When I first started selling wines from Croatia and Slovenia nearly four years ago, the myriad of Italian restaurants almost mocked me as I rolled my bag down the streets of New York City. Very often their food and quality of service were just begging to be married with the flavors and level sophistication of the bottles I had on hand. Yet, to get the Sommelier to even consider tasting was nearly impossible. “Sorry, Italian only wine list, no exceptions.” It’s not as if I was trying to pawn some New York State Riesling or Merlot onto their focused and curated list, these were wines that had an equally long tradition in the same regions as everything on their menu and these were the flavors that were meant for their food. Italy, perhaps more than any other country, embodies a strong sense of regional pride. All 20 regions have held fast to their gastronomic cultures, preserving their distinct styles of wine and food. Over the centuries the regions formed their unique cuisines based on what was available in their land. This is why ingredients like truffles are hallmarks of Piedmonte while a dish like veal Marsala is unmistakably Sicilian. It’s … Continue reading Beyond Italian Borders : Wines Of Croatia & Slovenia
I’ve always let my taste guide my interest in the world of wine. The flavors that resonate with me most often lead me to esoteric, or at least non-mainstream, regions and styles. One country I cannot get enough of is Hungary. The diversity of flavors and styles offered by traditional varieties and regions is impressive in its own right, but it is the quality and purity of unique flavor that draws me in deeper. One of my great interests in Hungarian wine are those of Tokaj. This historically lauded and anciently renowned region produces exceptional wines, both dry and sweet, through traditional techniques and with indigenous varieties. These are the same characteristics of top regions worldwide, and Tokaj is on the fast track to reclaiming its place among them. One thing I love is that you can find wines that are best by the glass and for everyday drinking, as well as a premium wines, at times the most expensive on the list, and worth every sip. The selection at the recent Blue Danube Wine Co. industry tasting at Terroir Tribeca showcased a commitment to a comprehensive sampling of the region’s best. There were wines from 7 different producers, not … Continue reading The Many Flavors of Tokaj
Brooklyn, New York’s biggest borough, is home to an ever-growing population of thirsty people. Young and old, all races, everyone is thirsty not only for good wine, but new food and wine experiences. Michael Brooks of Bed Vyne, Bed Stuy’s new boutique and community wine store, is well aware of this. Once a month he puts on an event to celebrate food, wine and art. The two event spaces adjacent to the small store are transformed into a gallery featuring a local artist (check out Juan Carlos Pinto‘s mixed media metro card portraits) along with tables of food from local restaurants and wine from the distributors that supply the store. For $5 attendees get a go-vino cup and are let loose in the maze of delicious flavors. Now that’s the way to do an in-store tasting! This past week I poured two of our Hungarian stars, Patricius Dry Furmint and Torley Fortuna. A bit nervous to be the only one pouring wines no one had heard of in a neighborhood that just recently opened their first wine store, my table turned out to be the hit of the party! The slight richness and creamy finish of the Furmint matched perfectly … Continue reading Hungary Comes To Bed Stuy
It’s only in the last few decades that the infamous sweet wines of Tokaji have fallen off of mainstream restaurant lists and the common-knowledge radar of average wine drinkers. Changes in the political climate of Eastern Europe are the main cause of this absence of Tokaji in the mainstream wine world. With the new generation of drinkers, the millenials, we are seeing a resurgence of appreciation for this ancient region. The enthusiasm goes beyond the famous sweet wines and explores all of the styles these aromatic wines come in. A few weeks ago Rienne Martinez of Terroir Murray Hill and I decided to share our love of Tokaji wines with New York. We developed a pairing menu that showcased the dry and sweet wines of Patricius, letting the flavors explain why these wines have been so prized throughout history. The crowd favorite was overwhelmingly the 3 puttunyos with duck confit salad. Check out the beautiful video below, produced by David DuPuy, to get a glimpse into this special event, first of many!
Sommelier Jeff Berlin from À Côté (Oakland) in Tokaj. Tokaji Aszu, certainly the most famous wine from Hungary, may even be the most famous sweet wine of the world. Still, for all its fame, it is often passed over both on restaurant menus and store shelves. But why? Those of us who have experienced the beauty and joys of drinking Tokaji cannot comprehend such behavior among fellow wine lovers. After a few months of tasting with industry insiders and the general public, I have come to realize that people are afraid. Restaurant owners are afraid to put it on the list because they don’t think anyone will order it. At stores, patrons are afraid to take a bottle home because they don’t know if their guests will like it. This fear afflicts even those purchasers who love the wine and recognize its value. It’s no shocker that the king of wine and wine of kings has earned a reputation for being a bit pricey, and admittedly, the prices can climb to the upper end of the scale. Even when it’s a great value, expensive price tags are not in fashion. The American stigma against sweet wines, a rapidly changing dogma, … Continue reading Time For Tokaji
The Donkey Plavac & Milos Plavac: two typical Dalmatian wines. Like many people present at last week’s Croatian wine festivities, I was unfamiliar with Croatian culture. Sure I’ve eaten cevapcici and even made ajvar recently, but I do not come from there, nor does my family, and before Croatian wine entered my life I knew only one Croatian, philosopher Daniel Kolak. I was excited for the first ever Grand Croatian tasting, having tasted a handful of their local wines, and being particularly intrigued by a former vintage of Dingac Winery’s Peljesac, or ‘The Donkey Wine’ in some circles. I knew that the variety had alluring aromas of flowers and herbs, an elegant translucence, and beguiling sense of fruit. Still I was not prepared for the diversity and terroir-specificity this grape offers. The Big 3 Plavac. The grape most commonly linked with Plavac Mali is Zinfandel, which originates in Croatia and is a relative of Plavac. I typically describe the wines as exhibiting the deep, dark fruited spiciness of Zinfandel, with the old-world body of Gamay. The grapes and wines are surely related, though each with a very distinct personality. Between the Hudson Terrace grand tasting and consumer event put on … Continue reading PLAVAC MALI: An Outsiders Wine From An Outsiders Perspective