DANCH & GRANGER SELECTIONS
Importer of Memorable Wines from the New Old World of Eastern and Central Europe
Importer of Memorable Wines from the New Old World of Eastern and Central Europe

Losonci, Mátra, Hungary

Winery map

At a Glance

2009
http://www.losonci.hu/
Mátra
Continental
Andesite, red clay, and chalk
170-200m
Volcanic hills
Kékfrankos, Magyarfrankos, Pinot Noir, Furmint, Turan, Rhine Riesling, Szürkebarát, Hárslevelű, and Chasselas
8 hectares
Organic
Natural
Bálint Losonci
Breakfast up on the Gerag vineyard with Bálint Losonci

The People

Bálint Losonci entered the wine business as a writer for the wine magazine Borbarát under László Alkonyi. He was exposed to a whole world of Hungarian wines in the late 1990s that was just waking up after Communism. He then apprenticed under Gábor Karner (whom he found via Borbarát), and joined a few other liked minded small producers who believed in the future potential of the Mátra appellation.
Hungary’s Mátra appellation is quietly the second largest in the country (7500+ hectares), but has been dominated by just a few larger industrial players – perhaps a bit of a Soviet cooperative era hangover. The typical vine density is designed for large tractors and there’s a disturbing amount of Müller-Thurgau and Chasselas geared more for table grape yields than wine. He and others greatly increased vine density, planted native grapes, moved to organic farming, and drastically reduced yields. In the cellar, the main tenants are native fermentation and no other additions other than SO2. Given the wines typical of the area, all of this was somewhat unheard of on a commercial level. He continues to experiment and push himself, but what remains constant is his unwavering community oriented mindset and desire to put Mátra back on the wine map. His vineyards and wines reflect this drive, ambition and generosity.


Andesit and iron
Andesite and iron soils at Losonci

Vineyards

Roughly 8 hectares are spread across the villages of Gyöngyöspata, Gyöngyöstarján and Nagyréde (single vineyards include Gereg, Tamás-hegy, Sárosberek, Peres, Virág-domb, Oroszi, and Lógi). The first thing Bálint did was plant in between the existing rows (pre Communist era vine density), retrained the vines to drop yield to maximum 1 kilo per plant, and transitioned to organic farming. Focusing on Kékfrankos, Magyarfrankos (cross between Muscat Bouschet and Kékfrankos), Pinot Noir, Furmint, Turan, Rhine Riesling, Szürkebarát, and Hárslevelű, he also grows a little Chasselas for good measure. Our current wines are mostly from the Gerag vineyard where he often doesn’t spray anything of any kind all year. It’s the right exposure and is protected from harsh weather on all sides with the tallest mountains in the country. The Gerag is also defined by andesite (volcanic), tons of iron/red clay, and chalk about 40cm beneath. Many underground springs give life to the hillside as well. He’s also planting pre phylloxera grapes like Purcsin and Tihany Kék among other international grapes geared towards tackling impending climate change.


Tasting at Losonci
Tasting at Losonci

Winemaking

Most wines are open vat fermented with native yeast before being pressed off into oak for aging. Most of the whites see extended skin contact whereas the reds are often less so. The PH is naturally very low (total acids usually between 7-8 g/l post malolactic), so acidity is not an issue and the wines are very stable. The only addition is SO2 at bottling and wines are bottled unfiltered.
 
LosonciNyitnikék 2018
Red Wine
Kékfrankos; Magyarfrankos;
12%
1.1 g/l
7.7 g/l
This is a blend between Kékfrankos and Magyarfrankos (cross between Muscat Bouschet and Kékfrankos). The yield control is no more than a 1 kilo per vine. The grapes are hand harvested, one week of skin contact, and left to settle naturally before bottling. It has crazy color and subtle aromatics from the Muscat Bouschet, tons of acidity, and no greenness at all.

LosonciPinot Gris 2018
White Wine
Pinot Gris;
12.3%
0.7 g/l
4.8 g/l
Strict yield control, open vat fermentation with native yeasts over three weeks of skin contact. One punchdown per day, full lees contact, and all in tank. The wine was bottled unfiltered. It has the color of a ramato from Friuli, Goriška Brda or Vipava, but the acidity, salt, and smoke are all Mátra.

LosonciPinot Noir 2018
Red Wine
Pinot Noir;
12.8%
1.1 g/l
5.6 g/l
While I often eschew Pinot Noir in the portfolio given the glut of it in the market, it is a good way to make a point for a place offering something special when we all know the grape so well. Two thirds come from the Gereg Vineyard (1 spray for all of 2018) and one third comes from a new vineyard (virgin vintage!) planted in 2015. Open vat fermented and then a year in tank. Aromatic, elegant, decent skin tannins, and a volcanic smoky/briny edge.

LosonciRoger 2018
White Wine
Chasselas; Müller Thurgau;
11.8%
0.8 g/l
5.4 g/l
This critter label is actually an homage to Roger Federer. Google it. Perhaps more importantly, during Communism, the Gereg Vineyards was mostly planted to Chasselas and Müller Thurgau. Also during Communism, individuals were able to farm .3 hectare for home wine consumption. Both grapes being high yielding and super vigorous was one of the ways to make enough money selling grapes to the state to eventually afford a Trabant. Google it. Bálint sprayed this vineyard zero times, no till, and then macerated for 5 weeks before settling in tank.