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Tolna as an independent wine region and not just as the county by the same name; still sounds unfamiliar to most people. It was only designated in 1998, on the Volgyseg district west of Szekszard, augmented hy two more areas north of this core territory. In a sense then, Tolna is one of the oldest wine producing areas in Hungary; boasting a 2000-year history as part of the Szekszard region with only 2,180 of the designated hectares actually under vines.
Many people are of the opinion that the wines of the Volgyseg Hills are inferior to those of Szekszard proper. We believe that such an assertion cannot be responsibly made until the wines have been monitored regularly for a number of years. One must keep in mind that Tolna for decades functioned as a sort of hinterland, with wines typically blended under Szekszard labels. In its present form, it is a fledgling wine region possessed of quite a few terroirs comparable to those of Szekszard, but it has hardly had the time to put forth or substantiate a claim to distinct individual quality.
Because the terrain is amenable to industrialized cultivation, the leading producers are large wineries. These are wines for everyday drinking, made in massive quantities but to very decent standards—a rare combination in the Hungarian market.
In and around the Tolna wine region many cellar rows and entire “cellar villages” survive to proclaim the former advanced wine culture of diligent ethnic German growers, so unjustly deported from the area in the aftermath of World War II. Especially remarkable among them are the cellar rows at Gyorkony and Nagyszekely. Built around 1780, the Apponyi Cellar in Bataapati stands as a fine example of the grand style that characterized the estates of the landed aristocracy.
Area: 2600 hectares
Climate: mild winter, dry and sunny summer.
Vine varieties, wines: Chardonnay, Italian Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Rhine Riesling, Rizlingszilváni, Kadarka, Kékfrankos, Zweigelt, Merlot.
For more interesting information:
> Hungarian wines and wineregions (authors: Zoltán Benyák, Tibor Dékány)
> Terra Benedicta 2003: Tokaj and Beyond (authors: Rohály Gábor, Mészáros Gabriella, Nagymarosy András)