#WineWednesday Spotlight #112: Apátsági Juhfark

“I was intrigued to see Matt Kramer’s article this summer highlighting four wonderful wine regions to visit: Santa Barbara, the Douro Valley, Ribeira Sacra and Tokaj,” explains wine lover and blogger John Brooks in his recent blog post The Charm of Somlo. But on one of these trips, he found the lesser-known and tiny Somló appellation and the vineyards growing on this cone-shaped volcanic mountain: The grapes in the vineyards on the hill at Somló include furmint and harslevelu–as do the vineyards in Tokaj–and olaszrizling, a soft and fruity grape known as welschriesling in Austria (unrelated to the better known riesling). But the signature grape of Somló is juhfark–Hungarian for “sheep’s tail” because the long and tightly clustered bunches which curve at the end bear resemblance to a sheep’s tail. Juhfark, which is only grown in any significant quantity in Somló, is considered something of a transparent grape–it takes on the characteristics of the place it is grown. In Somló, the juhfark grapes get good sun, producing a wine of richness–on a frame of strong minerality with the hints of saltiness that can be found in some volcanic soils. Accompanied by Eva Cartwright, owner of the Somló Wine Shop, he … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #112: Apátsági Juhfark

Great places to drink Blue Danube Wines in San Francisco

There’re so many fine places where you can find Blue Danube wines in San Francisco! In particular, note these three restaurants: they have great reviews in the October issue of Wine & Spirits Magazine and carefully curated wine lists that perfectly match the food in the menu. At August 1 Five, try gol guppa, which are crispy pastries filled with spiced potatoes, with Štoka Teran Rosé: Here, gol guppa crispy pastries filled with spiced potatoes—arrive with a flight of brightly fruit-flavored waters, poured in at table to maintain the crispness and burst of flavor with each bite: biryani is made elegant with long, long grains of rice and perfectly balanced seasonings. Austin Ferrari’s tightly curated wine list is in perfect sync with the food, focused on spicy, earthy wines like Stoka teran rosé and Inconnu Sonoma County cab franc. (Full review here) At Birba, try marinated anchovies with Fekete Furmint: You won’t find the usual suspects here, but rather things like sparkling pineau d’Aunis from the Loire, Béla Fekete’s volcanic whites from Somló in Hungary and six vermouths by the glass to go along with the charcuterie and olives and a soundtrack that veers from Beyoncé to salsa. (Full review … Continue reading Great places to drink Blue Danube Wines in San Francisco

#WineWednesday Spotlight #107: Gallay Bistronauta White

Through his blog The Paprika Project, Irish-born Colm FitzGerald, who now lives in Hungary, likes to share Hungary’s rich culture and natural beauty with the world. He recently met winemaker Roland Borbély at the Gallay Winery: Roland Borbély, the man with the plan! Beautiful morning in sunny Nyékládháza, Hungary with the whole Borbély family. Tucked away in a rural valley near Miskolc, Gallay is producing exceptional wines in an uncompromising style. Roland is championing Pinot Blanc, Zenit, Kékfrankos and Zweigelt grown on the clay and ancient limestone of the Bükk foothills. The results speak for themselves: elegant, balanced and age worthy wines that are unique yet very, very likable. @hunvino @bluedanubewine #gallay #hungary #bükk #wine #miskolc #bluedanubewine #winelover The Bistronauta White is a funny, flying astronaut on a bistro corkscrew. It’s a fruity blend of 60% Pinot blanc and 40% Zenit — a Hungarian crossing of the native Ezerjó and the Slovenian grape Bouvier. Aged in stainless steel and neutral oak barrels, the wine is fresh, very aromatic, and easy going. A great “bistro wine” and very likable indeed! Follow Colm Fitzgerald and the Paprika Project on Instagram .

Harvest report in Tokaj, Hungary: Interview with Samuel Tinon

This year, we decided to interview a few of our winemakers to get their impressions of the 2017 harvest and the overall 2017 vintage. We first reached out to Samuel Tinon on September 17th, just as some rain began to fall. Fortunately, the sparkling base wines and Sárgamuskotály (Yellow Muscat) had already been picked and most of his Furmint was still in early ripening. According to Samuel, “In Tokaj we can have up to 10 book chapters in a 2-month period. In these conditions, it is far too early to talk about vintage. Anything can happen. In a written book, from the first chapter you can get a idea of the book, with Nature not.” By September 21st, the weather had changed. Completely botrytis-free harvest had moved into botytris, or what Samuel would call “Tokaj premier grand cru only.” Sugar levels still good, acid starting to drop, but Aszú berries beginning to take shape. By September 25th, roughly 40 L/m2 of rain had fallen so it was time to harvest all the remaining botrytis-free grapes. All in all, and like all quality wine regions the world over, it’s impossible to have a recipe or a crystal ball. Best to end … Continue reading Harvest report in Tokaj, Hungary: Interview with Samuel Tinon

#WineWednesday Spotlight #106: Bott Csontos Furmint

The historic Csontos vineyard—literally “strong-boned”—is a south-facing vineyard at the foothills of the oak-covered Zemplén mountains, a great protection against the cold northern winds. The soil, primarily tilled by horses, is a mix of clay and volcanic rocks, which provides spicy and mineral flavors to the Furmint grapes that Judit and József Bodó replanted a little more than 10 years ago. Judit Bodó, née Bott, ferments her Csontos Furmint slowly with native yeasts in used barrels. The result is a straw-colored wine that smells like honey, herbs and smoke. It’s mouth-filling and unctuous like an apricot compote, with just a touch of sweetness. You can find it on the menu of the recently opened San Francisco restaurant Parigo, paired with seared foie gras, warm salt and pepper cookies, and huckleberry jam. You can also find it on our webshop. Enjoy!

#WineWednesday Spotlight #105: Patricius Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos

When conditions are just right, nature can hold a usually nasty fungus in such check that something special happens. Instead of destroying a crop, the fungus creates grapes with incredibly concentrated flavor that can make some of the world’s sweetest, most precious wines. The fungus, Botrytis cinerea, is more affectionately known as “noble rot.” writes Anne Krebiehl, MW in the current issue of Wine Enthusiast Magazine. And the Patricius Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos 2006 is one of the best: Patricius 2006 Aszú Six Puttonyos (Tokaj); 95 points. Tantalizing aromas of apricot, bananas foster, beeswax and pineapple upside-down cake transfer seamlessly onto the palate. It then opens up further, with pronounced flavors of lemon meringue and acacia honey. The texture is luxurious, silky and voluptuous. Editors’ Choice. The wine is a sweet golden nectar, made from the best terroirs and only in exceptional vintages. Enjoy it with Foie Gras, Blue Cheese or an Apricot Tart.

The Rise of Blaufränkisch

It seems that in the last few years, Blaufränkisch (German for blue Frankish) has become Austria’s most successful red wine variety. It’s not a new grape: based on its name, we think that it had been growing in Central Europe since the Middle Ages. The name Fränkisch comes from Franconia, a German region praised for its quality wines in the Middle Ages, and so at the time, grapes that were producing superior wines were called Fränkisch. Better rootstock, denser plantings, better cover crops management and nuanced winemaking explain the recent rise in quality with more and more Blaufränkisch wines showing great complexity and finesse. Some producers describe Blaufränkisch using the “triangle” comparison: the grape has the elegance of Burgundy Pinot Noir, the pepperiness of Northern Rhône Syrah, and the structure of Piedmont Nebbiolo. Its home is Burgenland where many of the finest examples are grown. Carnuntum, a region just southeast of Vienna, is also a source of quality Blaufränkisch where they are especially fresh and elegant. Burgenland was part of Hungary until 1921, when most of it was annexed as Austria’s ninth and easternmost state after the dissolution of he Habsburg Empire. The exception was Burgenland’s capital Sopron, which was … Continue reading The Rise of Blaufränkisch

#WineWednesday Spotlight #99: Pfneiszl Zweigler

This week’s #WineWednesday Spotlight is the dazzling Pfneiszl Zweigler thanks to this Instagram post from wine lover Shelley Warkentin: Crushed this tasty Zweigelt over the weekend. Really loving this grape as an alternative to rosé on hot days, especially with a little chill on it.⚡️Also, I want to hang out with the two awesome sisters, Birgit and Katrin, who made this wine. @pfneiszlestate #glouglou #pfneiszlwinery #zweigler #zweigelt #austrianwine #realwine #birgitundkatrin #bluedanubewine Affirmative! The 1 Liter Zweigler from the Pfneisl sisters is just what you need on a hot day. Try also his brother, the spicy 1 Liter Blaufränker. Both are bright, fruity as well as organic. And don’t forget to follow Shelley Warkentin on on Instagram.

#WineWednesday Spotlight #96: Heimann Kadarka

Chilled #kadarka on a hot Friday afternoon? Yes, please. Today’s #WineWednesday Spotlight is a contribution from Orshi Kiss, Blue Danube Wine Co. Southern California Sales Manager. For sure, Kadarka is one of her favorite grapes! Thought to be originally from the Balkans where its still commonly planted – and where it’s also known as Gamza – Kadarka by now thought of in Hungary as one of the traditional red grapes. It is naturally low in tannins and usually a lighter bodied wine, which makes it a perfect, chillable summer red. Some of the best examples come from the region of Szekszárd — enjoy this spicy, elegant yet fun Kadarka from Heimann Winery. Kadarka is a delicate grape variety producing delightful wines and it is great news that planting is slowly increasing in Hungary and neighboring countries. Check that article to learn more about it: Kadarka, Cadarca, Gamza.

#WineWednesday Spotlight #92: J&J Eger Winery Eged Hegy Kékfrankos

Sixty miles west of Tokaj, the Hungarian wine region of Eger is one of Europe’s most northerly red wine appellations. It is famous for its Egri Bikavér, a red blend usually made from Kadarka, Kékfrankos and other international varieties. Kékfrankos thrives on the multifaceted volanic hills that protected the Eger vineyards from the cold north winds. Dr. Janos Stumpf, winemaker at the J&J Eger Winery and one of the “J” in the label, sourced his Eged Hegy Kékfrankos from dry-farmed vines on the Eged Hegy (Eged Hill). The wine is deeply colored and exhibits complex aromas of mint, sweet fruit and moka. On the palate, the wine has an amazing silky mouth-feel, and lots of freshness and balance. Perfect with grilled lamb chops and ratatouille. The other J of the label is Master Sommelier, wine critic and author John Szabo, who recently published Volcanic Wines: Salt, Grit and Power, an informative read on volcanic wines from around the world, including Hungary.