Back in 2012 we attended the 3rd ever Furmint February tasting event in Budapest founded by Dániel Kézdy. There were 55 producers attending. At that point, I couldn’t name more than 10 producers and had tasted far less. It was equal parts significantly humbling and exciting. This year, there are 104 producers attending. The growth is clear and it’s quality driven. In 2012 Blue Danube had 2 producers with Furmint, now we have 15 and counting. Furmint February and Furmint Day (Feb 1st) are also not limited to this tasting, but a celebration of Furmint all month, all over Hungary, and beyond. It should be said that Furmint is also produced in Slovenia (Šipon), Slovakia, Germany, Croatia (Šipon/Moslavac), South Africa, Serbia, Romania, Austria (Mosler), Crimea and even a little bit right here in California just to name just a few. However, the commercial hub and linkage to national wine identity is most pronounced in Hungary. Hungarians sing about Tokaj in their National Anthem where Furmint is the most planted grape. Additionally, I also believe that Furmint captures the volcanic nature of Hungary. Above and beyond the thermal baths and killer mineral water, volcanic terroir runs through most of the country, … Continue reading Furmint February!
For blogger Steve Mirsky, Furmint is Hungary’s answer to other less mainstream white wines gaining prominence lately, such as Austria’s Grüner Veltliner. “Now is the perfect time to be a hero,” he writes, “and skip your go-to Chardonnay or Riesling.” If you’re ready to skip your usual Chardonnay for the vibrant Furmint, here is Steve’s review of the 2015 Patricius Dry Furmint from Tokaj: Patricius began purchasing first-growth classified vineyards in 1997, now totaling 346 acres. Their wine press house built over 200 years ago and then owned and operated by the Jesuits and aristocratic families, was renovated into a state-of-the-art underground winery in 2005 utilizing gravitational technology yet preserving original architectural details. It is here that winemakers showcase the local Furmint grape’s vibrant minerality and well-balanced acidity in their lineup particularly in their 2015 Dry Furmint. Harvesting begins in September, with fermentation and maturation taking place entirely in stainless steel allowing the grapes to showcase a darker refreshing mouth feel similar to cold cask conditioned ale complemented with a refreshing bite ranging from fresh apple to spring greens. Well balanced fruit with honeyed spice on the nose, its brisk even minerality sets the stage for a cleansed palate pairing … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #124: Patricius Dry Furmint
There is so much well deserved hype over volcanic appellations like the Canary Islands, Santorini, Sicily and so on, but Hungary and its surrounding regions in the Pannonian basin are rarely mentioned. Whether from Tokaj, Somló or Mátra (to name just a few), Furmint is an ideally suited grape for these regions’ rich volcanic soils. With naturally high acidity, ability to attain high sugar levels, and ability to find balance with botrytis, it also still carries its own flavors along with the salt, smoke and density from the volcanic soils. Furthermore, Furmint can do this vinified as dry, off dry, sparkling, oxidatively, under flor, reductively, and sweet. The second International Furmint Day is February 1st 2018. Celebrate Furmint on that day, taste it, like it, share it! #furmintday
Today’s #WineWednesday Spotlight is a festive contribution from our friend Michael Trainor over at @awordtothewine. Michael recently met Patricius Winemaker Peter Molnár and tasted his wines with the Blue Danube team at Night + Market Song restaurant in Silver Lake, Los Angeles. “The first thing I did when my daughter was born, I dipped my finger into Tokaj and placed a drop on Aszú on her tongue so she would know where she came from.” -Peter Molnár, Patricius Tokaj Estate Manager and Winemaker. Last month I had an amazing dinner with the best of company at Song @ntmrkt with @orshi.kiss @edanch @bluedanubewine along with Peter Molnár from @patriciustokaj. Each of Patricius wines were unique and delicious. However, the Katinka and Aszú offer a very special experience. I don’t want to sound corny and I don’t typically purport to be spiritual. For whatever reasons even just a tiny sip of Tokaji invigorates me. It’s the cure for both emotional and physical ails. These are spiritual wines and it’s important for all of us to have Tokaji on hand, for healing as well as pleasure. Celebrate the holidays with a sip of fungal gold from Peter Molnár’s magical Tokaji wines! Boldog új … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #119: Patricius Katinka Late Harvest
Exotic Wine Travel is the joint project of Charine Tan and Dr Matthew Horkey. They write wine travel books and share travel tips, videos, stories, and exciting finds from lesser-known wine regions on their website exoticwinetravel.com. They also have a weekly column, As Drunk By, where they feature interesting wines they encourage wine lovers to seek out. The Kikelet Furmint, tasted at Könyvbár & Restaurant in Budapest, was the featured wine in one of their latest columns. It was one of the wines that stood out that evening among 13 wines that they tasted over dinner: The Kikelet Birtokbor Furmint 2014 is an exemplar of dry Tokaji. The grapes of this bottling underwent long, spontaneous fermentation in old oak barrels. The wine expresses a floral and fiery overtone, accompanied by a core of green apple, flint, almond oil, and lime. Great fruit intensity on the palate with a tertiary hint of spiciness. The high acidity in this wine cleanses the palate and makes it rather food-friendly. A chicken soup or a kind of broth with this wine would be nice. It’s a marvelous effort for a wet and rainy vintage that resulted in small quantities. We just received the 2016 … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #117: Kikelet Furmint
Hurricane delays and late container planning be damned, new arrivals from Hungary, Austria and Romania have finally landed in California. From out west in Sopron and Carnuntum, down in Somló and Lake Balaton, further still to Szekszárd, heading back northeast to Tokaj, and finally all the way over to Romania’s Minis region, these wines are a validation that the farming, winemaking and understanding of terroir are getting better and better year after year. The Reds: Wetzer, Muhr-van der Niepoort, Heimann, Eszterbauer and Balla Géza Only 10 years in, but using maps from the 1840s to find the best vineyards, Peter Wetzer’s 2016 vintage is our Hungarian foil for Cru Beaujolais. It doesn’t taste like Beaujolais, but the balance of spice, earth and structure makes the same person happy. Just about an hour north in Austria’s Carnuntum, the 2015 Samt und Seide from Muhr-van Der Niepoort has more limestone than Sopron’s slate, and is proof of how reflective of terroir Blaufränkisch can be. Further south in Szeskszárd near the Croatian border, we finally have some Kadarka back in stock. Once the most planted red in Hungary and a muse to composers like Franz Liszt (Hungarian Rhapsodies…), it nearly disappeared during Communism. … Continue reading The Red, White, and Botrytized from Hungary, Austria and Romania
“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
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
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 .
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