The Tasting Panel magazine

June 2018

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Central Europe's Treasure HUNGARY'S LAKE BALATON IS A WINE REGION WORTH VISITING 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. However, there are plenty of other reasons to visit the area, including its history and significance as a winemaking region with remarkable resorts. The geographical traits of this freshwater lake—considered the "Hungarian sea" by locals—and its surroundings, including the thermal sources, volcanic soil, and 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, it often serves as a venue for medical therapies and wellness treatments. The water temperature hovers around 77 degrees Fahrenheit in winter and 97 degrees in summer, and the water moves constantly, lending a massaging effect. After taking a dip, visit the area's historical relics and archeological 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 feature some of the country's most beautiful landscapes. Tapolca is home to many unique natural wonders, like the Stone Gate of Badacsony, the basalt organs of the Szentgyörgy Hill, and rare plants and birds, such as the gladiolus and protected greylag geese. Just like Siófok, Balatonfüred, the Káli basin, or even Tihany, Badacsony serves as a perfect location for year-round activities and events, including gastronomic and cultural festivals. Lake Balaton gastronomy also means 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 variety), they will experience a well-rounded wine that's clearly indicative of its origin and this region. The complexity seen in Lake Balaton's viticultural developments and projects proves the area has a promising future—and absolutely merits a visit. For more information, visit Badacsony, both the name of the mountain peak and the town beside it, features 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 wellness treatments. 34  /  the tasting panel  /  june 2018 TRAVELING

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