Author: Kristian Kielmayer, Ágnes Herczeg
A crossing of Seyve Villard and Csabagyöngye produced in 1957 by the breeders Dr József Darab Csizmazia and László Bereznai. This resistant variety was originally called Egri Csillagok 24. It was recognised by the state in 1970, with the proviso that it should only be grown in private gardens. However, this was removed around eight years later. It got its name from the fact that it was propagated and planted in Zala County for the first time in a variety experiment.
It is a high-yielding, early-ripening variety with extremely large, loosely packed clusters and moderately large berries. It has medium-sized, asymmetrical, smooth, unlobed leaves. It drops its acidity rather quickly and does not tolerate drought well but is relatively resistant to cold and frost.
The variety is grown on 850 hectares in Hungary, of which 750 hectares can be found in the Kunság wine district. There are now only 5 hectares in its former home, the Zala wine district. The variety has declined sharply, with its area under vine shrinking steadily since the early 2000s; there were still 2,100 hectares registered in 2010. There are probably still greater amounts of vines in smallholdings and private gardens, but it has fallen sharply in terms of grapes destined for wine. It is an environmentally-friendly, high-yielding and early-ripening variety, which is also suitable for machine harvesting.
It is rarely found as a monovarietal wine, but rather used for blends and simple, everyday wines, which are generally aromatic, light and fresh. It is also used for sparkling base wine.
If harvested early, it oxidises quickly, thus has a relatively short shelf life.
Zalagyöngye grape bunch and leaf
alagyöngye is a particularly light, fresh, fragrant wine that is rarely found on its own. It is mostly used in blends, especially for light summer wines. Such wines are typically popular during warm, sunny months, i.e. from early spring to late autumn. The variety basically boasts plenty of notes of fresh fruit but is soft and restrained on the palate, so pairs best with more neutral, light dishes. It is pleasant and refreshing simply sipped on its own, or perhaps with soda in a spritzer. Choose the latest vintage and drink as soon as possible to enjoy its freshness at its best. Always store in a cool place, away from direct sunlight and heat, to best preserve its aromas, as the wine oxidises quickly. Serve straight 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 Zalagyöngye include lettuce, fennel, citrus fruit, grapes, apples, pears, young, light cow’s cheeses, chicken and non-oily white fish. Serve it with light summery green salads and fruit salads, plain chicken or turkey breast and steamed non-oily white fish. Avoid rich sauces and gravies as well as overly spicy food as they can easily overpower Zalagyöngye’s delicate flavour.