Todd Smith of DOSA pairs Indian flavors with Croatian, Slovenian, Hungarian, and Georgian Wines

Todd Smith, wine director for DOSA South Indian restaurants in San Francisco, shares some of his wine pairing discoveries in this interview conducted by Lauren Sloss for Culintro. LS: What’s been the most surprising (and delicious!) pairing that you’ve found? TS: Maybe the first time I properly chilled a Plavac Mali from the Pelješac in Croatia and was super surprised and how it really coaxed out the tropical notes in a Kerala Fish Moilee — a coconut-based curry from the Southwest Coast of India. Todd continues: There are some regions that produce amazing wines, but their economies are struggling and/or their operating costs are so low that they offer top-flight wines for a fraction of the cost of certain unnamed wine producing regions. This is why I love countries with a wine industry such as Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Hungary, Georgia (mostly!)… Read the whole interview here.

Tokaj Perfection: Sampling Füleky Estate’s Liquid Gold

Here is Colm FitzGerald’s, editor of The Paprika Project, visit to Füleky in Tokaj, Hungary; sure to make you want to go and try these fine wines! The steady putt of the riverboat’s engine put me at ease. It was my first time navigating a boat that didn’t have an outboard engine and I was nervous—all alone with the small craft’s wheel in my hands. I was in north-east Hungary, cruising along the Bodrog River in the famous Tokaj wine region. On the top deck, the other passengers—my wife Anita, the captain, his wife and Hajnalka Szabo and György Brezovcsik from the Füleky Winery—soaked up the early summer sun. The captain, a fit tanned man in his 60’s, handed over the wheel moments earlier. Soon, I was completely at ease captaining the boat. Thick cottonwood trees lined either side of the slow moving brown-green river, cool air blew into the open cabin and an egret swooped across the water ahead. Aside from the occasional pair of rowers sliding past in their sculls, we were all alone. Serene, beautiful and meditative—it was the perfect way to spend a June afternoon. Before our river cruise, Hajnalka and György (we’ll call him Gyuri … Continue reading Tokaj Perfection: Sampling Füleky Estate’s Liquid Gold

Get to know “The Paprika Project”

“The Paprika Project” is American Colm FitzGeralds’ blog about his experiences as an expat living in Hungary. We had the pleasure of meeting him recently and think you will enjoy his unique perspectives on Hungarian culture, including wine of course! The blog is also very helpful if you are planning to travel throughout Hungary. Allow Colm to introduce himself and learn more about “The Paprika Project”: I vividly remember my first trip to Hungary. It was 2005; I was living in Ireland at the time and my Hungarian girlfriend had invited me to meet her family. Knowing next to nothing about this central European country, I was instantly captivated. Culturally, linguistically and historically—everything was waiting to be discovered. I remember lying in her parents’ garden— cool grass beneath me, warm sun on my face and chest. After 6 months in Ireland, sunny weather was a blessing in itself. It was springtime and flowers of every color adorned the green, hilly landscape. During those ten days in Hungary I discovered a whole new world: the unique Magyar people and language; a tumultuous history of invasions, occupations and uprisings; a food culture bordering on obsession; and an intimacy with the land and … Continue reading Get to know “The Paprika Project”

A Brief Introduction to the Confrérie de Tokaj

The French word “confrérie” means brotherhood and is used extensively for cultural or religious partnerships between groups of people. The Confrérie has a long history in Tokaj. It was originally set up in 1987 by the state winery, Tokaj Kereskedőház, as La Confrérie “Vinum Regnum, Rex Vinorum”(King of Wines, Wine of Kings) de Tokaj. The members goal was to promote the wines and gastronomy of the Tokaj wine region. Starting in 1999 La Confrérie “Vinum Regnum, Rex Vinorum” de Tokaj was managed by Tokaj Renaissance, a producers’ association, and the twenty Tokaj Renaissance members became members of the Board. Tamás Dusóczky, who has worked internationally to rebuild the image of the Tokaji wine since the fall of Communism, received the majority of votes and thus became Grand Maître. After 15 years of service, Tamás recently stepped down but remains an honorary board member. The most recent reincarnation of this group is the Confrérie de Tokaj (Tokaji Borlovagrend) which was formed in 2012 by 100 founding members, many of whom are winemakers. In addition to reforming the Confrérie and initiation ceremony, members travelled to Burgundy to learn more about famous auction Hospices de Beaune, and organize their own annual wine auction. … Continue reading A Brief Introduction to the Confrérie de Tokaj

Demeter Zoltán, Tokaj, Hungary

Having recently been fortunate enough to spend two weeks in Austria and Hungary, I can happily say my notebook is full of things to further clog your inbox for months to come. However, in the interest of keeping things focused and digging a little deeper, I’d like to start with a particularly intense (in a good way) encounter with Demeter Zoltán in Hungary’s Tokaj appellation. Terroir lesson from Demeter Zoltán Demeter is a one man army by choice and demands 100% control over everything. By everything, work in the vineyards, winery and cellar are all assumed. His control extends to how the word “Tokaj” is placed on his labels, custom drawers in his tasting room filled with terroir specific soils and rocks, selecting specific music for the winery/cellar/tasting room, and creating custom maps for his single vineyards. Even the photography associated with his brand on Facebook is his own and branded with his logo. If I were to move a book on shelf without him seeing, I have little doubt he would notice the moment he turned back around. Tasting with Demeter Zoltán The fascinating thing is that despite all of this control, he’s happy to admit the elusive magic … Continue reading Demeter Zoltán, Tokaj, Hungary

Join Blue Danube at the Hungarian Heritage Festival

Celebrate Hungarian culture at the Hungarian Heritage Festival this Saturday May 9th, in Belmont, CA. There will be music, dance, food and wine from 12pm to 9pm. Also don’t miss Prof. Eric Danch’s presentation on “The Hungarian Wine” from 1:30pm to 2:00pm. Our wines will be available to pair with Pörkölt, Töltött Káposzta, and Lángos. Here is the program. Looking forward to seeing you this Saturday!

Hungary: The New France

Hungary is neither new, nor French, but both countries are lands of developed terroir. In fact, the concept may even be older in Hungary. The vineyards around the city of Tokaj were recognized as special early on and ranked through a formal classification in 1770, a century before Bordeaux received similar treatment. Tokaj is as faceted and hypnotic as Burgundy, Somló an enigma like Hermitage and Eger something of a mini Loire, but Hungarian wines are not French facsimiles, they are utterly different. What underlies the wines of both is the slow understanding of relationships between land, vine and wine that farmers have formed over centuries into the distinct archetypes they are today. The French models are better recognized, marketed and never suffered 50 years of collectivized production, but these things have little to do with the Hungarian wine Renaissance happening right now. Let’s taste it! It is not by accident that Samuel Tinon, French vigneron by birth makes strongly Hungarian Tokaji. He grew up on the estate of his family in St. Croix-du-Monts where his sister makes botrytis wines today. His restless curiosity took him around the world, studying, tasting and making wine. Samuel was drawn to Tokaj by … Continue reading Hungary: The New France

Amici Vinorum Olaszliszka and their 2013 Hárslevelű

The Amici Vinorum Olaszliszka (Friends of Wine of Olaszliszka) “Olaszliszka is an important village, it is our village. We feel like guest, we try to do something for the village. There a group of motivated people who all want to build and give value to this village. This is the start: Let’s do it.” — Samuel Tinon Olaszlizska is the largest village along the Bodrog River between Tokaj and Sárospatak and dates back to the 12th Century. It has formally been attached to the Tokaj appellation since 1560. Despite suffering through Ottoman times and a plague in the 1730’s, this village has been noted for top crus and famous wines for hundreds of years. Olaszliszka along the Bodrog river The soil is riddled with volcanic stones and Nyirok (red clay) and planted mostly to the Hárslevelű grape. The Amici Vinorum Olaszliszka (Latin for Olaszliszka Friends of Wine) is the combined efforts of 10 local winemakers to reaffirm the historical identity and importance of the village of Olaszliszka. Much like Burgundy, although many of the same grapes and styles are produced throughout the appellation, each village has a distinct identity. Tour of the vineyards in Olaszliszka Sourcing from vineyards like Csontos, … Continue reading Amici Vinorum Olaszliszka and their 2013 Hárslevelű

Hungarian Wine Tasting Review by Christine Havens

Recently Frank Dietrich led an in depth tasting of Hungarian wines at Soif wine bar in Santa Cruz, CA. The wines represented many of the major appellations and indigenous grapes of the regions. Wine writer Christine Havens attended this event and has graciously permitted us to share her blog post, in which she provides detailed notes of the wines tasted as well as a little of her own connection to Hungary. You can view the original post, and all of Christine’s other reviews on her site. Hungarian Wine Tasting at Soif Wine Bar & Merchants by Christine Havens. My mother is Hungarian. My father was mostly English with some other nationalities thrown in, like most Americans, his family tree included a pinch of German and a nip of Irish. My dad never talked about his heritage, but my mother has always been fiercely proud of her ancestry. I suppose that’s why I’ve always identified as Hungarian, the country with some of the world’s most beautiful women and a famously high rate of depression, pessimism and overall gloominess. After my grandparents had passed, photos of my great grandparents emerged from dusty albums stored and long forgotten in their basement. My predecessors … Continue reading Hungarian Wine Tasting Review by Christine Havens

Hungary’s Divine Tokaj Wines

Do you want to know more about Hungary’s beloved wine region of Tokaj? welovebudapest.com has put together this great primer on the region and its myriad of wine styles. Like a gigantic quilt of randomly shaped corduroy patches draped over a vast expanse of pillows, the hills of Hungary’s globally revered Tokaj wine region are crisscrossed with premier vineyards cultivated for centuries – this is the source of goldenly sweet Aszú, long esteemed as one of the world’s most desirable libations. Read the whole article here. Drink wines from the article: Try the masterful dry Furmints from Demeter Zoltán or the often overlooked specialty dry Szamorodni, from Samuel Tinon. View all of our wines from Hungary here.