The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2017

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july 2017  /  the tasting panel  /  91 TRAVELING Central Europe's Treasure HUNGARY'S LAKE BALATON IS A WINE REGION WORTH A TRIP by Izzy Watson PHOTOS COURTESY OF HUNGARIAN TOURISM AGENCY L ocated in Western Hungary, Balaton is first and foremost Central Europe's largest freshwater lake, but there are plenty of other reasons to visit, including its history and significance as a winemaking region with remarkable resorts. The geographical traits of this wonderful freshwater lake, considered the "Hungarian sea" by locals, and its surroundings—including the thermal sources, the volcanic soil and the basalt mountains— create a picturesque backdrop for winery trips and restaurant visits. Lake Hévíz, near Balaton, is the world's largest biologically active natural thermal lake, rich in minerals like magnesium and calcium, creating an ideal venue for medical therapies. The water temperature may be around 77 degrees in winter and 97 degrees in summer, and the water constantly moves, lending a massaging effect. After taking a dip, visit the area's historical relics and archeo- logical excavations from the end of the Stone Age. It's no wonder this lake, together with the adjacent volcanic hills, were included in the recommendation list of the World Heritage National Hungarian Committee. Famous for the basalt mountains on the northern shoreline of Balaton, Tapolca Basin, Badacsony and its vicinity have some of the country's most beautiful landscapes. Tapolca is home to many unique natural wonders, includ- ing the Stone Gate of Badacsony, the basalt organs of the Szentgyörgy Hill and rare plants and birds, such as gladiolus, broomrape and protected greylag goose. Just like Siófok, Balatonfüred, the Káli basin or even Tihany, Badacsony serves as a perfect location for activities, year-around events and gastronomic and cultural festivals. When we say gastronomy by the Lake Balaton, we also mean viticulture. The stunning Mediterranean-style vineyards, whose first vines were planted by the Romans, sit alongside tiny villages with amazing hospitality and breathtaking views. Whether travelers sip Juhfark, Riesling, Kéknyelu", Pinot Gris or Furmint (previously developed as Tokaj's exclusive grape type), they will experience a well-rounded wine, clearly indicative of its origin and this region, independent of its grape type. The complexity seen in the viticulture, its developments and projects prove that this region has a promising future—and absolutely merits a visit. The name of the mountain peak and the town beside it, Badacsony has natural wonders and rare flora and fauna. The Lake Balaton region was first planted with grapes in Roman times. Located in Western Hungary, Balaton is Central Europe's largest freshwater lake. Lake Hévíz, near Balaton, is the world's largest biologically active natural thermal lake and is a popular venue for medical therapies.

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