#WineWednesday Spotlight #127: Lapati Kidev Erti Chinuri

lapati petnat
Lapati Pét-nats

“Crazy delicious, indeed,” writes Bon Appétit’s wine editor Marissa A. Ross. “And while I love French wines, Italian wines, and Spanish wines— honestly, all the wines—today Central European countries are the ones driving wine, and its culture, forward. They are fresh, invigorating, and mind-bending, proving that wine is constantly evolving and there is always something new to explore.”

She recommends seven wild wines from Central Europe including the Lapati Kidev Erti Chinuri, one of her recent favorite bottles:

This wine is buzzy in all the ways. Not only are Georgian pét-nats few and far between in the States, but this sparkler of the native white Chinuri grape evokes images of honeybees bustling around fresh citrus blossoms. Cloudy-dandelion in color, the Lapati Kidev Erti Chinuri smells and tastes like orange trees in the spring with wafts of cantaloupe, honey, and fresh laundry. With sudsy bubbles and bright acidity, pop it and you will be singing along with the chorus of Kendrick Lamar’s “Yah” in no time. Buzzin…

This Georgian buzzy bubbly is a natural white sparkling wine made by two French natural wine makers Vincent Jullien and Guillaume Gouerou, who founded Lapati Wines in Georgia in order to make natural wines using the traditional Qvevri wine-making method.

For this wine, they used Chinuri, a native Georgian grape variety mostly planted in the Kartli region in central-to-eastern Georgia. The grape produces elegant dry whites and performs exceptionally well in sparkling wines. Also the name Kidev Erti is actually a pun: it means “one more” in Georgian but also sounds like the French “qui divertit”, “what entertains” in English.

Get ready to be entertained with the Lapati pét-nats and with Marissa’s seven wild wines: 7 Wild Wines from Central Europe You Need to Czech Out Now.

#WineWednesday Spotlight #126: Kikelet Furmint

Furmint Ladies
Let’s drink Furmint with Judit Bodó (Bott), Stéphanie Berecz (Kikelet) and Sarolta Bárdos (Tokaj Nobilis). Photo: Furmint Day

It’s still Furmint February and what better way to celebrate this fiery grape than with a glass of Tokaji from the region’s most gifted female winemakers, Judit Bodó from Bott, Stéphanie Berecz from Kikelet and Sarolta Bárdos from Tokaj Nobilis?

See how delicious the Kikelet Furmint 2014 is, according to Charine Tan and Dr. Matthew Horkey over at Exotic Wine Travel and cited by Furmint Day in this Instagram post:

“The Kikelet Birtokbor Furmint 2014 is an exemplar of dry Tokaji. The grapes of this bottling underwent long, spontaneous fermentation in old oak barrels. The wine expresses a floral and fiery overtone, accompanied by a core of green apple, flint, almond oil, and lime. Great fruit intensity on the palate with a tertiary hint of spiciness. The high acidity in this wine cleanses the palate and makes it rather food-friendly.” http://exoticwinetravel.com/kikelet-furmint-birtokbor-tokaji-2014/

You’ll find Stéphanie’s wines, Judit’s wines and Sarolta’s wines on our webshop.

#WineWednesday Spotlight #125: Bott Határi Furmint

Judit Bodo
Judit Bodó in her cellar

“I had previously had some sweet wines from Tokaj and had a sense of how good they are (though I didn’t fully appreciate how diverse and complex they can be). But I had only had a few dry wines from Tokaj–and that was my primary reason for visiting the region.” writes wine blogger John Brooks over at The WineO in a post called Tokaj: Sweet, But Not Just Sweet.

His first visit was Bott Pince where he met Judit Bodó, who made a powerful impression on him.

For those who have visited a number of wineries and tasted with a number of winemakers, you know that the experience you have affects your perception of wine. That rosé you drank with the winemaker on a beautiful afternoon at a harborside café in the south of France is probably not one of the world’s great wines, like it seemed at the time. So I wondered if the fact that we were so charmed by Judit made us love the wine. No worries–I’ve tasted it since I got home and still love it. While most Americans may not know the wines of Bott, insiders do–and respect them. Hungarian-Canadian master sommelier John Szabo, who has studied and written about the region, is a big fan. Tellingly, so are the other winemakers we talked to in Tokaj. I have not found Bott wines on the shelves in any of our shops in DC (Hungarian wines don’t have the presence they deserve) but they can be ordered directly from the website of importer Blue Danube Wines.

Hatari Vineyard
The Határi vineyard

Read the rest of John’s visit on his blog and try a dry Furmint like the Bott Határi Furmint, one of Judit’s best dry wines. The Furmint grape from the famed Határi vineyard produces rich dry wines full of minerality, acidity with a mouth coating texture. It’s a wonderful accompaniment to curry dishes, sauerkraut, or simply enjoy it as an apéritif.

Mátyás Szőke is Hungarian Vintner of the Year 2017

Photo: www.szokematyas.hu

The Hungarian Vintner of the Year award is the most prestigious award a vintner can receive in Hungary and this year, Mátyás Szőke is the first vintner from the Mátra wine region to ever win it in the award’s 27-year-old history.

“Wine is a unique product,” says Mátyás. “It has a soul, a personality, a history. It develops and becomes stronger and wiser in its bottle, and it eventually dies. Fruit rots, flowers wither, food goes bad, but wine is the only thing that is like a human, even in its passing.”

Szoke vineyards
Szőke vineyards in Matra

Mátyás has been producing wine since the 1970’s. He continues to manage the vineyards and sales while his son Zoltán, an university trained enologist, makes the wine and runs the cellar. The estate produces a wide range of mainly dry white wines from native and international varietals that are served in numerous Hungarian Embassies and featured in many of the best restaurants in Budapest.

Read the whole story at: https://dailynewshungary.com/hungarian-vintner-year-2017-selected/

Furmint February!

Furmint February
Celebrate Furmint all month!

Back in 2012 we attended the 3rd ever Furmint February tasting event in Budapest founded by Dániel Kézdy. There were 55 producers attending. At that point, I couldn’t name more than 10 producers and had tasted far less. It was equal parts significantly humbling and exciting. This year, there are 104 producers attending. The growth is clear and it’s quality driven. In 2012 Blue Danube had 2 producers with Furmint, now we have 15 and counting.

Judit and József Bodó from Bott
Judit and József Bodó from Bott

Furmint February and Furmint Day (Feb 1st) are also not limited to this tasting, but a celebration of Furmint all month, all over Hungary, and beyond. It should be said that Furmint is also produced in Slovenia (Šipon), Slovakia, Germany, Croatia (Šipon/Moslavac), South Africa, Serbia, Romania, Austria (Mosler), Crimea and even a little bit right here in California just to name just a few. However, the commercial hub and linkage to national wine identity is most pronounced in Hungary. Hungarians sing about Tokaj in their National Anthem where Furmint is the most planted grape.

Hajdú János & Farkas Krisztián from Bodrog Borműhely
Hajdú János & Farkas Krisztián from Bodrog Borműhely

Additionally, I also believe that Furmint captures the volcanic nature of Hungary. Above and beyond the thermal baths and killer mineral water, volcanic terroir runs through most of the country, not just Tokaj. A rant I’m fond of stumbling into is while there is well deserved hype over volcanic appellations like the Canary Islands, Santorini, Sicily and so on, Hungary (and others in the volcanic Pannonian basin) are rarely a part of that conversation.

Sarolta Bárdos from Tokaj Nobilis
Sarolta Bárdos from Tokaj Nobilis

Furmint, with its naturally high acidity, ability to attain high sugar levels, and ability to find balance with botrytis, is an ideal grape to embody the salt, smoke and density from these volcanic soils. Add to this that Furmint can do this as a dry, off dry, sparkling, oxidative, flor aged, reductive, and make perhaps the best botritzed sweet wines in the world and there’s reason we have 15 producers and counting.

Samuel Tinon
Samuel Tinon

Our Furmint producers: Apátsági, Barta, Bodrog Borműhely, Bott, Demeter Zoltán, Dorogi, Fekete, Füleky, Kikelet, Kreinbacher, Patricius, Spiegelberg, Tinon, Tokaj Nobilis, and Tornai.

Zoltán Balogh
Apátsági’s Zoltán Balogh

So please let February be an excuse to join the wine communities of Central Europe and celebrate a grape that deserves attention. The wines are also delicious.

#WineWednesday Spotlight #124: Patricius Dry Furmint

patricius wine cellar
Old wine cellar at Patricius

For blogger Steve Mirsky, Furmint is Hungary’s answer to other less mainstream white wines gaining prominence lately, such as Austria’s Grüner Veltliner. “Now is the perfect time to be a hero,” he writes, “and skip your go-to Chardonnay or Riesling.”

If you’re ready to skip your usual Chardonnay for the vibrant Furmint, here is Steve’s review of the 2015 Patricius Dry Furmint from Tokaj:

Patricius began purchasing first-growth classified vineyards in 1997, now totaling 346 acres. Their wine press house built over 200 years ago and then owned and operated by the Jesuits and aristocratic families, was renovated into a state-of-the-art underground winery in 2005 utilizing gravitational technology yet preserving original architectural details. It is here that winemakers showcase the local Furmint grape’s vibrant minerality and well-balanced acidity in their lineup particularly in their 2015 Dry Furmint.

Harvesting begins in September, with fermentation and maturation taking place entirely in stainless steel allowing the grapes to showcase a darker refreshing mouth feel similar to cold cask conditioned ale complemented with a refreshing bite ranging from fresh apple to spring greens. Well balanced fruit with honeyed spice on the nose, its brisk even minerality sets the stage for a cleansed palate pairing nicely with chicken, seafood, and sushi.

You can read the whole article here.

Now, do you know that tomorrow February 1st is Furmint Day? Drink Furmint, whether it’s dry, off dry, sparkling, under flor, or sweet, and share your experience with your friends! Actually, the whole month of February is the month of Furmint, so enjoy Furmint! #FurmintDay

#furmintday is coming!

Eric in Tokaj
Eric Danch in Tokaj

There is so much well deserved hype over volcanic appellations like the Canary Islands, Santorini, Sicily and so on, but Hungary and its surrounding regions in the Pannonian basin are rarely mentioned.

Whether from Tokaj, Somló or Mátra (to name just a few), Furmint is an ideally suited grape for these regions’ rich volcanic soils. With naturally high acidity, ability to attain high sugar levels, and ability to find balance with botrytis, it also still carries its own flavors along with the salt, smoke and density from the volcanic soils. Furthermore, Furmint can do this vinified as dry, off dry, sparkling, oxidatively, under flor, reductively, and sweet.

The second International Furmint Day is February 1st 2018. Celebrate Furmint on that day, taste it, like it, share it! #furmintday

#WineWednesday Spotlight #123: Balla Géza Fetească Neagră

Harvest at Balla Géza
Harvest at Balla Geza, Romania

“There’s much more to Romanian wine than cheap Pinot,” writes wine columnist Henry Jeffreys in Food & Wine. “ The country has a wealth of indigenous grapes such as Fetească Regală and Crâmpoşie for whites, and for reds Fetească Neagră, Novac and the wonderfully named Negru de Drăgăşani (it’s pronounced something like Drer-ger-sharn which sounds like a character from Game of Thrones).”

A trip to visit Romanian wineries took him to the historical city of Timișoara in Western Romania and the nearby Balla Géza Winery:

Timișoara has the feel of a miniature Vienna or Budapest. The west of Romania used to be part of the Austro-Hungarian empire and there’s still a strong Hungarian influence. Balla Géza, owner of another vineyard near the city, Princess Winery (they do love a Princess in Romania) is Hungarian. Alongside the Romanian and international varieties he grows Hungarian grapes such as the white Furmint (famous for Tokaji) and the reds Kadarka and Kekfrankos (Blaufrankisch in Austria) He was manager for the state wine company and when Communism collapsed managed to buy up the best land at very reasonable prices, he told me with a glint in his eye.

Tourism is very important for him too. He has a guest house on site and an extremely good cook. On my visit we feasted on roast duck with quinces, stuffed cabbage leaves and roast loin of pork in a cream sauce.

Balla Géza is our first producer from Romania and Fetească Neagră is our first native Romanian red grape variety. Fetească Neagră means the “black girl” and originates from the Eastern part of Transylvania. The wine is deliciously fruity, spicy with round tannins and makes an excellent accompaniment for savory stuffed cabbage leaves.

From Balla Géza, you should also try the spicy red Cadarca and aromatic white Mustoasă de Măderat.

#WineWednesday Spotlight #122: Santomas Refošk

Santomas Refosk
Photo: Jim van Bergen

Wine enthusiast Jim van Bergen has an entertaining wine blog that driven by his passion for finding wines that his readers will enjoy, want to share, and love to taste. In one of his latest posts, he highly recommends Etty Lewensztain’s PLONK Wine Club as a holiday gift:

Etty is a sommelier who sources delicious world wines at under $30/bottle. She curates artisanal, small-batch, sustainably grown, organic and biodynamic boutique wines from around the globe for PLONK. Etty’s club is designed for both the new wine lover who wants to learn about wine, as well as those like myself – jaded oenophiles who know what they like but like trying new and exciting things, and LOVE finding new, small-batch producers who are making their way in the world offering tremendous values. . . . . Why do I like her approach? Well first, I liked her wine choices. They’re great!

He particularly enjoyed the Santomas Refošk 2015, included in one of the club shipments:

Color is deep garnet, with an opaque center. The nose offers dark red fruit, heat, eucalyptus, and forest floor. On the palate, I received full-bodied sour cherry, red plum, with strong tannins and mouthwatering acidity. Final notes of small stones, sodium and red currants. This is a fascinating wine; I immediately wanted another sip. For a second time, getting that memory of the fruit and a hint of bitterness on the moderate finish, I wanted this with pizza or adjaruli khachapuri (Georgian cheese bread) but it would work with a myriad of flavors. It actually complemented both a wurst and dark chocolate so beautifully, but any flavorful or savory dish would complement nicely. At $22/bottle I’d like to open this with friends and some snacks just to discuss. This is a wine-lover’s delight, for sure- but a foodie wine as well. I’m going to need to find more Slovenian wines!

Well, we have many delicious Slovenian wines in our webshop. Check them out, and if you like reasonably priced artisanal wines from around the globe, check out Etty Lewensztain’s PLONK Wine Club.

#WineWednesday Spotlight #121: Brkić Mjesečar

Brkić Mjesečar

Every year, wine professional Pamela Busch makes a list of the most memorable wines she had over the past 12 months. One of them is the Brkić Mjesečar:

I’d wanted to try these wines for a while and finally had the opportunity at a Blue Danube Wine tasting over the summer. Josip Brkić is, from what I’ve heard, the only natural winemaker in Bosnia Herzegovina. Using biodynamic practices and indigenous grapes, he’s making very pure and effusive wines and Mjesecar, a skin-fermented white wine made from Zilavka, is exceptional. You can read more about it here. I hope his efforts will inspire other growers in BH to go down a more natural path. This year I’ve had a number of wines from the Balkans that have been on par with great wines from the rest of the continent, and hope this is just a glimpse of what the future holds. The former Yugoslav countries went through a horrendous period in the 90’s, and if the winemaking is one sign that things continue to improve for people in this part of the world, I’ll drink to that.

Mjesečar means the Moon Walker in Bosnian and it is Josip’s first wine made in a complete biodynamic way. All the farming and winemaking work is done according to the phases of the Moon as you can see on the wine’s label.

For Josip, producing a new wine is like giving birth to a new life. You should try it, the wine is magical.