Four (!) cheeses of the month for July 2018, from the northern shores of Lake Balaton, Hungary

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Wines from volcanic soils have become a real thing recently. Etna and Vesuvio, the Canares and Santorini, Dundee Hills and Gattinara all make for rather special aromas and textures in our wine glasses. Particularly interesting in this respect and still overlooked by many: Hungary. So when Robert Gilvesy from the eponymous wine estate in Badacsony on Lake Balaton’s northern shores (in Szent György-hegy to be more exact) invited me to this year’s Bohém Légyott I immediately reshuffled my diary and accepted.

As a first, Saturday’s festival was preceded by a symposium on volcanic wines on the Friday: Patricia Tóth from Planeta in Sicily explained how Mount Etna continually and literally reshapes its terroir, Professor Emeritus Alex Maltman talked about the real connection between geology and wines, and I organized and commented a tasting of wines from the Balaton and Somló paired with local cheeses.

Four very different wines: Pinot Noir, Juhfark (very intriguing, old variety from Somló), Veltliner and Riesling; which all showed an almost austere, grippy side.

And four fantastic cheeses.

The round, soft cheese with a touch of ash under the bloomy white rind, from Zsófia Kovácz: great texture, the elegant acidity discreetly hidden in the background, the cow as present as sheep are in their respective cheese – Pinot Noir!

Six months old sheep milk cheese from Dezsö Ódor and Edina Bognár: very quiet, with great potential – Juhfark (which funnily enough translates to sheep’s tail)!

The semihard goat cheese from Bálint Szabó (who joined us for the tasting): unusual and daring, with a „wild“ layer of red brevibacterium linens under a bit of white bloom, a lot of acidity and a bitternis that reminded me of certain farmhouse cheddar cheeses – Veltliner!

And finally, Balaton Sajt (which means cheese in Hungarian and is pronounced shite ;-) from Vászolyi: in format and style close to traditional alpine wheels, washed very sparingly, the sweetness very discreet, but again, this austere and yet very present character which in wine we’d call salty and mineraly. Wow. Paired with Gilvesy’s similarly crisp and yet intense yellow-banana-roasty Tarányi Riesling a superb and impressive conclusion to our tour around the volcanos.

Obviously two days were much too short – let’s go to the Balaton!

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