Author: Descriptions: Kristian Kielmayer, Wine & food pairing: Ágnes Herczeg
The variety is the result of a crossing of Ezerjó and Bouvier bred by Ferenc Király in Pécs in 1951.
It is a sibling of Zengő and Zenit. It is named after the chief Greek god, the lord of heaven and lightning and is thus sometimes written as Zeusz. It was originally called Badacsony 10 and was listed in the national variety catalogue as Zeus in May 1994.
It has medium-sized, heart-shaped, deep green leaves. Its clusters are moderately large and broad rather than long. It is characterised by medium-sized, juicy berries and late budburst and ripening. The variety is mainly important for late harvested wines.
Today, the variety is grown on less than 30 hectares, and not only in the Badacsony wine district. Although the variety’s 8 hectares accounts for 1% of Badacsony’s vineyard area, Balatonfüred-Csopak, Balaton Highlands and Somló do not lag far behind with their 7 and 5 hectares.
It is a Balaton variety as it is not found in other wine regions, it thrives on volcanic soils and is capable of producing fresh wines with significant alcohol and high sugar content.
The variety is most often produced in a sweet style.
In the rare cases when it is produced as a dry wine, they are characterised by honey, acacia honey and propolis with restrained acidity, ripe fruit and an angular texture.
Late-harvested wines tend to have significant residual sugar and sometimes have relatively high alcohol along with moderate, soft acidity and an oily texture. These wines are also defined by floral and aromatic notes.
Zeus grape bunch and leaf
Zeus produces a medium-bodied wine with moderate acidity and notes of ripe fruit and honey. It is generally high in alcohol or has significant residual sugar. It is most usually found as a sweet wine from around Lake Balaton. In the right hands, Zeus can be used to make high-quality, ageworthy wines, which can be laid down for a year or two. However, most Zeus wines are best enjoyed young as a late-harvested wine, which pairs perfectly with crispy, spicy sweet potatoes, barbecue ribs, pineapple chicken and various desserts with honey and fruit, cream pots and cheeses. Whether drunk young or with some age, always store in a cool place, away from direct sunlight and heat, in order to best preserve its quality and aromas. Serve straight from the fridge at about 7-10°C, depending on sweetness, in a tulip-shaped white wine glass.
Ingredients that best match the flavour and texture of wines made from Zeus include beetroot, sweet potatoes, carrots, pineapple, honey, sweet spices, citrus fruit, young light cheeses, curd cheese, ricotta, chicken, duck, goose, some pork dishes and offal. Peking duck, for example, makes a perfect pairing. Try it with curd cheese desserts, Eszerházy gateau, honey slice or Rákóczi cheesecake. In this case, serve the wine a little more chilled.