Visit a Winery: Gere in Villány, Hungary

The Region Located in southern Hungary near the Croatian border, Villány is one of Hungary’s top wine regions. About a 1,5 hour drive from Budapest, it has a well-developed tourism infrastructure and is known for its quality red and rosé wines. The region’s warm, sunny climate is ideal for the indigenous red variety Portugieser. “Bordeaux” varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc have also found a home here. The Winery Gere winery may be one of the largest in the region, but careful attention is still paid to every wine. The organically grown grapes are hand-harvested and sorted. The combination of tradition and modern technology give as result fresh, easy drinking wines such as Olaszrizling, Rosé and Portugieser, all the way to rich, full bodied, age-worthy cuvees and single-varietal wines from Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, or even from Tempranillo, Syrah and Pinot Noir. To utilize natural antioxidants, the winery has also its own production of health care products from grapes, such as 100% grape seed oil, and grape seed micro extract. Things to do and see Create a complete experience at Gere Winery including accommodations, gourmet restaurant, and wine tasting! Crocus Gere Wine Hotel is Villány’s 1st … Continue reading Visit a Winery: Gere in Villány, Hungary

12 Exciting Wine Regions You’ve Never Heard Of

Wine Enthusiast Magazine has a new article called 12 Exciting Wine Regions You’ve Never Heard Of. We import wines from 4 of them: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, and Slovenia. We think they should have mentioned Georgia, too! On Slovenia: “Nestled within the crossroads of the Alps and the Mediterranean, Slovenia produces some of the most exciting wines in Central Europe. Since the fall of communism, much of Slovenia’s wine production has returned to small, family-owned operations, where individualism and experimentation have taken center stage. —Anna Lee Iijima, ratings by Jeff Jenssen” Batič 2007 Valentino Sweet Red Merlot-Cabernet Franc (Vipavska Dolina); $60/375 ml, 90 points. Kabaj 2008 Cuvée Morel Red (Goriska Brda); $46, 90 points. Sanctum 2011 Chardonnay (Štajerska); $17, 90 points. Štoka 2011 Izbrani Teran (Kras); $23, 90 points. On Hungary: “With 160,000 acres dedicated to vineyards, white wine accounts for 70% of Hungary’s total production. Beloved by Thomas Jefferson and Russian czars alike, the country’s strikingly floral, lusciously fruity wines are traditionally a blend of Tokaji grapes: Furmint, Hárslevelű and varieties of Muscat. Not unlike other botrytis-affected wines like Sauternes, Tokaji is one of the wine world’s best-kept secrets, boasting the ability to age for decades. —Anna Lee Iijima, ratings … Continue reading 12 Exciting Wine Regions You’ve Never Heard Of

Fekete Bela Somló Juhfark ’11 by James the Wine Guy

James the Wine Guy continues his tasting exploration of Hungary’s volcanic appellation of Somló with this review of Fekete Béla’s distinct Juhfark: This wine variety is completely new, beautiful, gorgeous yet distinctive, knowing this wine as a indigenous grape variety from Hungary, the only place you can find it in the world and very few acres, under 200 acres from what I understand. [] What I like about these Juhfark variety wines is that they are really nuanced, there’s significant minerality to these wines and yet very approachable. So what I like about this wine is its distinctive mineral statement, fantastically beautiful, confident, and something that I think is so original and memorable. Watch the video:

Visit a Winery: Füleky in Tokaj

The Region Tokaj, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has been long renowned for its intoxicating sweet wines. It is located at the foothills of the Zemplén Mountains, at the confluence of the Bodrog and Tisza Rivers. The rivers provide the right mix of moisture to infect the ripe grapes with Noble Rot, a type of fungus responsible for concentrating all the sugars in the grape. The most popular grape grown in the region is the native Furmint, which is enjoying a renaissance as a quality dry wine, something not seen very often just 10 years ago. There are several other widely planted indigenous white varieties in the region such as Hárslevelű and Kövérszőlő. The Winery The history of the estate dates back to György Füleky who was the founder of the First Tokaj Wine Growers’ Society. The 18th Century Baroque winery sits at the center of the town of Bodrogkeresztúr and went under a serious modern renovation in 2011. Founded in 1998, the Füleky estate owns 25 hectares of some of the best historical vineyards in the region. Making dry, late harvest and Aszú wines, the distance from the Bodrog River in tandem with the marshlands is key. Things to … Continue reading Visit a Winery: Füleky in Tokaj

Hungary’s Red Gold: Red Fangs Paprika, Kékfrankos and Kadarka

“I must tell you: Hungarian paprika is the best. This is not arrogant nationalism. This is a fact.”—Flora Gaspar My paprika education and enjoyment started and continues with Flora Gaspar at Da Flora restaurant in North Beach. Flora is someone I like to reserve at least two hours for even when I only have a few wines to share. Her encyclopedic knowledge of Hungarian history, language, food, and culture are based on decades of personal experience and heritage. That’s the first hour. The second hour is dedicated to her opinions about the first. She tackles all of the things that make wine and food so endlessly engaging. I’ve shamelessly plagiarized her insight and stories to further your Hungarian indoctrination. And although her restaurant (everyone should go) just turned 20 years old, importing Paprika under her Red Fangs label is just getting off the ground. To tie everything together, Flora has shared some of her favorite Paprika laden recipes, paired them with two Hungarian wines I will be bombarding you with in the coming months, and of course the opportunity to purchase some Red Fangs yourself. Before we get to the wines, recipes and the stories behind them told by Flora … Continue reading Hungary’s Red Gold: Red Fangs Paprika, Kékfrankos and Kadarka

Tokaj Today

In preparation for the 3rd Annual Great Tokaj Auction, Tom Gardyne of The Drinks Business, asked Eric Danch to explain the current state of Tokaji wines in the US market. Q. What’s demand like for Tokaj at present? Difficult question. It’s like asking what was the demand for Grüner Veltliner in the late 1980’s. Once people became comfortable with Austrian wine, the range of styles, and how to navigate the umlaut, it became a standard on every serious wine list. As for Tokaj, even though for the past 500 years the traditional wines like Aszú, dry Szamorodni, Sweet Szamorodni, late harvest, and Eszencia warranted the world’s first wine appellation system (over 100 years before Bordeaux), the quality dry wines are just over a decade old. That said, there is no doubt that unique grapes are planted in unique places coupled with an incredible producer renaissance. This is what’s exciting about Tokaj right now and people are taking note. We should also remember that Tokaj was once in high demand and a muse for Leo Tolstoy, Pablo Néruda, Balzac, Flaubert, Diderot, Catherine the Great, Goethe, Peter the Great, Bram Stoker, and Voltaire to name a few. No reason that kind of … Continue reading Tokaj Today

Dynamic Duo Of Somló

Sometime ago, we drew your attention to this region of Volcano Gods and now we return to delve deeper and celebrate success. We are pleased to report that Istvan Spiegelberg has won the prestigious Wine & Spirits Top 100 Wineries of 2014 award. “His latest releases, particularly this late-harvest juhfark, are catapulting him into the realm of Hungary’s greatest vintners.” noted Wine & Spirits Magazine referring to the 95-point rated 2010 Juhfark Szent Ilona. Somló is celebrated for its volcanic past and distinctive mineral-laced wines. The region is almost exclusively white wine territory with a long tradition of extended barrel aging. This lends an oxidative quality to the wines which aids in their ability to improve with bottle aging and stay fresh longer than the average white wine once opened. These are voluptuous, full-bodied whites enjoyed with dishes we may normally reserve for red wine, like red meats. Another tell-tell sign of wines from this region is riper fruits coupled with high acidity and smoky minerality. The five authorized grapes of Somló are Juhfark, Furmint, Olaszrizling, Hárslevelű, and Tramini. Istvan Spiegelberg and Fekete Bela are our “dynamic duo” of producers in Somló, keeping traditions alive and garnering attention outside of … Continue reading Dynamic Duo Of Somló

Juhfark-ing Around

All jokes aside, Juhfark is a grape name that is not heard too often. Meaning “sheep’s tail”, the grape is pretty much only grown in the tiny Hungarian appellation of Somló. Juhfark grape bunches grow in a distinctive cylindrical shape which recalls to mind a sheep’s tail, hence the name. The grape is early to break bud and tends to be quite high yielding. Juhfark used to be extensively grown throughout northern Hungary for this reason but soon fell out of fashion. When allowed to produce such high yields, the berries produce a neutral, high acid, uninteresting wine. However, the volcanic soils of Somló have proven to be Juhfark’s best terroir, allowing the grape to express a sense of place and varietal. As of 2008, only 358 acres of Juhfark were planted in all of Hungary, primarily in Somló, but the small amount of wine that is produced today from this grape is truly something to experience. Juhfark acts as a direct link to experience the terroir of Somló. The nose hints at green apple/pear with a floral yet herbal character. But on the palate, the fruit disappears and the star of the show becomes the unique smokey, ash, and … Continue reading Juhfark-ing Around

What if the Westeros Houses were drinking Blue Danube Wines?

Are you a wine lover who is like me obsessed with George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire? Wine is a major theme in the series and is often associated with the most important plots: a wineseller attempts to poison Daenerys with a cask of of fine Arbor red; King Robert who only loved three things: war, women and wine, is mortally wounded by a boar while hunting drunk; at his wedding, Joffrey’s wine is poisoned and he dies after drinking from his wine goblet. Now, did you know that pairing wines with each of the 9 main houses of Westeros has become increasingly popular on the internet? Check this version based on regions and climates or this one based on wine labels and the houses’ sigils. And don’t miss the Game of Thrones Wine Map. So I couldn’t resist. Here is my Blue Danube version: House Stark The Starks are lean of build and long of face. They live in Winterfell in the North, a castle warmed by natural hot springs, evidence of some volcanic activity. Their wine is the 2011 Bott Csontos Furmint from the Tokaj region. The wine grows on volcanic slopes where the soil … Continue reading What if the Westeros Houses were drinking Blue Danube Wines?

I’ll Drink to That! Exclusive interview with Samuel Tinon

If you like Tokaj, or if you want to learn more about Tokaj, you should check I’ll Drink to That!‘s latest episode. I’ll Drink to That! is a podcast that releases new interviews of sommeliers, vintners, importers, retailers, and wine journalists every Tuesday and Friday. Episode 164 features an interview with Tokaj guru Samuel Tinon during his recent visit to New York City. Born in Bordeaux in 1966, Samuel Tinon comes from a wine producing family in Sainte Croix du Mont, a sweet wine appellation on the Garonne River across from Sauternes. After his wine studies in Bordeaux and Montpellier, Samuel traveled to Spain and Chile. In 1999, he had the opportunity to work in Hungary in the Tokaj region. He didn’t know much about Hungary but there is a strong connection between sweet wine making in Bordeaux and Tokaj. He was the first French winemaker to arrive in the region, just a month after the departure of the Soviet Army. Interview Highlights How he started his winery In 2000, when his contract with Oremus ended, Samuel decided to buy some land, grapes, and a tractor in the village of Olaszliska, but had no money. To finance his venture, he … Continue reading I’ll Drink to That! Exclusive interview with Samuel Tinon