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
For Food & Wine‘s executive editor Ray Isle, Georgia is “The Oldest Newest Wine Region in the World.” “Tasting traditionally made wine in Georgia,” he writes, “is like taking a trip back through those eight millennia.” But things have changed significantly since the Soviet era and many traditional winemakers are now bottling and selling their wines in Tbilisi and abroad. That’s the case of the Shavnabada Monastery just outside Tbilisi where the monks have restored the old wine cellar and are now making and exporting Rkatsiteli, Mtsvane and Saperavi in the traditional qvevri style. We’re in the cellar at Shavnabada, a Georgian Orthodox monastery originally built in the 12th century and rebuilt in the 17th, shut down again in the Soviet era and reopened after that. Eleven monks live and work here. All around the stone building the boxwoods are in bloom, and the air is filled with their scent. Brother Markus’ cell phone rings—the ringtone is the brrring, brrring of an old-fashioned rotary phone. He glances at it and puts it back in the pocket of his robe. As to why they started making wine again, he says, “Georgia is a country of hospitality. When someone comes to your … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #157: Shavnabada Saperavi
“When it comes to Hungarian wines, Tokaji immediately comes to your mind, but what about reds?” asks wine lover Dmitry over at russian_in_wine. Both Eger and Szekszárd can legally make Bikavér (Bulls Blood), Hungary’s traditional full-bodied red wine, a Kékfrankos based blend that is rich, spicy and fruity. But what sets Heimann’s Szekszárdi Bikaver apart is the addition of the tannic Sagrantino, a red grape indigenous to the region of Umbria in Italy: Bikavér (bool’s blood) is a full bodied red blend produced in the northern part of the country in Eger (Egri Bikavér) and in its southern part in Szekszárd (Szekszárdi Bikavér). It’s 300 km between these 2 regions, so as you might expect climatic differences are notable. Talking about grape varieties it makes sense to mention that a lot of international and local varieties are allowed in the blend. Blaufränkisch (locally named Kékfrankos) usually forms a foundation of the blend and adds tannin and spiciness to the wine. Kadarka (also known as Gamza) requires careful yield control, with the right viticultural approaches it adds concentration and softness to the blend. International varieties in the blend might be represented by Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and some others. … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #157: Heimann Bikaver
“Bükk benefits from a merry band of winemaking talent” writes Budapest resident and wine writer Robert Smyth. “Discovering relatively unknown wine regions,” he adds, “is one of the great joys of being into wine.” The region sits silently, and all but forgotten, between the really rather famous, not to say legendary regions of Eger (to the west) and Tokaj (to the east), and was previously known in professional circles as a region to overlook, to put it mildly, for its paint-stripping, acidic excuses for wines. However, a number of boutique producers are now turning out some rather fine and subtle stuff, which often strikes a balance between vibrant aromas, ripeness of fruit and zesty (but not bitingly sharp) acidity. Bükk, with its broad range of soils and nicely positioned vineyards that gain ideal exposure to the sun for ripening, is, therefore, something of a hidden treasure, especially when the winemakers treat the terroir with respect. Gallay is one of Bükk’s hidden treasures. Father and son József and Roland Borbély farm 11 hectares of vineyards in a sustainable way and are working hard to revive the region with wines from the local white grape Zenit and red grape Zweigelt that highlight … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #156: Gallay Zweigelt
“We’re on at least the third wave of orange wine,” thinks wine writer Jon Bonné in his article, The Insider’s Guide to Orange Wine, where he reviews the essential producers, wines, and vinification methods for this particular wine style. Orange wines, also called amber wines, are made from white grapes that ferment on their skins for a period of time. The result is a densely textured, amber-to-orange colored wine. This unique winemaking style was traditionally used in Georgia, Northern Italy and Slovenia and has recently seen growing popularity among wine lovers. Orange wines are now made throughout Europe and in the new world as well including California, Oregon, Australia, and Chile. One of the essential wines isted by Jon Bonné is the Gotsa Family Wines Chinuri, an amber-colored wine from Georgia, fermented on its skin in a clay vessel called qvevri: Gotsa Asureti Valley Chinuri: Beka Gotsadze’s winery is high in the hills outside Tblisi, and his wines—all aged in qvevri—are a very good reference point for Georgian wine, even if they aren’t wholly traditional. Chinuri is a relatively common white variety in the region, and there’s a creamy side to the ripe apple and persimmon flavors. If you’re curious … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #155: Gotsa Family Wines Chinuri
The meals that we eat during the week are usually quick and easy to prepare. It’s also the time when we would like to drink something good but reasonably priced and not too complicated. These are the “weeknight wines” that Eric Asimov describes in his latest column 20 Wines Under $20: When Any Night Can Be a Weeknight. Weeknight wines may not require your complete attention but they still need to be interesting and full of character. Fortunately for us, there are many distinctive and inspiring wines from all around the world that are moderately priced because they come from lesser-known wine regions or grape varieties. Among the great weeknight wines that Eric Asimov recommends is one of our favorites, the Bibich R6 Riserva 2016: The phrase “Mediterranean wines” rarely conjures up Croatia, but the country has a gorgeous coastline along the Adriatic Sea, made notable by the beautiful cities of Split and Dubrovnik. Alen Bibic of Bibich makes wine in the region of Skradin north of Split, focusing on indigenous grapes, like this blend of babic, plavina and lasin. It’s deliciously spicy, with just a touch of oak. We have a great selection of delicious and distinctive weeknight wines … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #154: BIBICh R6 Riserva
“How could we not offer this wine,” asks David Lynch, Sommelier & Editorial Director at SommSelect. “Tasting this 2015 Vranac, I’m reminded of some of the brisk and deeply hued reds of Italy/Slovenia’s Carso/Kras region, and of Austrian Blaufränkisch as well. Aged for two years in those ancient wood barrels, the 2015 Tvrdoš Vranac is a nearly opaque ruby-black in the glass, with garnet reflections. The nose is powerful and perfumed, leading with notes of crushed blackberry, cranberry, wet rose petals, dark chocolate, cedar, and exotic spice notes galore. It is deep, rich, and tangy up front then buttons up into something tangy and refreshing, with lots of floral notes on the finish. It benefits from 30+ minutes in a decanter before service, as well as a cooler temperature (60 degrees) to accentuate its fruit character and moderate its acidity. Characteristic of the 2015 vintage all over Europe, this is plenty ripe and accessible now, and is most definitely a “food wine” as opposed to a “cocktail wine.” I’d say go whole hog and do an ultra-authentic “Bosnian Pot” (Bosanski Lonac) to go with it. The melding of flavors will not only be classic but spot-on. “I’ve said it many … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #153: Monastery Tvrdoš Vranac
More than 500 varieties of native grapes. A multi-millennia-old winemaking tradition in clay vessel or qvevri. In fact, Georgia have been making wines almost forever. Then around 320 AD, Saint Nino of Cappadocia arrived in Georgia with a cross made of a vine and wine became a symbol of Christianity. Thereafter, wines has been playing a vital role in the celebration of religious events and rituals and is now an integral part of Georgia’s cultural identity and heritage. Over the summer, we received a new shipment of Georgian wines and what’s exciting about these new wines is that they epitomize the diversity of the Georgian production: Rkatsiteli, Mtsvane, Kisi, Saperavi from Kakheti in the East, Tsitska and Krakhuna from Imereti in the West, Chinuri from Kartli in the Center, and a Alexandria/Mudzhuretuli blend from Racha in the North. Rkatsiteli is to Georgia what Chardonnay is to California. It’s the “King of Kakheti” as Aleksi Tsikhilishvili explained to us when we visited his cellar last May. It’s Georgia’s most widely planted and most popular white grape variety. It has great structure and spiciness and becomes creamy, nutty and tannic when aged in qvevri. We just received an organic qvevri-aged Rkatsiteli from … Continue reading Georgian Wines are Exciting!
“I feel pretty sure that blaufränkisch is pinot noir’s sexy older brother,” writes The Wine Bible author Karen MacNeil for her website WineSpeed. So can a wine exemplify the characteristics of the grape better than the racy and velvety Muhr-van der Niepoort Spitzerberg 2013? Maybe there’s no actual evidence, but I feel pretty sure that blaufränkisch (BLOUGH-frank-ish) is pinot noir’s sexy older brother—the one who rode Harleys and hung out with Hemingway (or did whatever the equivalent was two thousand years ago). This blaufränkisch from the single vineyard Spitzerberg is certainly like that—a peppery, fruity red that’s racy and dark at the same time. Blaufränkisch, Austria’s leading red, has the wonderful ability to be simultaneously velvety and structured. If I could stop what I’m doing and cook up some duck breasts with cherry sauce, I would. (13% abv) 92 points KM If you haven’t try Blaufränkisch yet, or if you’re like me and love the raciness of the grape, or if you’re ready to cook some duck breasts, here is our selection of Blaufränkisch wines from Muhr-van der Niepoort and several other top Austrian producers on our webshop. And don’t forget the cherry sauce!
Oszkar Maurer’s winery is located in the Subotica (or Szabadka in Hungarian) wine region in Serbia, just south of the Hungarian-Serbian border. This is where he traditionally and organically farms 6 acres planted to native grape varieties such as Szerémi zöld, Bakator, Mézes fehér, Kövidinka, and Kadarka. Many of these grapes are more than a hundred years old. The Szerémi zöld and Bakator were planted in 1909, the Kövidinka in 1925, and the oldest Kadarka was planted in 1880, which makes it the oldest Kadarka in the world. The Kövidinka grapes are sourced from a low-yielding 93-year-old vineyard, manually tended and still plowed with horses. The wine was spontaneously fermented with native yeast and made with low sulphur. Also low in alcohol (10.2%), it is light, dry, and crisp, with distinctive stony flavors, a creamy mouthfeel, and a fresh finish. It’s a lovely wine, perfect for the last warm weather nights of the season. Sip it with appetizers, a fresh salad or a cheese platter. You can get it here.