This is not an official vintage guide in the sense that I made no efforts to cover the grape and wine quality during the vintage. There are no interviews, visits and weather statistics behind the tags. Maybe some day I will do that.
This is rather just a collection of my impressions on the last few vintages judged by the wines and the samples I tasted. It also incorporates a bit of “common knowlegde” of the local consumers, which I regard as a wide consensus.
1999 – a top vintage for red wines in Villány and Szekszárd, seems to surpass 2000 by now. Also a beautiful aszú vintage in Tokaj
2000 – a top vintage for red wines in Villány and Szekszárd, also a beautiful aszú vintage in Tokaj. Still, wines seem to be slightly lagging behind the 1999 vintage.
2001 – a bad vintage, prestige wines were not produced as a rule, with very few dry wines to mention. Some notable aszú wines were made in Tokaj.
2002 – a nice, well balanced vintage, with beautiful red wines, white wines, and also aszú wines from all across the country.
2003 – a very hot vintage all across Europe, the same is true for Hungary. High alcohols, harsh tannins, low acidity on average. Also a beautiful aszú vintage, very much to my liking, though both sweet and dry wines are lower on acidity, thus probably shorter lived in the long run.
2004 – a far from optimal vintage, some producers decided to produce prestige wines in the vintage, even if slightly lesser quality, and some have decided to use these wines for strenghtening the base products. Very few truly outstanding wines. Aszú production also suffered.
2005 – a really bad vintage for the most producers with cooler summer, plus early autumn rains spoiled the harvest. No prestige red wines were made, but Southern pinot noirs gave much better wines than in a regular, much warmer year. A good aszú vintage, with somewhat higher acidity, definitely better quality than dry wines.
2006 – a top vintage promising good balance and longevity for red wines and whites alike, a good aszú vintage, but acids look suprisingly high even when compared to 2005.
2007 – a really warm year, even hotter than 2006, with ripe cabernet sauvignons, especially in Villány and Szekszárd. Due to riper grapes I would guess acids and longevity is lagging behind 2006, but still lacking the searing hot weather and unripe tannins of 2003.
2008 – a highly variable vintage of good average quality, though – cabernets are not my favourites, but it looks promising for Southern pinot noirs once again. Also a promising aszú vintage, great acidity, lively, fresh, but not overly strong as in some 2005 and 2006 wines. Looking forward to the vintage presentations in two years time – sweet cuvées might tell more before the official aszú debut.
2009 – possibly another top year for red wines, ripe cabernets in Villány and Szekszárd again, but possibly way to hot for some white wine producers. Not too promising aszú vintage for Tokaj due to the long and very dry summer, thus little botrytis for aszú berries.
2010 – a terrible vintage, with record rainfall all across the country. Annual rainfall for the previous record year of 1936 has been reached by September. Fortunately, a two week gap in rainfall in November gave a chance for late ripening varietals like furmint and hárslevelű, and also sweet wines in Tokaj. A reasonable, or even good year on quality for dedicated producers with extremely hard work, but extremely low on quantity. Complete, or nearly complete loss of crops in several places with more or less adequate sugars, but nearly always very high acidity. Probably a severe lack of grapes for the production of reasonable basic and cash flow wines.