The Bott Frigyes Kékfrankos is not the first wine from the Kékfrankos grape that SommSelect Sommelier David Lynch has offered but “this version from southern Slovakia,” he writes, “is one of the most elegant and perfumed expressions of the variety we’ve ever come across.” Although the Kékfrankos grape is familiar—more so if you use its Austrian name, Blaufränkisch—the Južnoslovenská growing zone, home of Bott Frigyes, is not. Running up to the southern border of Slovakia, following a stretch of the Danube River just before it turns south towards Budapest, the Južnoslovenská (“southern Slovak”) region is well-represented by this Bott Frigyes red. Had we tasted it blind, I might have guessed top-level Oregon Pinot or maybe Cru Beaujolais from Morgon, but as it was we broke out our wine maps and hunted down Južnoslovenská in a fit of inspiration. It makes me wonder what other revelations we might be missing in this wide world of wine. If you try one bottle outside your comfort zone this year, let this be it. It is that good! Follow the Hungarian connection and David’s recommendation: it’s a wine to enjoy this season with a comforting and saucy Chicken Paprikash. And read David’s article here.
Last month, Wine & Spirits Magazine published its “Year’s Best Hungarian Wines” comprised of 16 wines rated exceptional (90+ points) by Executive Editor Tara Q. Thomas and her tasting panel. Here is what she says about the Kikelet Lonyai Hárslevelű: 90 points. French vintner Stéphanie Berecz worked at Disznókó before marrying a Hungarian and starting to produce wines from his family’s vineyards in 2002. Hárslevelu has become one of her specialties, as this wine shows: From a vineyard rich in loess, in Tarcal, it’s silky and broad, with a linden-leaf fragrance. The acidity feels a little edgy, highlighting some of the bitterness of the phenolics, which gives the wine the cut to match a fatty fish, like halibut. Lónyai vineyard lies within the commune of Tarcal in Tokaj where Stéphanie Berecz and her husband Zsolt live. Its soil, made of deep loess mixed with volcanic rocks, brings a bright acidity and aromatics to the wine. It’s a very distinctive Hárslevelű built to age. Find it on our webshop and try it with a Paprika Fisherman’s Stew.
The Geyerhof Grüner Veltliner Rosensteig is one of my favorite winter wines, crisp, spicy, zippy and delicious with Dungeness crabs and fresh oysters. It was also one of the top wine picks of Canadian wine writer and sommelier Bill Zacharkiw last week: Organic. Great gruner! Walks the line nicely between a fresher, apero-style white filled with lemony zip, and a riper gruner with notes of camomile and spice on the finish. Lots going on here so let it warm a touch to benefit from the unique aromatics. Grape variety: Gruner veltliner. Residual sugar: 2.5 g/l. Serve at: 8-12 C. Drink now-2023. Food pairing idea: aperitif, white fish with herbs and lemon butter. The wine is sourced from organic vineyards made of loess and alluvial soil near the Danube River in Kremstal, Austria. It’s complex without being too heavy. Try it now.