Volcanic Interview #5: Eva Cartwright

Eva Cartwright, importer of Hungarian wines in UK and owner of the Somlo wine shop, tells us about her #govolcanic project, Hungarian wines and the potential of the volcanic wines business.

Eva Cartwright

When did you become interested in volcanic wines? 
I was born and raised in one of the most characteristic volcanic wine regions of Hungary, Somlo. I have a wineshop/winebar here. Having had the honour to be John Szabo MS’s local guide on Somlo during his research for his book on Volcanic wines in 2014, the idea of developing this niche further started to form in me. In 2015 it crystallised into #govolcanic – a project collective name, also a summarising hashtag I invented. I started to develop a UK sales- project for the wines I have already been working with – extending the niche to my entire country – then hopefully next year to Central European Region also.

What kinds of styles of wines do you import? 
The main governing factor is volcanic soil. Quality over quantity and uniqueness in terms of varietal, style, region is also a common characteristic across the portfolio. These latter criteria also allow for some wines not necessarily or strictly only from a volcanic vineyard of a predominantly volcanic region. These are sometimes to either contrast their lava-based fellow wines or to show a geological feature equally unique to the volcanic background. For example I have an Eger kékfrankos that is from a volcanic region but this particular wine is from a 100% limestone plot. I also have Raspi wines from Sopron from such a singular and unique schiss-based growing area that some wines from here; display more minerality than the most brutal lava-based ones.

Do you see a growing interest in London for volcanic wines? 
Absolutely. People love it. The appeal is extremely and unusually wide, too. Finally a wine-niche that can interest the husband who is ready to try something unique after years of the same Chablis, the wife who is amazed by the visual scenery of these ancient extinct volcanoes and already plans her next family holiday there, and also the kids who are fascinated by the science behind the concept and can be kept entertained for hours with rock-samples alone. Also the over-hyped hospitality sector of London is desperate for new and unique ideas, tastes and hidden treasures. I can confidently say that – thanks to John’s book-launch timing also – #govolcanic is an absolute hit, in the right place, at the right time.

Why did you decide to focus on Hungarian volcanic wines? 
I am from a volcano – pretty much predestines my inclination. Also, I am totally and utterly in love with Somlo and its wines – I literally feel sick if I have to be away too long from them. I believe with a passion that Somlo is one of the world’s most unique terroirs. Once you taste wines from this tiny, mere 400 hectares small hill, you will be able to pick them out from a 1000 others. The people, the view, the almost entirely indigenous grapewine population all adds to the magic of this place.

Do you plan to extend your portfolio to other volcanic wine regions ?
Yes. I plan to go over the border of current Hungary next year. My slogan already says : “..from the ancient vineyards of Old Hungary” – under old Hungary I mean the country of the Austro – Hungarian Empire and the centuries before, up until the end of WW I, when our country was broken up and shrunk to its current area.

For info about the UK based import company check out the website Witness Mountain

Click here for info on the Hungarian wine shop click here 

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