A few weeks ago I had a wine aged in Hungarian oak. I tried looking up what this meant in terms of effect on the wine, but didn’t get very far.
Last night I was at another wine tasting and a Hungarian lady was there. So she did a more in-depth search in Hungarian and told me it had something to do with the tannins.
Armed with this info I searched again and a whole plethora of articles cane up. It turns out there are 3 different species of oak used for wine barrels:
Quercus Alba grown in America which gives strong aromas and flavors to wine, including coconut and vanilla.
Quercus Robur grown in Europe and provides more heft and higher tannins to the wine
Quercus Petraea grown in Europe and provides elegance, sweetness and aromatic compounds
The European oak is primarily sourced from forests in central France where both oak varieties can be found in the same forest. The two species will hybrid together over the millennia.
In wine the Petraea oak is prized over the Robur oak for its aromatic qualities. Turns out Hungary has huge forests of both the European oak species and because they are geologically younger forests there are less hybrids. They have also been managed well since the 16th century. 52% of their oak is the Petraea and it is particularly prevalent in the Northern forests.
So Hungarian oak is not different per se from French oak but it is a great new source for the wine industry.
Roll over France because here comes Hungary.
Check out the Forbes article below for more information.
Featured image of Hungarian Oak forests taken from the Forbes.com article above.