End your summer with a sparkle

Kreinbacher sparkling wine on its lees Acid, spices, smoke and volcanic heritage 4-5 million years ago, lava erupted in Somló, building a mountain of basalt above an ancient sea and creating a unique environment for growing grapes. Since 2011, the Kreinbacher Estate is combining the traditions of Champagne with Somlo’s distinctiveness. Blending highly mineral Furmint sourced from the coolest, eastern slopes of the Somló hill with a dash of Chardonnay, they produce terroir-driven sparkling wines full of spices, smoky flavors and acidity. A 16 g/l dosage provides their Extra-Dry cuvée with a pleasing roundness. Törley Winery’s old posters Densely chalk-ridden soils and vibrant acidity in Etyek-Buda. There’re several similarities between the Etyek-Buda region near Budapest and Champagne: located at nearly the same latitude, they both have a unique terroir of limestone subsoil producing wines with high acidity. These similarities led József Törley in 1882 to build a sparkling wine production in the region, quickly winning an international reputation. A bright blend of Királyleányka, Riesling, and Grüner Veltliner, Törley Gála Sec is a sparkling made with the Charmat Method and a great Prosecco alternative. Much sweeter, the aromatic Törley Fortuna (a blend of Cserszegi Füszeres, Muskat Ottonel, Csabagyöngye) is a perfect … Continue reading End your summer with a sparkle

#WineWednesday Spotlight #37: Csendes Dűlő Kéknyelü & Hárslevelű

This tasting note has been translated from the original German text written by Peter Klingler for his blog Borwerk (a Hungarian-German word combination meaning “WineWorks”). As if German is not tough enough, Peter’s distinctly short-hand style is not easy to transfer to English prose. We tried to make it readable and still retain the flavor of his personality. Most striking at first: how inconspicuous both wines are. It seems as if the Kéknyelü – AKA Blaustengler in German – and the Hárslevelü as well, do justice to the name of the estate: Csendes Dűlő. Quiet, tranquil vineyard. But unobtrusiveness and silence change over time. Formative for a specific style, if you can say that at all about one of the first vintages of a new producer on the fine wine market, the impression of a distinct character remains, nevertheless. This can simply be explained with time, or rather with their youth. In the first few minutes in the glass, both wines appear closed. This changes over time, mainly with the Kéknyelû. After a few days it packs a bunch of flavors on top. The fruit remains rather sparse, pears, quince, yellow stone fruit, half-ripe and somewhat restrained. A fine mineral … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #37: Csendes Dűlő Kéknyelü & Hárslevelű

Wineterroirs visits Judit & József Bodó in Tokaj

French photographer, writer and blogger at Wineterroirs, Bertrand Celce recently visited the Tokaj region and was impressed by the dynamism of its young winemakers. The Tokaj region may be felt like an established wine region from abroad due to its documented tradition in the past centuries but oddly it’s also a very dynamic region in terms of young artisan winemakers, it’l like if Burgundy met Touraine or Anjou, and there may be several reasons behind this, one of them being possibly the socialist interlude during which the parcels on the slopes, the equivalent of the Burgundy climats were abandoned under the post-war communist rule in favor of massive plantings on the flatland for productivist efficiency : Since freedom of enterprise came back around 1989, daring vignerons had all these slopes (then covered by bushes and woods) to reconquer with great potential for making quality wine again During his trip, he visited the vineyards and cellars of Bott Winery owned by Judit & József Bodó, and tasted the estate’s latest production: Teleki 2015, made with Furmint and a bit of Hárslevelű (there are a few complanted vines). Vines are 70 years old, their oldest parcel. Loess soil with lots of chalk. … Continue reading Wineterroirs visits Judit & József Bodó in Tokaj

#WineWednesday Spotlight #32: Füleky Pallas Late Harvest

Contributed by Colm FitzGerald. Colm was born in Ireland, grew up in Southern California and now lives in Hungary. He’s passionate about exploring new cultures and off the tourist-trail destinations. His blog, The Paprika Project was born from the idea of sharing Hungary’s rich culture and natural beauty with the world. Learn more about The Paprika Project in our blog. Füleky Pallas Tokaji Late Harvest 2012 Made from overripe shriveled grapes creating a sweet, but balanced wine. A great introduction for those new to Hungarian dessert wines. Sticky sweet, but with acidity, with hints of butterscotch and ripe fruit. I never understood what people meant when they said a wine had the taste or smell of “cut straw” or “cut grass”. Now I know. Long finish of residual sweetness. Delicious. You can read about Colm’s full visit to the Füleky estate here.

#WineWednesday Spotlight #29: Gere Cabernet Sauvignon

Contributed by Michael Zeebroek. Michael is a young Belgian living in Budapest. He writes a wine blog called Wonderfultasting where his “goal is to get the world to respect Hungarian wines…” Gere Atilla Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Gere Atilla is one of the most famous wine makers in Hungary, he put Hungary on the wine map with his famous Kopár cuvée. The winery is run by the Gere family and cellar tours will only be given by one of the members. The winery itself is located just a small walk out of the town centre where they also have a spa hotel named Crocus and a fine dining restaurant named Mandula. The restaurant is where you will most likely enjoy a wine tasting so you can also enjoy a few dishes that will perfectly complement the wine.   The history of Gere Pincészete started seven generations ago, the ancestors of Atilla Gere took a long journey which was challenging and required great diligence. The family always wanted to respect and follow the traditions but at the same time there had to be room for experimenting and trying to make new and interesting wines. Today the Gere cellar has over 70 hectares … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #29: Gere Cabernet Sauvignon

Reflections from a Final Meal in Budapest

“Munchausen, I know you Christians are judges of good wine. Here is a bottle of Tokay, the only one I possess, and I am sure that never in your life can you have tasted better.” – The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen, 1785 I was recently reflecting upon my last meal in Budapest that I happily consumed just over a week ago. Despite being fed whipped pig fat, goose cracklings, paprika laden stews, kolbász, pickled everything and so on 3-4 times a day for 11 days, I still felt compelled to order basically the same thing when finally given the chance to order for myself. I even upped the ante a bit and went right for rooster testicles and cocks comb stew with an Irsai Olivér Fröcs (aka Spritz). There was so much delicious fat, bright raw onions, smoke, garlic, paprika, and fermented flavors over the course of the dinner that it was difficult to think about drinking anything other than Hungarian wines. Maybe a volcanic Canary or Etna here or there or perhaps some Chenin or Riesling, but after you had a Tokaj Aszú with over 300 grams of residual sugar, 12 g/l total acidity and 7% alcohol that … Continue reading Reflections from a Final Meal in Budapest

#WineWednesday Spotlight #25: Wetzer Kékfrankos

The town of Sopron, right near the western border of Hungary is where some of the best Kékfrankos (in Austria this grape is known as Blaufränkisch) comes from. Having strong cultural and viticultural ties to Burgenland as well, it makes sense that Kékfrankos is the most planted variety here. Sopron is unique to Hungary in its climate as well it’s traditions of vinification. Instead of being in or near the vineyards, cellars are located under the houses of the families making the wine. It is this rich historical environment where Peter Wetzer comes from; his house and cellar belonged to his family for five generations. Wetzer is striving to make wines that follow old traditions and are related to the appellation of Sopron in the closest sense possible: keeping natural flora in the vineyard, no tilling or trimming is practiced. The wine is fermented with native yeast, unfined and unfiltered. He does everything in the vineyard by hand. This traditional approach combined with the sub-alpine climate of cooler summers and milder winters results in a wine which is rugged and elegant at the same time. The darker fruit associated with Kékfrankos is accompanied by some tartness and acidity, it is a … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #25: Wetzer Kékfrankos

Basalt buttes, a massive lake, and volcanic traditional method. 3 New arrivals from Hungary

There are a slew of brand new producers from Hungary landing in the coming months. For many, this will be their very first time in the United States. This is of course an exciting and somewhat terrifying proposition. How will a Kéknyelű from Badacsony be received? Traditional Method sparkling Furmint from outside of Tokaj? Hárslevelű with Benedictine roots planted on a Basalt volcano? I have no idea and I can’t wait to get started. Upon our last visit to the Hungarian appellation of Somló we were fortunate enough to run into Zoltán Balogh from Apátsági Winery. Their estate and cellar were originally owned by the Benedictine Pannonhalma Archabbey. After WWII, the land was expropriated and redistributed during Communism. It was brought back to life in 2001 with 5 people (including the grandson of the last winemaker before the war), 3 hectares, no herbicides, no pesticides, and using large oak fermenters. Their 2013 Hárslevelű exemplifies what Zoltán admires about the appellation as a whole, “When you have Somló acid, why not find balance with sugar.” A concentrated and alive wine. Speaking of acid, but without skin contact and botrytis, Somló is also home to Kreinbacher. While they do make some still … Continue reading Basalt buttes, a massive lake, and volcanic traditional method. 3 New arrivals from Hungary

3 Wines from Central Europe You Need To Know Now

Bottlenotes recommends adding these three Central European wines to your repertoire. For the past decade, wines from Central and Eastern Europe have been something of a sommelier secret stateside. The names can be hard to pronounce (hárslevelű, anyone?), but the best bottles offer exceptional value and tend to work extremely well with food. Here are the three recommended wines: Samuel Tinon Furmint Birtok (Tokaj, Hungary) Sommeliers and wine insiders have been raving about furmint for years. The grape, which is commonly used to make Hungary’s famous sweet wines, also makes an intriguing dry wine with medium- to full-body and high acidity (read: an ideal wine to pair with food). Piquentum Blanc (Istria, Croatia) Croatia may have initially gained some international fame for its red wines, but many sommeliers now feel that the white Malvasia coming out of the country is some of the best representations of the grape in Europe. When made in a dry style, it makes a crisp wine with some weight in the body, similar to dry Chenin Blanc. Orgo Rkatsiteli (Kakheti, Georgia) Georgian wines can be tricky to pin down from producer to producer. Some are quite rustic and oxidative, while a growing number offer more … Continue reading 3 Wines from Central Europe You Need To Know Now

#WineWednesday Spotlight #18: Fekete Juhfark

Somló is Hungary’s smallest appellation and once an underwater volcano. Now dormant, its slopes of ancient sea sediment, hardened lava, and basalt are home to some of Hungary’s steepest, most densely planted vineyards. Somló is also home to winemaker Fekete Béla, who only recently retired after 30 + years tending the same vineyard. Our spotlight this week is his Juhfark as reviewed by Portland-based wine writer, Christine Havens: From an obscure, nearly extinct grape variety, Juhfark translated literally means “sheep’s tail” so named because tightly clustered bunches have a distinctive curve at the tip. Found only in the Somló region of Hungary, this non-aromatic variety is typically aged in large oak barriques. Meyer lemon zest, cling peaches, chamomile, and white flowers round out the nose. It’s a broad-shouldered white with a coursing vein of acidity, along with a mineral upwelling that showcases an ashy, volcanic soil type. Although Béla recommends drinking it with roasted wild fowl, rich cheeses, smoked fish, and subtly spicy dishes are all welcome pairings. Happy Hungarian #WineWednesday!