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

Neszmély Wine District

Neszmély Wine District

This is a wine district which stands loyal guard over the Danube. The river is not its focal point, but there would certainly be big problems without it. Something that is simply there would be sorely missed. It is definitely something that supports everyday life and is a destination for excursions on public holiday. If we were to say that the Danube is a particularly beautiful river, we would certainly not be exaggerating. However, if we put it like this: at Neszmély, both banks of the Danube have stunningly beautiful vineyards, then things already look different. Because the river simply divides a wonderful wine region into two with the Hungarian side being the Neszmély wine district and the other side belonging to southern Slovakia. It is home to lively, vibrant wines, with remarkable acidity and a delicate structure, which are often aromatic with an easy-going elegance.

History

Neszmély and its surroundings is a wine district which also boasts medieval traditions. From the 18th century onwards, the commodity wines of manorial farming ensured the high reputation of the wine district. The renowned model vineyard and winery of the Esterházy Csákvár Estate (Eszterházy Csákvári Uradalom) in Ászár was established in the second half of the 19th century; this also represented the professional foundation of the Neszmély wine region in 1897. At that time, the Neszmély and Duna-Almás wines were a clearly understood concept in Hungarian wine expert circles.

The region was later (in 1959) merged into the Bársonyos-Császári wine region. This process reflected the ideology of large-scale viticulture based on the state farms and agriculture of the time. (The name Bársonyos – “velvety” in English – comes from a loess hill ridge stretching to the northwest of Vértes.) Neszmély was only re-established as an independent wine region in 1977. White grape varieties are typically cultivated here. Its best-known wines in the 19th century and first half of the 20th century were Neszmély Riesling and Neszmély Szemelt Riesling. The latter name (“szemelt” = picked) referred to the fact that selected grapes were used to make the wine.

At that time, it not only included the current-day Neszmély wine district but also the Mór, Pannonhalma and Etyek wine districts. It seems a somewhat surprising grouping today, but it was perhaps not unreasonable. The climate and soils, as well as the character of the wines made here, connect the growing areas.

What is certain is that these growing areas mainly provide the ideal backdrop to produce fresh, lean wines with beautiful acidity, just like here around Neszmély. The most popular dry white wines are those with fresh, lively acidity and easy-to-understand fruity aromatics. Oak-aged wines are less frequent, as oak-fermented and aged wines are generally found where there is lower natural acidity. Neszmély wines have not yet piqued the interest of engaged wine consumers enough for vineyard names to be in common usage. Nowadays, we are only aware of a handful, such as Meleges-hegy, Gőte-oldal, Páskom and Látó-hegy. Whether these vineyards will come back to life independently in the eyes of sophisticated wine consumers really depends on what kind of wines come out of these vineyards in the future. The wine district is increasingly a source of firm, well-structured wines with great purity of flavour.

Geographical location

It is located on the right bank of the Danube, within Komárom-Esztergom County, on the south-eastern slopes of the Gerecse Hills and their northern heights, overlooking the river.

Most of the current 986 hectares of the wine region is comprised of 1st class vineyards. The majority of the area, about 906 hectares, is planted with white grapes.

The following towns and villages belong to the wine district: Bársonyos, Császár, Csép, Ete, Kerékteleki, Kisbér, Nagyigmánd and Vérteshely (Ászár subdistrict), as well as Baj, Dunaalmás, Dunaszentmiklós, Esztergom, Kesztölc, Kocs, Mocsa, Neszmély, Szomód, Tata and Vértesszőlős (Neszmély subdistrict)

Soil

The wine district is characterised by Cretan and Eocene marl as well as clay, with loess and brown forest soils formed above it.

Climate

The wine district boasts a balanced, moderately humid, cool climate with minimal annual temperature fluctuation. The climate is characterised by high humidity, balanced precipitation distribution and absence of exceptionally high temperatures. This is also reflected in the lower number of sunshine hours compared to the national average.

Grape varieties and typical wine styles

Olaszrizling and Riesling (Rajnai Rizling) were traditionally the main varieties here, but the following range of varieties are now common: Chardonnay, Pinot Gris (Szürkebarát), Sauvignon Blanc, Királyleányka, Müller-Thurgau (Rizlingszilváni in Hungarian), Olaszrizling, Ezerjó and Irsai Olivér. For the time being, the proportion of black grapes is negligible, with Merlot and Pinot being grown in the largest quantities.

The soil and climate of the wine district favour the production of light, fresh white wines with plenty of acidity. Temperature-controlled fermentation in stainless steel is common as is short maturation in stainless steel. The wines are best drunk young to appreciate their fruity, fresh aromatics and lively acidity. Increasing numbers of producers are making wines from Sauvignon Blanc and other popular aromatic varieties. These include high-quality wines from Irsai Olivér, Királyleányka, Cserszegi Fűszeres as well as growing amounts of Zöldveltelini and Pinot Noir. Black grape varieties are still biding their time, which gives rise to confidence for the future, i.e. there is some reserve in the climate for lively wines with beautiful acidity to find their place in the wine district. Its little-known, but best vineyards lie on hillsides overlooking the Danube, providing the ideal orientation even for grapes for late-harvested wines.

Bianca
Chardonnay
Cserszegi fűszeres
Ezerjó
Furmint
Hárslevelű
Irsai Olivér
Királyleányka
Leányka
Olaszrizling
Ottonel muskotály
Pinot blanc
Rajnai rizling
Rizlingszilváni
Sárgamuskotály
Sauvignon blanc
Szürkebarát
Tramini
Zalagyöngye
Zengő
Zenit
Zöldveltelini
Blauburger
Cabernet franc
Cabernet sauvignon
Kékfrankos
Merlot
Portugieser
Zweigelt
Tatai vár/Neszmélyi borvidék
Tatai vár/Neszmélyi borvidék
Naplemente/Neszmélyi borvidék
Szőlőültetvény/Neszmélyi borvidék
Szőlőültetvény/Neszmélyi borvidék
Szőlőültetvény a Melegeshegyen/Neszmélyi borvidék
Naplemente/Neszmélyi borvidék
Szőlőültetvény/Neszmélyi borvidék
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