Sommelier Jeff Berlin from À Côté (Oakland) in Tokaj. Tokaji Aszu, certainly the most famous wine from Hungary, may even be the most famous sweet wine of the world. Still, for all its fame, it is often passed over both on restaurant menus and store shelves. But why? Those of us who have experienced the beauty and joys of drinking Tokaji cannot comprehend such behavior among fellow wine lovers. After a few months of tasting with industry insiders and the general public, I have come to realize that people are afraid. Restaurant owners are afraid to put it on the list because they don’t think anyone will order it. At stores, patrons are afraid to take a bottle home because they don’t know if their guests will like it. This fear afflicts even those purchasers who love the wine and recognize its value. It’s no shocker that the king of wine and wine of kings has earned a reputation for being a bit pricey, and admittedly, the prices can climb to the upper end of the scale. Even when it’s a great value, expensive price tags are not in fashion. The American stigma against sweet wines, a rapidly changing dogma, … Continue reading Time For Tokaji
powerfully flavored wild Belon oysters Most of my family holidays are spent on Peaks Island, Maine. A 30 minute ferry ride from the city of Portland, it is one of the most populous of the 365 Calendar Islands. In the summer tourists rule the place, gobbling up lobster and overloading the ferry, winter belongs to the wicked Nor Easter storms and the fishermen. Albeit unknowingly; I must thank my parents, for relocating from Southern California, to this, one of America’s great food destinations. Recently, my mom made friends with a favorite local oysterman. It was rumored that his were the best, so for this most recent visit she order 3½ dozen for just 4 of us. The guy hand delivered his day’s catch to the door. Most were these deliciously fresh, even sweet locally farmed ‘America’ oysters, but the real treat were the dozen strongly flavored wild Belon. Forgoing the typical compliment of Muscadet, or Chablis, I selected something more appropriate for the season. After all, in Maine, winter is the best season for oysters; so why should we drink summer wine? Receipt for the oysters My wife Kristyn and I were on the Peljesac Peninsula in Southern Croatia a … Continue reading Shucking Plavac
The tasting line-up The other weekend, we had the visit of John Szabo, Canada’s first Master Sommelier and also co-owner of the Hungarian winery J and J Eger Wine Company. During his stay in San Francisco, he co-hosted a Hungarian wine tasting seminar with Matthew Stamp of the Guild of Sommeliers at Morton’s Steakhouse. The tasting featured 13 wines covering 6 major wine producing areas including Mátra, Szekszárd, Sopron, Eger, Villány, and last but not least, Tokaj. Our first flight featured 2 whites from Mátra and 2 reds from Szekszárd. Mátra is a wine producing region located in the northeast part of the country, in the foothills of the Matra Mountains. Characterized by cold winters and volcanic soils, the area is noted for its white wines. • Szõke Mátyás Királyleányka 2010: produced by Szõke Mátyás, one of Matra’s most important family-owned wineries. Királyleányka means “little princess” and is a traditional variety of Transylvanian origin. Light golden color, attractive floral nose of acacia blossom. On the palate, crisp, slightly waxy with grapefruit flavors and mineral notes on the finish. • Szõke Mátyás Irsai Oliver 2010: Irsai Oliver is a hybrid grape variety from the Muscat family. Intensely aromatic with rose petal … Continue reading Hungarian wine tasting seminar with John Szabo
This afternoon I got a call from our friend and wine brother, Luis Moya of Vinos Unico. Luis had another one of his many – often very good – marketing ideas. He was just about to post their Top 5 Wines for 2011 on the Vinos Unico web site. Luis wanted to convince me to do the same and later we would together with our colleagues from Return to Terroir selected and market the Top 5 wines of the famous in-famous #Port4lio group. I told Luis that this is a great idea but that we are already overworked and overcommitted. If you know Luis you know that he does not give up and never sleeps, so two hours later I see a tweet in which Luis asks us to put some effort into this project and to publish our Top 5 on our web site. So here they are: No 1: Donkey Peljesac, Plavac Mali, Vinarija Dingac, Peljesac Peninsula 2010No 2: Geyerhof: Gruner Veltliner Rosensteig, Kremstal 2009No 3: Bibich, B6 Riserva, Northern Dalmatia 2008No 4: Eszterbauer Kadarka, Szekszard 2009No 5: Kabaj Rebula, Goriska Brda 2008 Cheers, and Thank You for your support.