Author: dr. Gabriella Mészáros , Dániel Ercsey
Photo: Árpád Pintér

Mátra Wine District

Mátra Wine District

If Sárhegy is ever replanted, there will be more one grand cru area, and the wine district’s reputation will extend beyond the village of Abasár. Nowadays, the Mátra comes much more to mind for hikes and beautiful walks rather than for grapes and wine. However, as far as terroir is concerned, the Mátra is a wine district with almost optimal characteristics. Its wines, both white and red, are all about beautiful acidity and rich aromatics.

History

The identity of the first vineyards in the region is not known. From the 13th century onwards, constant mention is made of vineyards in the Gyöngyös area and, from the 15th century, its wines gained such a reputation that the Gyöngyös town council decided that the local wine could only be sold as “Gyöngyösi” if it had achieved the desired quality when inspected.

During the Turkish wars, both the Turks and the Hungarians attempted to collect taxes from the Gyöngyös citizens living in the borderlands, which resulted in a decrease in production. The wines of Sár, Visonta, Gyöngyös, Pata and Apc were the most famous at this time. At the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, Kadarka was the main variety in the region. This changed after phylloxera when white varieties came to dominate.

In the 20th century, the wine district was carved out of the Heves County Eger-Visonta wine region. It was known as the Gyöngyös-Visonta wine region in the 1940s, then Mátraalja from 1959 and is now called Mátra.

The villages of Aldebrő, Feldebrő and Verpelét, which were formerly part of the region, were annexed to the Eger wine district in 1997.

Geographical location

The wine district consists of two distinct larger units.  South of the Mátra Mountains lie the vineyards of the historic wine region, along a line from Hatvan to Domoszló. Today, the wine-growing areas to the north-east and east of Budapest are also part of the wine region. Its municipalities are in Heves and Pest counties. The wine-growing region includes Abasár, Apc, Atkár, Budapest-Rákosliget, Detk, Domoszló, Ecséd, Gyöngyös, Gyöngyöshalász, Gyöngyösoroszi, Gyöngyöspata, Gyöngyössolymos, Gyöngyöstarján, Halmajugra, Hatvan, Heves, Karácsond, Kerepes, Kisnána, Kisnémedi, Markaz, Mogyoród, Nagyréde, Őrbottyán, Pálosvörösmart, Pásztó, Rózsaszentmárton, Szada, Szendehely, Szücsi, Vác, Vácegres, Vácrátót, Vécs, Veresegyház, Visonta settlements according to the vineyard register I. and Class II areas of the vineyard register. This is one of the largest wine-growing areas in the region.

The total production area of the Mátra wine region is 32497 ha, of which 24261 ha are first class. Only a fraction of this, about 5580 ha, is planted with vines.

 

Soil

Its soils are diverse and include chernozem brown forest soil and erubase clay soil (black nyirok soil), luvisol forest soil and brown soils formed mostly over loess, andesite and rhyolite tuff, but also on humus-rich Pleistocene and Holocene sand. Soils are mostly poor in lime, although the active lime content can reach 60% in some places.

Climate

The region has a temperate continental climate. The vineyards are protected from the north winds by the Mátra Mountain Range, creating a favourable microclimate. Spring typically arrives relatively late. Most of the precipitation is absorbed by the Mátra, so the wine district’s climate is rather dry. Most of the rain falls in early summer, in May to June, while the second half of summer is less cloudy and relatively dry.

Grape varieties and typical wine styles

Müller-Thurgau (Rizlingszilváni in Hungarian), Pinot Gris (Szürkebarát), Muscat Ottonel (Ottonel Muskotály) and Olaszrizling are the most widely planted white varieties.

The most widely planted black varieties are Kékfrankos, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zweigelt and Cabernet Franc.

Eger is certainly a more beautiful city than Gyöngyös. The latter is simply beautiful, boasting a huge Franciscan parish church, the Orczy Castle, with the second largest natural history collection in the country and the Mátra Gate, as well as many more sights. And its wines are different in style to those from Eger. The soil is volcanic with lots of tuff. Despite the south-facing mountain slopes which absorb the sun, the area has a distinctly cooler climate. It yields some of Hungary’s most aromatic wines with beautiful acidity, which are not only complex and elegant but also retain their playfulness. It has been considered a white wine region for decades, although the Mátra was once also characterised by significant plantings of Kadarka. Nowadays, black varieties are starting to reappear. Kékfrankos, Pinot Noir and slowly some Kadarka are being reintegrated into the overall Mátra picture.

However, white varieties are still the most widely planted and are characterised by good balance, lean body and rich aromatics. The fullest-bodied wines in the region are often produced from Olaszrizling and, to a lesser extent, Pinot Gris (Szürkebarát), Chardonnay or Muscat. Many producers also make lovely wines from aromatic wines like Irsai Olivér, Traminer and Hárslevelű. The best wines are produced from Kékfrankos, but some outstanding wines are also made from Pinot Noir or Cabernet Franc. Some new varieties, such as Syrah, Tempranillo and Gamay, have also found their way to the wine district, clearly in response to the challenges posed by climate change. However, for the time being, the wine district still benefits from a slightly cooler climate than the rest of Hungary, as well as its excellent soils. The Mátra has a great future ahead of it.

A community of producers committed to quality as well as to traditional Mátra varieties and winemaking has created a producer association called Magna Mátra, which is open to any Mátra producer.

Bianca
Chardonnay
Cserszegi fűszeres
Furmint
Hárslevelű
Irsai Olivér
Királyleányka
Kunleány
Leányka
Olaszrizling
Ottonel muskotály
Pinot blanc
Rajnai rizling
Rizlingszilváni
Sárgamuskotály
Sauvignon blanc
Szürkebarát
Tramini
Zalagyöngye
Zefír
Zengő
Zenit
Zöldveltelini
Blauburger
Cabernet franc
Cabernet sauvignon
Kadarka
Kékfrankos
Menoire
Merlot
Portugieser
Syrah
Turán
Zweigelt
Gamay
Medina
Néró
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