In Hungary, near Lake Balaton, lives a man named István Bencze.
(Reading time: 1 min, 40 sec.)
István is one of the most ambitious young winegrowers I’ve ever met, and he is definitely the most fast-paced. I’ve followed him for close to four years (including three Hungarian visits) and the progress he’s made is simply astounding.
In short, István works with indigenous varieties (aka names you’ve probably never heard of and/or are able to pronounce) which he grows biodynamically. He adds nothing, he takes away nothing, and a couple of years ago he threw away almost all of his barrels and steel tanks and replaces them with a solid collection of amphorae. Pedal to the metal, no regrets and no looking back!
The exact location of the Bencze vineyards are the vulcanic soils of Szent György Hegy (Saint George’s Hill) in the Badacsony region. You should go there!
A blend of young vines of Furmint, Hárslevelű and Kéknyelű. A bit of skin contact and aged in amphora. Whether you define ‘natural wine’ as a style or a philosophy doesn’t really make a difference here. This is in the natural category. Bitter grapefruit, lemon juice and a slice of mango brought along with an insisting acidity that touching the volatile kind. If you are not afraid of acidity, you probably like this one.
100% Kéknyelű aged in amphora. Grapefruit and lemon is accompanied by a fine minerality that grows into a deeper complexity as the wine slowly opens up. Open this today and finish it tomorrow. And take note of this variety, Kéknyelű. I have a feeling that it’s got a really high potential. Especially if you are a self-declared Chenin fan like István (and me).