Wine & Food

Snooth User: Meraviglioso2

Hungarian Pinot Noir good for Health?

Posted by Meraviglioso2, Nov 15, 2013.

Hi, I've found this Hungarian Pinot Noir wine on an online pharmacy here:

They claim it to be therapeutic for health, saying it's a special brand wich may lower chloesterol, and help keep a good cardiovascular function, as it's a unique version. I've actually bought  and tasted it, and I must admit it's very good indeed!  ;)
So I was wondering, could those health claims be true? Am I really helping my health by drinking this
good hungarian wine? eheheheh!   :D



Reply by EMark, Nov 15, 2013.

There has been a lot of discussion about resveratrol benefiting cardiovascular health.  I'm guessing that this started with The French Paradox.  Personally, I choose to believe it.  My doctor is OK with me drinking wine.  So, life is good.

Is Hungarian PN more beneficial than other wines?  I don't know.  However, if you like the wine, then I would encourage you to drink it.

It would be nice if Gregt were to drop in, here.  He usually has an informed opinion.

Reply by duncan 906, Nov 15, 2013.

It is true that drinking a modest amount of red wine acts as an inhibitor to the deposit of fatty material on the inside of blood vessels and is thus good for blood pressure etc. In 2006 Prof.Roger Corder wrote a book called 'The Wine Diet' on this very subject. This book was based on the observation that the area around the village of Madiran in the South of France had a way above average proportion of men in their 90's in spite of a diet rich in fatty foods like pork, pate and duck. This is because they were drinking the local Madiran wine made from the tannant grape which apparently is the best red wine from this perspective.

Reply by GregT, Nov 15, 2013.

Corder said that it's not resveratrol though. He said that other polyphenols were more important and the dark tannic grapes that were grown in the Madiran area - Malbec and Tannat, had a lot of those. So I guess stuff like Sagrantino would have even more. But then again, I don't know of anyone else who's supported his claim. Nor do I think that one can go about consuming all the fatty food in sight and get off scott free. I bet those guys in their 90s are also pretty thin folks who walk a lot and they don't eat foie gras by the pound - they have a bit now and then. Probably don't eat a lot of fries, prepared foods, etc.

As far as that Hungarian wine - that's hilarious. Villany is a well-known region for red wine in Hungary, a little warmer than some places, but I've had a lot of Hungarian Pinot Noir and it's not all that dark and tannic at all - the stuff from CA is way more healthful if you're looking for anthocyanins and polyphenols!

They also have Malbec in Hungary and I know a guy who planted Sagrantino, so who knows - maybe they're going to be the world's healthiest people within a generation. Because don't forget, a lot of the foie gras thats eaten in France comes from Hungary - it's like their national dish and it's cheaper to raise geese there than in France so they export a lot of it. I eat it every day when I visit. Hungary has become expensive over the last 20 years but it's still a lot cheaper than New York.

That copy seems like it was written by someone promoting the wines of Vilany. So here's a story about those damned Hungarians.

I'm visiting a winery in Lake Ballaton. They own a restaurant at the top of a hill so we go there. We're sitting at an outside table and it's getting dark outside so  can't see too clearly and they bring out a big bowl of bread and a huge plate with very thinly sliced something on it. People start putting that on the bread and eating it. I follow suit and it's pretty good - slightly salty and smoky and we're drinking wine and life is good. I finally ask what it is and they look around. Someone says "meat". Finally someone else says no, it's not meat, it's fat from a pig. Pure white fat.

"WTF", I wonder to myself. I'm sitting there eating hunks of fat?

The winemaker tells me not to worry. "That pig doesn't have any cholesterol. It's a very special protected pig in Hungary - Mangalitsa. You can just eat as much as you want."

I'm satisfied with that and go back to eating - it's pretty good, the wine's good, and life is OK.

Anyhow, I did some checking up a few days later. It's not at all zero cholesterol. The only thing about that pig is that it has more fat than most.  It was fat from a Mangalitsa pig - a curly-haired pig indigenous to Hungary that is a cross between a wild boar and a pig bred especially for extra lard! So they're fattier than most pigs and the meat is redder.

But you can't sit there consuming huge bowls of fat and think you're doing yourself any favor!

So it's not like Hungarian Pinot Noir is any kind of a health drink.

straight chain oligomeric procyanidins
straight chain oligomeric procyanidins
straight chain oligomeric procyanidins
straight chain oligomeric procyanidins
Reply by Meraviglioso2, Nov 16, 2013.

Thanks for your replies, here in Italy we do eat pure pig fat too, it's called "lardo di Colonnata", and it's almost the same thing you've just described (salty, smoded and slightly spiced). I've did some research and actually this kind of fatty meat is still less dangerous to health than margarine or even butter, so as you've said, we eat it and life is good! :)

Reply by GregT, Nov 16, 2013.

I'm curious as to which Hungarian Pinot Noirs you have tried, and also how available they are in Italy.

Reply by Meraviglioso2, Nov 16, 2013.

At the moment I tried the one I've linked above, and a 2006 "Pinoit Noir Barrique"

Reply by SM, Nov 16, 2013.

To add to the discussion here I think wine is like most things in life, a moderate amount of something is generally good for your health. But of course over indulgence in a good thing can easily turn into a bad thing whether it be wine, coffee, exercise (add your own here).

On to Hungarian wine terriors now, I don't mean to be pedantic here; but Szekszard where the wine is from & Villany-Siklos are different wine producing regions. There are some similarities between the regions and terrior actually Villany is more south than Szekszard and has the same latitude of 46 north together with Alto Adige and southern Burgundy.

Szekszard has a longer history of producing fine Hungarian red wine, during the phylloxera plague in the 19th century the French brought in large quantities of it as they believed it was the only wine which compared with their own. During the last few years Villany has become 'the' Hungarian red wine region and has earned an improving reputation; generally Szekszard reds are more elegant & refined whereas Villany reds are more full-bodied & robust. 

Hope that is helpful & sorry for getting a bit geeky on everybody.


Solomon Mengeu

Reply by JonDerry, Nov 16, 2013.

Thanks for chiming in Solomon...I hadn't heard of Szekszard and have looked in to Hungary more than most. When I traveled there in '09 we tasted in Eger and all I heard about was Villany. 

Sounds like more Pinot Noir is grown in Villany, though maybe it should be the other way around?

Reply by SM, Nov 16, 2013.

Thanks Jon Derry for your kind words it is great to find someone else who is also interested in Hungarian wine. As I believe together with Portugal, South Africa & others it is one of the wine world's re-emerging regions; re-emerging in the sense that all of these places have a long history & heritage.

Sometime ago they lost their way and/or focus but now are on the right road towards quality, focus & concentration on making world-class wines. Now to respond to your comment Villany is making incredible wines, there is no denying that; I do love their red wines. 

Skekszard is also a region worthy of attention though as they together with Villany have a lot of loess soils and an ideal climate for growing red wine grapes. Eger is most famous for the Egri Bikaver (Bull's Blood) which originally was made in Skekszard, but the Egervin wine company somehow developed a monopoly on it.

Surprisingly enough I found out last year that a lot of wineries in Eger source their grapes from Hajos-Baja which doesn't exactly have outstanding terrior, just average every day drinking wines.So they are using grapes from another region in their wines; I talked with a Hungarian acquaintance and he confirmed this to me.

On a final note you should check out Hungarian dry Furmint from Tokaj and also Pinot Gris from Badacsony as both of these regions make incredible white wines both from local cultivars & also the international ones e.g. Riesling, Chardonnay, Welschriesling, etc.


Solomon Mengeu  

Reply by GregT, Nov 17, 2013.

You are of course correct. Somehow a sentence got left out or I deleted it. My point was that Villány was a rather warm region as compared to say, Eger, but even the Pinot Noir from there is nothing like the dark and ripe stuff from places like Sonoma in CA. Didn't mean to imply that it had anything to do with the wine, which was clearly marked as being from Szekszárd!

As far as exactly where Bull's Blood comes from, there are plenty of legends as to where it originated. Many people in Eger claim that it's from them and the story is that the Turks were attacking and the Hungarians figured they'd lose so they got drunk and ran down the mountain to attack the attacking Turks. The wine spilling from their beards was thought to be blood. 

I will say that the best Bikavér I've had came from Eger, so it was Egri Bikavér rather than Szekszárdi Bikavér. Not the state stuff or the cheap swill that gets exported and in fact that was one of the problems - it would be around $40 USD or more, so nobody was going to import it.

They have some fantastic mountainside vineyards in Eger if they'd just learn how to use them properly. One problem with Eger is that there's still an official body that opines on the wine. If they'd let the winemakers loose, there's no telling what they could do. But most of the stuff coming from Eger is real mediocre, largely because as you say, it's sourced from the Hajós-Baja where it's warmer and easier to farm than the mountainsides are. But the mountainsides are where the best wines are and will be made. 

Jon - even the warm regions in Hungary aren't as warm as some in the US. Szekszárd was the place where Liszt's favorite wine came from. It's a very old wine making region.  You drive north about 300 miles or so starting from Villany and you first go thru Szekszárd and then head a bit more east and end up in Eger and finally Tokaj.  While the south is known for Kadarka, both that and Kékfrankos seem to do well in Eger as well, where they can be more lean and spicy. I'd focus on those grapes, or at least Syrah, but of course, people always want to make Cab Franc and Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

BTW, there were a few other threads - I thought I had written something about Hungary but I guess that was somewhere else.


Reply by JonDerry, Nov 18, 2013.

Greg, I had assumed Villany was a cooler climate than Sonoma in general (I'm sure there are pockets of the true Sonoma coast that would make for interesting comparison) but its good to hear you affirm this.

Really interesting stuff about Eger guys, thanks for helping me better understand the situation there. The place I visited was Hummerer. Think I still have some of their '06 Cabernet Sauvignon! Can't remember what other grapes they were pushing.

Is there a good way to keep up with what's going on in Hungary, any blogs, or anything of that ilk? Would like to know what a good vintage of that Atilla Gere Merlot might be, among other things like quality Pinot Noir and learning more about their indigenous grapes.


Reply by GregT, Nov 18, 2013.

Jon - you sure it wasn't Thummerer? I know them. Don't know the other.

I don't know of any blogs in English. There are a few in Hungarian. I was talking to a winemaker about Pinot Noir, which is often blended there. He was saying he doesn't like it in blends because it has such a strong profile. I loved that comment for several reasons. First, because he was not worshipping at the altar of monovarietal purity, and second, because he's talking about Pinot Noir, which people say is so delicate and light!

As far as indigenous grapes go, that's an interesting issue. Grapes came from all over. The Roman emperor Probus had his armies planting all over what the Romans called Pannonia, which is basically the large flat plain in central Hungary. So we know grapes were planted by the Romans. And they were also carried in by Germanic tribes. Later, there were grapes brought in by the Franks when the Holy Roman Empire was in full sway.

So nobody really knows where the grapes came from but eventually they classed the grapes as Hunnish or Frankish, hence Blaufränkisch, or what they call Kékfrankos. Either way, as you see, it's referred to as Frankish. That's also grown in Austria, but don't forget that what we call Austria today and Hungary today are tiny pieces of the former empire.

So Kékfrankos isn't considered indigenous, even though it's been there for a long time, because it seems to have been introduced by the Franks, which are probably not the French people we all know and love today.

Kadarka, another "indigenous" grape, was brought in by the Serbs when they were fleeing from the Turks. And there's also Kékoporto, or Blue Portuguese or the German version, Blauer Portugieser. My suspicion is that most people here never heard of it. That was thought to come from Portugal, but that's most likely a myth. Showed up in Austria in the 1700s and at one point became pretty popular and widely planted in central Europe - i.e. Germany, Austria, Hungary.

But all of those came from elsewhere. As a result, and because they want to test themselves against the best, once communism was over, the growers planted a lot of Cab Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. There's also Syrah and some of the best I've ever had actually comes from Hungary. For the most part they didn't plant Spanish or Italian grapes. I suspect that's because they don't have the warmth, although as I mentioned once, I know a guy who's planted Sagrantino.

White grapes are different and some have been around a lot longer. Muscat is one of the world's oldest grapes and that may well have predated the Romans - who really knows? There are a number of white grapes and I've written about them elsewhere so maybe I'll dig something up, but one of the more interesting to me is Olaszrizling. It is unrelated to Rhine Riesling and nobody is sure where it's from. It's also called Italian Riesling and sometimes Welchriesling. The term "welch" is descended from an old version of German and essentially it means "foreign". So the grape was maybe brought in by Celts or Romans or someone outside of the area that named it, but who knows exactly where it was named? Someplace where they spoke German obviously.

In any event, it's planted all over. Talk to some guy in the city and he mentions that he's got a few vines just outside the city and he makes wine. Seems like virtually everyone does. And a lot of what they grow is Olaszrizling. So many people disparage it. But as a friend said to me once, "You know, we've never had a BAD Olaszrizling." And he was right. Rarely a great one, but it's usually more or less drinkable. Kind of like the C- student who's never going to be a rocket scientist but who will always be liked by everyone. I would love to see some serious interpretations of that grape. Heidi Schrock and Kracher in Austria do it and I'd like to see more in Hungary.

But I'm tired now and can't write more. One day I'll write about the white grapes.

Reply by JonDerry, Nov 19, 2013.

Thummerer, that's it!

How are they doing, seems like they are still on the up and up? It was really a nice tasting, especially with the meal they served - fire roasted chicken, prepared right in front of us in their cave.

I think I'll have to try and find some Kadarka for dad is Serbian so I am half. My wife and mother-in- law are pretty much 100% Hungarian. Would make a perfect wine for the occasion it seems, thanks for the background.

So with the above in mind, I can always get the Hungarian blogs translated - sounds like it might be fun to be the foreigner for a change. 

Yes, let's keep this discussion going!


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