Market Tasting NYC

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.

The Tokaji samples ready for tasting
All our samples have finally arrived from Hungary!

Bodrog Borműhely
Bodrog is one of the rivers responsible for the humidity in Tokaj’s vineyards. The Borműhely or “wine(bor) work shop” belongs to Janos Hajduz and Krisztián Farkas. They maintain tiny parcels of vineyards in great sites to make their pure, modern/classical wines from. Harvest for the dry wines is typically conducted mid October by hand and careful sorting eliminates botrytis. After a gentle crushing, the grapes are fermented spontaneously at unregulated temperature in barrels coopered of local Szerednye oak. Sur-lie aging, regular batonage, full malolactic fermentation and 6 months élevage proceed bottling.

2011 Bodrog Borműhely Hárslevelű-Furmint blend ”Löszbor”
2011 Bodrog Borműhely Furmint “Lapis”

Demeter, Zoltan
Demeter, Zoltan can be credited, if not for introducing quality dry wine to Tokaji, then certainly perfecting it. He is the young “Godfather”. Having made more Grand Cru single vineyard dry wine than maybe anyone else in the region, the close relationship Demeter shares with the sites he farms are evident in his nuanced wines. As vigneron he is equal parts philosopher and craftsman. His home and cellar are filled with antiques, things made to last. Made in the same spirit, his wines are chiseled, multifaceted and brilliantly transparent of character, like flawless diamonds. They could be compared stylistically to the most powerfully structured Grosse Gewächs.

2009 Zoltan Demeter Hárslevelű “Szerelmi”
2011 Zoltan Demeter Furmint “Veres”

József and Judit Bodó are from Csallóköz, an ethnic Hungarian region in Slovakia, which is not exactly a wine growing area. Following her love of wine, Judit went to work for a producer in South Tirol who later hired her onto a project in Tokaj managing the affairs of a small artisan winery. After the birth of their son, József and Judit decided to focus on their own family winery. He more on the vines, her on the wines. In 2005, they harvested fruit from 1 ha and in 2006 Bott became a registered winery. Today the couple tends about 5 ha spread among various sites most near the village of Erdobeny, each year adding to their holdings what the previous vintage allows them to afford. Heeding the dream of his wife to have their own winery in Tokaj, József took on the labor of actually looking for the vineyards. Considering that they are relative new comers to the region and their minuscule production, the substantial acclaim the Bott wines have received both locally and internationally is remarkable.

2011 Bott Furmint “Csontos”
2011 Bott Hárslevelű “Hatari”

Before phylloxera, 100’s of grape varieties populated Tokaj-Heyalja’s historic volcanic hills. The rare Kövérszőlő (Que-veyr-soo-loo), or “fat grape”, once an important local variety, is among the few that are not lost, and it is a specialty of 3rd generation Tokaji winemaker Sarolta Bardos. After extensive experience at some of the biggest and best wineries at home and abroad, Sarolta is today fully dedicated to the 6 hectares of vineyards she planted in 99′. Her incorporation of lesser varieties along with the classical Furmint and Hárslevelű and the unique style of her wines suggest a wine maker looking to distinguish herself from the rest of the region’s producers. Savory and deeply textured, dark, not in color but mood, very sophisticated.

2010 Nobilis Hárslevelű
2009 Nobilis Kövérszőlő

Samuel Tinon
The crazy Frenchman of Olasliszka may save one of the most anomalous styles of Tokaji from extinction: dry Szamorodni is a wine born of fresh and botrytis fruit that is briefly macerated on the skins and aged extensively in barrel under a flor of Cladosporium Cellare, a fungus unique to Tokaj cellars. It is a wine beyond compare. Samuel Tinon grew up on his family’s estate in Sainte-Croix du Mont, near Bordeaux. He graduated in viticulture and oenology in 1989 travelling the world as a flying winemaker in Australia, Texas, Chile, and Italy. The Tokaj adventure began in 1991. He was the first Frenchman to settle in the region. During 15 years, he worked as a consultant and followed the evolution of the Tokaj styles for numerous companies. Today, he owns a few hectares of densely planted head pruned Furmint and Harslevelu that average 90 years of age, on the classed slope of Hatari near his home and cellar in Olasliska. His wines are reference point Tokaji, made in antique styles, a window to the future and past. “I’m not a revolutionary. I came with an idea, to build something.”

2007 Samuel Tinon Dry Szamorodni
2005 Samuel Tinon Tokaji Aszù 5 Puttonyos

The Dorogi brothers are close friends with the Budo’s. Judit introduced us one night and we tasted an exceptional line up of their expressive, traditionally styled wines from the 8 hectares of mixed vineyards they farm. Locally famous names like Elöhegy, Lönyai, Thurzó, Mézes Ma’l grace the labels of their dry and off-dry wines. Their sweet Aszú and Esszencia wine are blends of these sites. Fermented only with native yeast typically in old 220 liter Gonci, (glass for the Esszencia) at cellar cool temperatures, fermentation is slow, sometimes taking years for the sweetest.

Spiegelberg Wedding Wine
Spiegelberg Jufark Hárslevelű Furmint “Wedding Wine” ready for tasting