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.
“In Leningrad, back in 1990,” writes Wine & Spirits Executive Editor Tara Q. Thomas, “the Georgian bars were the place to be.” Nowadays, bars are everywhere in Tbilisi, the country’s capital, and the wines you have in your glasses “are anything but thick, semisweet reds. They come in all shades, from pale and fizzy to dark amber to bright red. They include such a panoply of grape varieties that keeping track of them makes my head swim. After 69 years of Soviet rule, the new reality, when it comes to winemaking, is that there are no rules.” There’re indeed no rules for the Wine Thieves, a negociant company founded by three friends Avto Kobakhidze, Givi Apakidze and Zaza Asatiani except get “The finest Georgian wine ‘stolen’ for you.”. The three friends bottle and sell the wines of small family wineries with no resource to market their own production themselves. Tara Q. Thomas gave 92 points to Wine Thieves’ amber-colored qvevri-aged Rkatsiteli: 92 Points. Avto Kobakhidze and Givi Apakidze worked with a grower in the village of Kachreti for this rkatsiteli, fermented and aged in qvevri with skins, and stems for about six months. Marigold-yellow, it’s a meaty, earthy wine with … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #163: Wine Thieves Rkatsiteli
The 200th anniversary of “Silent Night” is the perfect occasion to taste Austria’s sweet wines writes author Anne Krebiehl MW for the Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Trockenbeerenauslese, also called TBA, (meaning literally “dried berries selection”) is Austria’s richest, sweetest wine and is made from individually selected botrytis-infected berries. Rosenhof’s Chardonnay TBA is one of Krebiehl’s recommendations: A smokiness lies thickly above the apple fruit notes of this heady TBA, glossing everything with a darker, brooding presence. That same smoky darkness hovers on the palate, but here the spiky, bright spur of lemon freshness breaks through triumphantly, lending drive and precision to the apricot and Mirabelle plum fruit that spreads its lusciousness across the tongue. This is rich, concentrated, intense and beautifully unusual. For a perfect Austrian Christmassy experience, Anne Krebiehl suggests having a glass of Trockenbeerenauslese with Vanillekipferl, crescent-shaped buttery Christmas cookies with a nutty, almond flavor. Silent Night playing in the background of course.
Blogger and wine educator Matthew Gaughan likes to write about the different wine regions and grape varieties of the world. “What an extraordinary wine this is,” he recently posted on Instagram while tasting Béla Fekete’s Hárslevelű 2013. Béla Fekete aka Béla Bácsi (Uncle Béla) is almost 94 years old and 2013 was the last vintage he made from start to finish. So you can imagine how special that bottle is! https://www.instagram.com/p/BqqP2Q9HLlt/ Follow Matthew Gaughan on Instagram and find Uncle Béla’s last vintages here.
Blue Danube California Sales and Hungarian Portfolio Manager Eric Danch discusses the state of the California market, the appeal indigenous grapes, and advice for Hungarian wineries with hungarianwines.eu. How about the beginning? How did you become a wine expert? The beginning is a combination of living abroad for a few years (Copenhagen and Rome) and then spending 6 years working for a 3-hour European cabaret meets Vaudevillian circus called Teatro Zinanni in San Francisco. We always had dinner and wine after the show and the wine always tasted better with a good story. After working a few harvests in California as I mentioned earlier, I was very lucky to be introduced to Blue Danube Wine Co. All of these experiences share a synergy of different cultures, storytelling and personalities adding context to delicious food and wine. Hungary in particular has these qualities in spades. We are a website to promote Hungarian wines, and of course we are the most curious about the acceptance of our wines in the USA. What are your experiences? Do your customers look for indigenous varieties? Indigenous grapes have been the focus of Blue Danube from the very beginning. While Hungary can of course produce lovely … Continue reading An Interview With Sales Manager Eric Danch
“We wine geeks get our kicks from scarce grapes of which tiny amounts are grown, but sometimes so excited are we that we forget to consider whether the grape in question is any good or not,“ writes Budapest-based wine journalist Robert Smyth in the Budapest Business Journal after attending a wine tasting event held at the Hungarian National Museum. But some indigenous grape varieties are truly exciting: Imre Szakacs-Orha, an ethnic Hungarian himself, held an exciting masterclass on the Fetească Neagră grape, known in Hungary as Fekete Leányka, but it’s difficult to find. He showed a broad selection of wines made exclusively from the grape, coming from far and wide across Romania. This ancient variety is thought to originate from around the village of Uricani in the Prut River valley in Iasi county, in the historical region of Moldavia. One of the most exciting offerings, for my money, came from an ethnic Magyar – Géza Balla, with his Sziklabor 2015. It was elegant and smooth but also deep, spicy and earthy with delicious black fruit. I recall visiting the winery, which is located in the Minis (Ménes in Hungarian) wine region, near Arad, not far from the Hungarian border, when … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #160: Balla Géza Fetească Neagră
Charine Tan and Dr Matthew Horkey over at exoticwinetravel like to share their favorite food and wine pairings. For sure, you don’t always need a fancy dish to enjoy a delicious wine. Simple ingredients like fresh pasta and veggies cooked with pungent olive oil and spices can just be perfect: Today’s lunch is a quick fix (so no fancy plating) of fresh #tagliatelle in tomato & leek sauce and a load of bird’s eye chili flakes. Top that off with a generous amount of some piquant and slightly green olive oil. The @vinobrkic fresh #Žilavka is one of the best wines I’ve found for pairing with a spicy, sweet, and sour sauce. The wine offers freshness that calms the heat in the mouth and enough fruit power and floral notes to cut through the intense sauce. The acidity of both are balanced and leaves no bitterness behind. The creaminess from the wine follows through to the end. Grown on the sun baked limestone plateaus of the Citluk wine district in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the fragrant Brkić Žilavka is full of distinctive Mediterranean flavors and summer fruit aromas, a pleasure to drink indeed! Follow Charine and Matthew’s exotic wine adventures, their … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #159: Brkić Žilavka
A few weeks ago, journalist Chris Wilson attended his first wine tasting brunch: ten Hungarian-inspired small plates and ten different Hungarian wines, hosted by the Hungarian Embassy in London. Impressed by the breadth of styles and flavors of the wines, this was for him a revelation. Also organizing the tasting was British wine writer Oz Clarke, an Hungarian food and wine enthusiast who sees a bright future for Hungarian wine around the world. Among his top 10 Hungarian wines that he recommends, here is the Kolonics Juhfark: Once we’d got over the similarity of the producer’s name Kolonics to the word ‘colonic’ and stopped sniggering into our shirtsleeves here was a wine that was rich and full with concentrated tropical and stone fruit characters and a chewy, Burgundian texture. Made from the Juhfark grape – which means ‘sheep’s tail’ due to the long, cylindrical shape of its bunches – this hails from Somló where 80% of the world’s Juhfark is planted. Károly Kolonics (pronounced Kolo-nitsch) is one of our newest producers from Hungary. He is a 4th generation winemaker whose grandparents were born and raised in Somló. His labels show photos of his great-grandparents from the late 1800s. Today, Károly … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #158: Kolonics Juhfark