The Many Flavors of Tokaj

I’ve always let my taste guide my interest in the world of wine. The flavors that resonate with me most often lead me to esoteric, or at least non-mainstream, regions and styles. One country I cannot get enough of is Hungary. The diversity of flavors and styles offered by traditional varieties and regions is impressive in its own right, but it is the quality and purity of unique flavor that draws me in deeper. One of my great interests in Hungarian wine are those of Tokaj. This historically lauded and anciently renowned region produces exceptional wines, both dry and sweet, through traditional techniques and with indigenous varieties. These are the same characteristics of top regions worldwide, and Tokaj is on the fast track to reclaiming its place among them. One thing I love is that you can find wines that are best by the glass and for everyday drinking, as well as a premium wines, at times the most expensive on the list, and worth every sip. The selection at the recent Blue Danube Wine Co. industry tasting at Terroir Tribeca showcased a commitment to a comprehensive sampling of the region’s best. There were wines from 7 different producers, not … Continue reading The Many Flavors of Tokaj

Countdown to MARKET TASTING NYC – after the show

Market Tasting NYC at Terroir Tribeca went off without a hitch. For those who could not be there, it was a blast and we missed you! Center stage Tokaji/Somlo wowed and dazzled, to oooohs, aaahhs and the odd exclamatory foot stomp. Part of the Blue Danube Wine Co. mission is to see the greatness of these historic regions realized again. These precious few samples were an important step. To all the producers who sent them, you rule. As do all the other producers wines who were poured. All together this was one of the finest events we have participated in and it would not be possible without your wines! A special thanks to co-host Indie Wineries, made us feel like family.

Somló – Wines of the Volcano Gods

If you type “Somló, 8481 Doba, Hungary” into Google Earth, you will virtually hover over an irregular oval in a sea of quadrilaterals. For those who have forgotten geometry, Somló hill and the vineyards circling its flanks look just like what they are: a long-extinct volcano rising from a flat patchwork of otherwise angular fields.It is a striking geological formation, about three-quarters of a mile in diameter, whose combination of ancient seabed and volcanic basalt soils set Somló apart as a uniquely white-wine region—and the only dedicated region whose wines more than hold their own with the better-known whites of Tokaj. At Blue Danube’s recent trade tasting in Manhattan, I had the opportunity to sample six Somló wines from two producers. The grape varieties are familiar from Tokaj, to the east—Furmint, Hárslevelű, Olaszrizling (Welschriesling)—with the addition of the rare Juhfark, which grows only in Somló. The two producers, Fekete Béla and Spiegelberg, are clearly different in style. Also, the Furmints are notably lighter and leaner than the Tokaj examples I tasted, and are higher in acidity and minerality, a trend I suspect would extend to the other varieties equally. Fekete Bela The trio of wines made by Mr. Fekete are … Continue reading Somló – Wines of the Volcano Gods

Grape Festival at the Slovenian Hall

What a memorable way to begin my career with Blue Danube! The other Saturday, Frank and I introduced some of Blue Danube’s current Slovenian portfolio at the Slovenian fair in San Francisco. It was both charming and informative discussing Slovenian wine with Slovenians. More than once did a Kabaj wine invoke a smile and a personal history. Cheerful strains of a Slovenian folk duo consisting of an accordion and a stringed fretted bass instrument echoed in the hall while some of the more free spirited Slovenians danced. The entertainment made for a great tasting atmosphere. The crowd favorite of the tasting was the Crnko Yellow Muscat. One of my favorite wines we were tasting was the Stoka Teran 2009-a fleet wine with an intense raspberry flavor, and touches of cinnamon and pepper. All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a more delightful introduction to Slovenian wine culture and Slovenian culture at large. Plus, now I know how well the Stoka Teran pairs with mushroom brie.

Countdown to MARKET TASTING NYC III

Today is Blue Danube Wine Co.’s break-out NY Trade debut at Terroir Tribeca. Too close for comfort, all the samples have arrived. Were it not for Zsuzsa’s hard work, Fed-Ex and customs would have never known how bad we needed these wines! Double luck: Frank Dietrich swang by JFK via SFO to pick up the J and J Eger Kekefrankos we were also waiting on! That means all our samples have arrived on time for the tasting. We are so proud to be a part of this vinous cultural process and so excited to share (drink) these wines we love so much. You soon will too! NYC, here we come!! Tokaji—Eden Abandoned—No region has impressed us at Blue Danube Wine Co. as the volcanic hills of Europe’s first protected wine region, Tokaj-Hegyalja. It is to us what Burgundy is to others. A chain of 400 volcanoes of impossible geological and microclimatological complexity, a long history as a wine region and a plethora of indigenous varieties and styles of wine, we can’t get enough of it. Some say there is a wine renaissance underway in Tokaj today; we are inclined to agree. All our samples have finally arrived from Hungary! Bodrog … Continue reading Countdown to MARKET TASTING NYC III

Countdown to MARKET TASTING NYC II

In honor of Blue Danube Wine Co.’s break-out NY Trade debut at Terroir Tribeca this coming Thursday, we plan to introduce a bunch of ultra special Hungarian wines that are being air freighted to NY as we speak. Days away, we are all wondering: will they make it in time??! The Jury is out, but the good news is that the 2nd of 4 deliveries has just arrived! Will the others make it? Hard to say! Let the count down begin, 2!! Here is a sneak peak: We, Blue Danubians, are accustomed to remarks noting the exotic names and natures of the varieties we source, so to praise the likes of a grape as common as Pinot Noir feels quite strange to us! Occasionally a wine demands it though. Vylyan Pinot Noir is possibly the most decorated wine in Hungary: awards and accolades cover the bottle like the pins of a military general. Vylyan planted Pinot Noir vines where fog gathers and grapes ripen slowly, in a belly button shaped depression smack dab in the middle of Villány, Hungary—basically their Cabernet country. It should be illegal to invoke Burgundy when talking about Pinot Noir that is not actually Burgundian, but … Continue reading Countdown to MARKET TASTING NYC II

Countdown to MARKET TASTING NYC I

In honor of Blue Danube Wine Co.’s break-out NY Trade debut at Terroir Tribeca this coming Thursday, we plan to introduce a bunch of ultra special Hungarian wines that are being air freighted to NY as we speak. Days away, we are all wondering: will they make it in time??! The Jury is out, but the good news is that the 1st of 4 deliveries has just arrived! Will the others make it? Hard to say! Let the count down begin, 3!! Here is a sneak peak: Little appellation, big WINES Millions of years ago, Somló, Hungary’s smallest appellation, was an underwater volcano. Now dormant, its southerly slopes of ancient sea sediment and basalt are home to some of Hungary’s steepest, most densely planted vineyards. Minutely divided, these rarely trellised parcels of vines are workable only by hand. The cellars and size of the production are also the smallest in Hungary, and again worked by hand. Somló’s exclusively white wines are typically made from Hárslevelű, Furmint, Olaszrizling, or the local rarity Jufark. The soil really “gets into the wines” and they are among the most distinctive wines we have ever encountered; aromas lean towards dried fruits, dried herbs and rare … Continue reading Countdown to MARKET TASTING NYC I