Bencze 'Autochton' White 2020
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Direct Press Selection • January 2023
István Bencze left his IT job to work his grandparents' vineyards in the Lake Balaton region of western Hungary. He was always working organically but he went fully natural in the cellar and stopped using sulfur in 2017 after inspired visits to winemakers Ewald Tscheppe of Werlitsch, Roland Tauss, and Zsolt Sütö of Strekov 1075. He has been certified Biodynamic by Demeter since 2014.
Bencze's wines are some of the most thrilling I've come across recently. This blend of indigenous varieties includes Furmint, Harslevelu, and the rare Keknyelú and Rószakö, all from the basalt, volcanic soils overlooking the vacation-destination Lake Balaton. It's sizzling and stony with dusty apple skin crunch and almond notes. István says he likes "acidity-driven wines with a nice saltiness,” and so do I. He certainly nailed it with this one. Jonathan Kemp