Making Shrimp Curry for a glass of Bott Határi Hárslevelű

Making Shrimp Curry for a glass of Bott Határi Hárslevelű
2009 Bott Határi Hárslevelű

It was close to dinner time and I had just opened a bottle of 2009 Bott Határi Hárslevelű. As I swirled the wine in the glass, catching the wine’s fragrant aromas, I realized that it was screaming for South Asian spices, rich spices like turmeric, clove, ginger, coriander, nutmeg, cumin.

The Bott Határi Hárslevelű is a dry white wine from Tokaj, home to Tokaji Aszú, the world’s oldest botrytized wine, although Tokaj is increasingly well-known for its distinctive dry wines.

It is produced by Bott Pince, a small winery founded by Judit and József Bodó in March 2006. Bott is Judit’s maiden name and she is the one crafting the wines while her husband focuses on the vineyard. The majority of the region’s vineyards are planted with Furmint but Hárslevelű is Judit Bodó’s favorite varietal as she explained in a recent New York Times interview: “Sometimes the furmint is too harsh,” she said, “too ‘gerade’ in German, too ‘straight’ and harslevelu has more play. It’s more layered, it has more nose, it has more nuance.”

The Bodó family has 1.5 ha of vines on a west facing terraced slope in the classed vineyard of Határi. The soil is volcanic rocks mixed with clay. limestone, and chalk. Challenging growing conditions and an average vine age of 40 years result in low yields in the vineyard. The wine fermented in 220 liter barrels for 6 weeks using native yeast and remained in barrel for 9 more months.

That night, my dinner plan was to sauté some shrimps with garlic but after sniffing the wine, I decided to cook them with a Southeast Asian twist. Fortunately, between the pantry and the refrigerator, I had all the ingredients that I needed to accommodate the shrimps Thai style: fresh ginger and garlic, one onion, curry paste, a can of coconut milk, frozen bell pepper strips, and of course the shrimps.

As I retasted the wine during dinner, I was quite pleased with my shrimp curry dish. Far from being overwhelming, the medium-hot curry spices combined with the creamy coconut flavors were adding more dimensions to the wine.

Showing a light golden color, it had a flowery nose, slightly waxy, with notes of dried apricots and honey. On the palate, it was extremely creamy, mouth-filling, with a good amount of acidity. There was also some sweetness that interestingly disappeared on the finish, leaving an after-taste of dried herbs and mineral notes.