Hungary: The New France

Hungary is neither new, nor French, but both countries are lands of developed terroir. In fact, the concept may even be older in Hungary. The vineyards around the city of Tokaj were recognized as special early on and ranked through a formal classification in 1770, a century before Bordeaux received similar treatment. Tokaj is as faceted and hypnotic as Burgundy, Somló an enigma like Hermitage and Eger something of a mini Loire, but Hungarian wines are not French facsimiles, they are utterly different. What underlies the wines of both is the slow understanding of relationships between land, vine and wine that farmers have formed over centuries into the distinct archetypes they are today. The French models are better recognized, marketed and never suffered 50 years of collectivized production, but these things have little to do with the Hungarian wine Renaissance happening right now. Let’s taste it! It is not by accident that Samuel Tinon, French vigneron by birth makes strongly Hungarian Tokaji. He grew up on the estate of his family in St. Croix-du-Monts where his sister makes botrytis wines today. His restless curiosity took him around the world, studying, tasting and making wine. Samuel was drawn to Tokaj by … Continue reading Hungary: The New France

Dalmatian Island Wine: The Carić Winery

Our friends Andrew Villone, of Savor the Experience Tours, and Wine Awesomeness teamed up to present this informative interview with Ivana Carić herself about why you need to visit Hvar and her winery. Particularly interesting are her local food and wine pairing suggestions. We, the Carić family, love salted anchovies served with raštika (collard). We pair this with our white wine Bogdanjuša. Collard is a very old type of cabbage, eaten in the Roman times. Today, it’s hard to find this form of cabbage in the market or in stores, but every house on the island has it in its garden. Read the whole article here. Browse Carić wines here.

Amici Vinorum Olaszliszka and their 2013 Hárslevelű

The Amici Vinorum Olaszliszka (Friends of Wine of Olaszliszka) “Olaszliszka is an important village, it is our village. We feel like guest, we try to do something for the village. There a group of motivated people who all want to build and give value to this village. This is the start: Let’s do it.” — Samuel Tinon Olaszlizska is the largest village along the Bodrog River between Tokaj and Sárospatak and dates back to the 12th Century. It has formally been attached to the Tokaj appellation since 1560. Despite suffering through Ottoman times and a plague in the 1730’s, this village has been noted for top crus and famous wines for hundreds of years. Olaszliszka along the Bodrog river The soil is riddled with volcanic stones and Nyirok (red clay) and planted mostly to the Hárslevelű grape. The Amici Vinorum Olaszliszka (Latin for Olaszliszka Friends of Wine) is the combined efforts of 10 local winemakers to reaffirm the historical identity and importance of the village of Olaszliszka. Much like Burgundy, although many of the same grapes and styles are produced throughout the appellation, each village has a distinct identity. Tour of the vineyards in Olaszliszka Sourcing from vineyards like Csontos, … Continue reading Amici Vinorum Olaszliszka and their 2013 Hárslevelű

Austria’s Wine Future Looks Brightest in Burgenland

  Award-winning author John Mariani shares his view on Austria’s wine future in this article for the Huffington Post. Not only does he find the wines from Burgenland to be the most exciting, he is also enamored by one of the producers we work with in the region, Juris. I was, however, most impressed by the Austrian red wines I tasted, for I’d never had much interest in them before and very little at all with those from Burgenland. I had a splendid wine named Juris (George) from Gols, made from the often finicky St. Laurent grape, related to Pinot Noir, but with more body and concentration. Continue reading the article and then browse Juris wines.

Emerging Wine Regions: Georgia

  With one of the oldest wine making traditions in the world, Georgia is believed by many to be the birthplace of wine making. DNA evidence has shown that wine was made in the region at least 7,000 years ago! The Middle Ages was a golden period for winemaking in Georgia. As in Burgundy, local monks and farmers studied the terroir and plant the best grapes in the best areas. Read the rest of the article by Bottlenotes to find out why Georgian wines are “on the tip of every hip somm’s tongue”. Try the recommended Pheasant’s Tears wines.

The Captain of Krk and an Island Hvar Hvar Away…

Partly because it’s already hitting 80 degrees in my adopted hometown of Sacramento, and partly because I miss Croatia, I’d like to highlight two island wines this month. Island wine regions, whether they be Italian, Spanish, Greek, French, or Kiwi, are all fiercely independent with their respective language, food and wine. Croatia is no different and the Island of Krk and the Island of Hvar both possess something unique from the mainland. At the risk of both a Star Trek and Star Wars pun, these are both serious wines with great stories, made by wonderful people, and from impossibly beautiful places. 2013 Šipun Žlahtina, Island of Krk, Croatia… Crossing the bridge to the Island of Krk, one might be surprised by all the advertisements; some for a local casino, some for other types of seemingly out of place entertainment venues. Sadly this is the direction most of the inhabitants of the island are heading to generate income. The idea of producing a physical product, be it wine, olive oil, or other goods is being left behind for the easier income of renting out apartments. There is however, one man who is not only sustaining himself and his family with winemaking, … Continue reading The Captain of Krk and an Island Hvar Hvar Away…

Wine Portraits: Gogi Dakishvili of Schuchmann Wines Georgia

If you have tasted more than a few Georgian wines, chances are at least one of them was made under the watchful eyes of Gogi Dakishvili. He has made wine for one of the largest Georgian producers, Teliani Valley, and one of the smallest, Vinoterra, which is now part of the Schuchmann Wines Georgia family. He has been working as a chief wine-maker in “Schuchmann Wines Georgia” since its establishment in 2008 where he carefully and cautiously put his great experience accumulated from travel and knowledge gained from approaching world wine traditions into practice. Read more of Keto Ninidze’ written “portrait” here. Browse all our Georgian wines, including those made by Gogi here.

Hungarian Wine Tasting Review by Christine Havens

Recently Frank Dietrich led an in depth tasting of Hungarian wines at Soif wine bar in Santa Cruz, CA. The wines represented many of the major appellations and indigenous grapes of the regions. Wine writer Christine Havens attended this event and has graciously permitted us to share her blog post, in which she provides detailed notes of the wines tasted as well as a little of her own connection to Hungary. You can view the original post, and all of Christine’s other reviews on her site. Hungarian Wine Tasting at Soif Wine Bar & Merchants by Christine Havens. My mother is Hungarian. My father was mostly English with some other nationalities thrown in, like most Americans, his family tree included a pinch of German and a nip of Irish. My dad never talked about his heritage, but my mother has always been fiercely proud of her ancestry. I suppose that’s why I’ve always identified as Hungarian, the country with some of the world’s most beautiful women and a famously high rate of depression, pessimism and overall gloominess. After my grandparents had passed, photos of my great grandparents emerged from dusty albums stored and long forgotten in their basement. My predecessors … Continue reading Hungarian Wine Tasting Review by Christine Havens

Revenge of the Wine Spritzer

While you may not be able to recall the last time you encountered a wine spritzer, the beverage is quite popular in many countries. In fact throughout most of Eastern Europe you will find that adding a touch of sparkling water to wine is just as common as drinking wine on its own. Why? First off, wine plays a different role in Eastern European cultures than it does in the West. On this difference Stetson Robbins of Blue Danube Wines says “they view wine as less precious. It’s just part of the table, like bread. I think in Central and Eastern Europe this quality is even stronger.” Well, there you have it. Read the rest of this article by Wine Awesomeness here. In Slovenia, a popular wine for a spritzer is Črnko Jareninčan which will be back in stock soon. Or try the article’s suggestion and add a little spritz to Georgian Saperavi. This fresh style by Schuchmann will do the trick.