Here is Colm FitzGerald’s, editor of The Paprika Project, visit to Füleky in Tokaj, Hungary; sure to make you want to go and try these fine wines! The steady putt of the riverboat’s engine put me at ease. It was my first time navigating a boat that didn’t have an outboard engine and I was nervous—all alone with the small craft’s wheel in my hands. I was in north-east Hungary, cruising along the Bodrog River in the famous Tokaj wine region. On the top deck, the other passengers—my wife Anita, the captain, his wife and Hajnalka Szabo and György Brezovcsik from the Füleky Winery—soaked up the early summer sun. The captain, a fit tanned man in his 60’s, handed over the wheel moments earlier. Soon, I was completely at ease captaining the boat. Thick cottonwood trees lined either side of the slow moving brown-green river, cool air blew into the open cabin and an egret swooped across the water ahead. Aside from the occasional pair of rowers sliding past in their sculls, we were all alone. Serene, beautiful and meditative—it was the perfect way to spend a June afternoon. Before our river cruise, Hajnalka and György (we’ll call him Gyuri … Continue reading Tokaj Perfection: Sampling Füleky Estate’s Liquid Gold
It is nice to see Bagrationi getting some much deserved attention in this article by Ellen Bhang for The Boston Globe. The charmat method is also used at Bagrationi, based in Tbilisi, in the Republic of Georgia. The company, a leading producer of bubbly in the former Soviet country, is named for a prince who established the sparkling wine house in 1882. Winemakers craft native grapes like chinebuli (also known as chinuri), mtsvane, and tsitska into a frothy sparkler offering appetizing scents of apples and a touch of yeastiness. Read the whole article here. Try Bagrationi 1882 “Classic” Brut for yourself!
We caught up with our friend, and New York based sommelier, Cliff Rames, recently to share his thoughts on Croatian wine with you. Cliff also writes the popular blog, Wines of Croatia, which we encourage you to follow! 1. What makes you so passionate about Croatian wine? Well first, my father is from Croatia, so it’s in my blood I guess. When I was 16 years old my dad asked me if I wanted to go visit his birthplace, a small island called Murter off the Dalmatian coast. I said yes, and it forever changed my life. There I learned to drink Turkish coffee and “bevanda” – a mixture of red wine (usually homemade) and water. That kicked off my fascination with the local wine customs and traditions. It was then I also first heard of a mythological place called Dingač, the place from which (I was told by relatives) Croatia’s greatest wine came. I also began to hear words like Plavina, Debit, Babić, Plavac Mali, Pošip – the names of local grape varieties used to make wine. The more I heard and learned, the more I wanted to know! After that, back in the U.S., I found myself searching … Continue reading Interview with Cliff Rames, founder of “Wines of Croatia”
“The Paprika Project” is American Colm FitzGeralds’ blog about his experiences as an expat living in Hungary. We had the pleasure of meeting him recently and think you will enjoy his unique perspectives on Hungarian culture, including wine of course! The blog is also very helpful if you are planning to travel throughout Hungary. Allow Colm to introduce himself and learn more about “The Paprika Project”: I vividly remember my first trip to Hungary. It was 2005; I was living in Ireland at the time and my Hungarian girlfriend had invited me to meet her family. Knowing next to nothing about this central European country, I was instantly captivated. Culturally, linguistically and historically—everything was waiting to be discovered. I remember lying in her parents’ garden— cool grass beneath me, warm sun on my face and chest. After 6 months in Ireland, sunny weather was a blessing in itself. It was springtime and flowers of every color adorned the green, hilly landscape. During those ten days in Hungary I discovered a whole new world: the unique Magyar people and language; a tumultuous history of invasions, occupations and uprisings; a food culture bordering on obsession; and an intimacy with the land and … Continue reading Get to know “The Paprika Project”
We are excited to introduce three new Slovenian “Pét-Nat’s” from Štoka. But what is “Pét-Nat” you may ask? In essence, it is an old method for producing gently sparkling wines that has become popular again. This article written by Zachary Sussman for Punch really describes the process and how it originated. As a form of fermentation, the technique pre-dates the so-called Champagne method by a couple centuries, at least in those areas of France—like Gaillac, Limoux and Bugey—where it has historically been practiced. Unlike the Champagne method, which enacts a secondary fermentation by adding sugar and yeast, the ancestral method allows the initial fermentation to finish in bottle without any additives, imparting a gentle carbonation by trapping carbon dioxide. Read the rest of the article here. Try the new Pét-Nat’s, or Peneče in Slovenian: Štoka Bela (Vitovska) Peneče 2014 Štoka Rosé Peneče 2014 Štoka Teranova Peneče 2014
Vivino user Darko Vozab has put together this helpful, and thorough, guide to Croatia’s wine regions. A perfect introduction to this diverse wine country! Croatia is a must-see European oasis for the wine-minded traveler. Wine production in this land on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea began around 2200 B.C., and today Croatia boasts more than 130 indigenous grape varieties, as well as five different climate zones, resulting in a large number of wine styles. Read the rest of the guide here. Browse our Croatian wines.
Daniella Cheslow reports on the rich winemaking history of Georgia for NPR. Georgia’s winemaking heritage goes back 8,000 years and centers on the qvevri, a cavernous terra-cotta pot shaped like an egg, lined with beeswax and buried to the mouth underground. But these ancient vessels were sidelined by the industrial wine production dictated by seven decades of Soviet rule. Over the past 10 years, however, qvevri wine has slowly recovered. Today, it is a calling card for Georgian wine around the world. Read the rest of the article here. Browse our Georgian wines.
The French word “confrérie” means brotherhood and is used extensively for cultural or religious partnerships between groups of people. The Confrérie has a long history in Tokaj. It was originally set up in 1987 by the state winery, Tokaj Kereskedőház, as La Confrérie “Vinum Regnum, Rex Vinorum”(King of Wines, Wine of Kings) de Tokaj. The members goal was to promote the wines and gastronomy of the Tokaj wine region. Starting in 1999 La Confrérie “Vinum Regnum, Rex Vinorum” de Tokaj was managed by Tokaj Renaissance, a producers’ association, and the twenty Tokaj Renaissance members became members of the Board. Tamás Dusóczky, who has worked internationally to rebuild the image of the Tokaji wine since the fall of Communism, received the majority of votes and thus became Grand Maître. After 15 years of service, Tamás recently stepped down but remains an honorary board member. The most recent reincarnation of this group is the Confrérie de Tokaj (Tokaji Borlovagrend) which was formed in 2012 by 100 founding members, many of whom are winemakers. In addition to reforming the Confrérie and initiation ceremony, members travelled to Burgundy to learn more about famous auction Hospices de Beaune, and organize their own annual wine auction. … Continue reading A Brief Introduction to the Confrérie de Tokaj
Wine writer Lauren Mowery tells you why you need to try wines from Croatia…and elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Start with gorgeous Croatia, a wine-rich culture blessed with a long Adriatic coastline, and continue east, curving around the Black Sea with Moldova, Bulgaria, and Turkey; each country offers indigenous grapes at affordable prices, allowing imbibers to visit far-flung locales, via wine, for less than $20. Read the rest of the article on The Village Voice blog. Try one of the “it” wines recommended by sommelier Cliff Rames, Wines of Croatia: Bibich R6 Riserva
If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you must go visit Bistro SF Grill! It is a cozy, intimate spot in San Francisco’s Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood. Co-owners Gino, Hasim, and Seni make you feel right at home with their slightly Balkan influenced menu and wine list; all three are originally from Bosnia-Herzegovina. We had the pleasure of spending an evening with them this week to celebrate our latest arrival of Croatian wine. The guys put together a flight of 5 wines for guests to choose which included: Bibich Debit, Šipun Žlahtina, Bibich G6 Grenache, Miloš Plavac Mali, and Dubrovački Crljenak Kaštelanski (aka Croatian Zinfandel). It was a fun night of exploration, good conversation, and wine! The experience is not complete without one of their fabulous burgers. I highly recommend the Balkan Burger, which is a lamb patty between pita bread with mint yogurt sauce.