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 spices, heady, dense, gripping, chock full of smoky minerality and longevity. For US fans of this sort of thing, they make an unforgettable and rare treat.
In a past life, German/Hungarian Istvan Spiegelberg was a DJ and test driver for BMW. Making a bit of wine in Somló was just a hobby, his intention was not to make some of Hungary’s most cultish. Only a few years ago, Istvan traded in the fast lane for the farm. His home/cellar among his 2 hectares of vines has no running water or electricity. Still, he can regularly be found on Facebook.
Istvan, a self-described “minimal interventionist”, spends most of his times in his vineyards and cellar, so minimal is really more thoughtful. Grapes are hand-harvested, mainly by him. The wine is fermented in 500 liter used Hungarian oak barrels. No artificial yeasts are used for the long slow fermentations. All wines age at least 12 to 16 months in large oak barrels to the soothing sounds of Gregorian chamber music. The wines taste almost the same from barrel as bottle. Profound, stylish, modern, both futuristic and ancient. Dream wines.
2010 Spiegelberg Jufark, Hárslevelű, Furmint “Wedding Wine”
2010 Spiegelberg Olaszrizling Szent Ilona
2010 Spiegelberg Furmint Szent Ilona
“The Grand Old Man” of Somló, Fekete Béla, is Somló embodied. To know his wines is to know Somló. Like Spiegelberg, his presence there began as a hobby. While on a trip to buy grapes for his garage production, a farmer offered to sell Fekete his vineyards as he was getting too old to work them himself and Fekete accepted. There must be truth to the pro-ported health giving properties of Somlói: at 86, Fekete still tends his 4 hectares of beloved Fehérvári-cru. Care of the vines is his first interest, all work is by hand and the vines are cultivated with little or no synthetic treatments. Careful hand harvesting and sorting is followed by spontaneous fermentation in old, 1200 liter, casks of Hungarian oak, and 2 years aging before bottling. The wines are honest, engaging and highly expressive of the region. Appropriate to open the day they are released, they will likely last for decades and only deepen in their exotic, particularly mineral aroma and texture.
2007 Fekete Furmint
2008 Fekete Hárslevelű
2008 Fekete Juhfark