tolerant.
Nowadays, it is cultivated on 660 hectares in Hungary, primarily in three wine districts. Significant amounts are found in the Eger, Mátra and Bükk wine districts, with only small or negligible amounts planted in other wine districts. Proportionately, Leányka makes up 16% of plantings in the Bükk wine district.
It undoubtedly thrives in the Upper Hungary wine region, with its cooler climate and many areas of volcanic, tuff, erubase, clay and loess soils. At one time, the name of the wine district and Leányka were often used together; however, nowadays, it is increasingly rare to come across such labels. Since it is a popular variety for blends, it is also an important part of Egri Csillag, a blend made predominantly from Carpathian Basin and aromatic white varieties.
Vines are grown up to 350 metres above sea level in the Bükk wine district, which is characterised by rhyolite tuff, erubase and clay soils. Primarily white grapes were planted here, and this is still true today, as two-thirds of plantings are white, often aromatic varieties. The wine district produces fresh, fruity, straightforward wines with balanced body and alcohol.
It is somewhat difficult to present Leányka in its own right as it is most often found in blends. The variety is found most often in Eger, where it is not only used in blends but also as both dry and sweet monovarietal wines, depending on the vintage. Ageing in oak can add complexity to the wines. Opinions differ as to whether or not it is an aromatic variety. Certainly, its offspring, Királyleányka, is an aromatic variety, and Leányka is also characterised by delicate notes of grape blossom, acacia honey and perfume. It is usually light-bodied with moderate crisp acidity and medium alcohol. Best drunk young.
Leányka grape bunch and leaf
Leányka is a variety that yields light, appealing wines. Its intensity and aromas depend on the time of harvest and method of production, with flavours ranging from restrained citrus notes to more intensely perfumed floral notes. It is most often found in blends such as Egri Csillag, but generally Leányka is more an everyday wine. It is typically consumed from early spring to late autumn; however, some fuller-bodied, oak-aged wines are also produced, and these more substantial wines are also very popular in the cold winter months. It pairs best with light dishes and is also a great choice for vegetable and fish starters, soups and salads. Choose a recent vintage to enjoy Leányka’s freshness at its best. Always store in a cool place, away from direct sunlight and heat, to best preserve its light, fruity perfumed aromas. Serve direct from the fridge at about 8-10°C in a tulip-shaped white wine glass.
Ingredients that best match the flavour and texture of wines made from Leányka and Leányka-based blends include lettuce, cauliflower, fennel, legumes, citrus fruit, peaches, apples, pears, young, light goat and cow’s cheeses, poultry, white fish and light pork dishes. It’s also a great choice with a plain risotto or breaded turkey breast with rice and peas. Sweet versions go well with light, fruity cream sundaes.