The soils of Etyek-Buda, just west of Budapest, are dense with chalky limestone—not unlike the soils of Chablis and Champagne. In 1882, József Törley, having developed a successful sparkling wine house in Reims, France, decamped to his native Hungary and established a new estate, replicating the viticultural and cellar protocols he’d developed during his French interlude. His winery grew quickly, and by the turn of the 20th century it was supplying royalty in Europe and le bon ton everywhere.
Today, Törley endures as one of Hungary’s oldest sparkling wineries, producing over 12 million bottles of traditional, transfer, and Charmat method wines per year from 800 hectares of estate vineyards. Four of the wines are now imported into the U.S., and while some of the grape varieties will seem novel to Americans, these wines shouldn’t be viewed as curiosities. Think of them instead as affordable sparklers from a storied European house that—like all good wines—will offer refreshment, interestingness, and delight.
NV Törley Hungaria Grande Cuvée Brut Etyek-Buda
11.5% abv | $15 (sample)
Lime peel, laurel leaf, orange blossom, and grassy herb aromas drift above the wine’s pearly foam. It’s brut but not too, with sweet citrus fruits and green tea ornamented by a creamy mousse. Made from királyleányka, riesling, pinot noir, and chardonnay by modified transfer method, it offers surprising elegance and refinement for its price.
NV Törley Hungaria Extra Dry Rosé Etyek-Buda
11.5% abv | $15 (sample)
This wine’s gorgeous rosy-copper hue is garlanded with glittery skeins of bubbles spiriting aromas of strawberry, apricot, and tawny peach. Creamy textured and off-dry, it has a savory end-note with a finishing flare of tart strawberry. Made from 100% pinot noir by modified transfer method, it’s pretty, delicious, and an excellent value.
NV Törley Gála Sec Etyek-Buda
11.5% abv | $10 (sample)
Spirited effervescence yields notes of yellow apple skin, ripe pear, spring flowers, and apple pastry. The mousse subsides into a finish like apple cider vinegar—bracing, sharp, and a nice counterpoint to the spring-flowers perfume. Made from királyleányka, riesling, and grüner veltliner using the Charmat method. It’s a great alternative to Prosecco.
NV Törley Fortuna Doux Etyek-Buda
10.5% abv | $10 (sample)
Aromas of jasmine, yellow peaches, and ripe apricots are curiously tinged with tarragon and musk. Made using the Charmat method from muscat ottonel, cserszegi fűszeres, and csabagyöngye grapes. With 80 g/L of residual sugar, the wine is quite sweet, but would make a great brunch wine paired with pastries, washed-rind cheeses, and apple or custard desserts.
Many thanks to Wine Business Monthly for recommending this article to their readers.