Géza Balla, an ethnic Hungarian vintner from the Ménes/Miniş region of Western Romania, has won the best red wine of the year award of the Hungarian Wine Academy with his 2017 Fekete Leányka, made from a grape variety indigenous to Transylvania and the Republic of Moldova, Hungarian-language Transylvanian news portal Maszol reports . This grape — and wine variety — has no English name, only Hungarian (fekete leányka) and Romanian (fetească neagră), both meaning black maiden.
The winery recommends it as a wine that is “subtle, soft and fruity on the nose, smooth on the palate with intense flavors of ripe plums and fresh red berry fruits combined with velvety tannins and hints of sweet spices. Elegant and easy drinking. Pairs well with beef, pork or venison stews with moderately spicy seasoning, potato tortilla and oven-roasted vegetables, gouda/cheddar cheese.” That is in fact the blurb for the 2018 vintage, as the now award-winning 2017 vintage is sold out. Balla (60) runs the vineyard at the foothills of the Western Carpathians, some 50 kilometers from the Romanian border. It has a relatively small vine area of 120 hectares and both the soil and the climate are best suited for red wines. Balla mainly makes kadarka (a full-bodied, dark red from Eastern Europe) and Pinot Noir.
MTI/Zsolt Szigetváry Géza Balla (L) wins the Hungarian Wine Academy’s vintner of the year award in 2018. He was the first vintner from outside Hungary to be awarded the “Vintner of the Year” award of the Hungarian Wine Academy in 2018. He is an agricultural engineer by training specialized in horticulture and wine and teaches wine making at the Sapientia Science University in Marosvásárhely/Târgu Mureș. Title image: Vintner Géza Balla in his vineyard. (source: Géza Balla winery Facebook page)