Moldy grapes are better

Most of the 2018 fruit is in across the portfolio, and seeing all of the harvest action over social media is a reminder of how diverse and special these places are. In particular, there’s the ubiquitous “perfect cluster photo” phenomenon. For the vast majority of the wine world, it’s a shiny perfect looking uniform cluster. My feed is full of botrytis ridden desiccated clusters. Speaking of botrytis, whether fermented dry, off dry, under flor or sweet, tons of brand new wines from Samuel Tinon, Oszkár Maurer, Demeter Zoltán, Bodrog Borműhely, Kikelet and Fekete Béla have just landed. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the new Gere Olaszrizling, Káli-Kövek Olaszrizling and Juhfark, and Szőke Mátyás Irsai Olivér have the brightness, salt, and aromatics to tackle the final weeks of summer and transition into the fall. First, let me properly introduce Oszkár Maurer from Subotičko – Horgoškoj, Serbia. Oszkár is ethnically Hungarian, and the region, formally known as the Szerémség, was Hungarian for hundreds of years. Due to the sandy soils piled up between the Danube and Sava rivers, many grapes are still own-rooted and planted as far back as 1880. The nearby Fruška-Gora (Tarcal in Hungarian) mountains bring volcanic soils … Continue reading Moldy grapes are better

#WineWednesday Spotlight #151: Maurer Kövidinka

Oszkar Maurer’s winery is located in the Subotica (or Szabadka in Hungarian) wine region in Serbia, just south of the Hungarian-Serbian border. This is where he traditionally and organically farms 6 acres planted to native grape varieties such as Szerémi zöld, Bakator, Mézes fehér, Kövidinka, and Kadarka. Many of these grapes are more than a hundred years old. The Szerémi zöld and Bakator were planted in 1909, the Kövidinka in 1925, and the oldest Kadarka was planted in 1880, which makes it the oldest Kadarka in the world. The Kövidinka grapes are sourced from a low-yielding 93-year-old vineyard, manually tended and still plowed with horses. The wine was spontaneously fermented with native yeast and made with low sulphur. Also low in alcohol (10.2%), it is light, dry, and crisp, with distinctive stony flavors, a creamy mouthfeel, and a fresh finish. It’s a lovely wine, perfect for the last warm weather nights of the season. Sip it with appetizers, a fresh salad or a cheese platter. You can get it here.

Meet Oszkár Maurer in this video from Terra Hungarica

Working with 30 producers, Terra Hungarica runs campaigns, organize tastings and – most importantly – the Mitiszol Festival, a wine event in Hungary that attracts hundreds of wine lovers year after year. All producers under the Terra Hungarica flag adhere to sustainable farming without artificial fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and harvesting machinery, as well as natural winemaking, avoiding chaptalisation, the use of added yeasts, additives and manipulation techniques. Here is a video of Serbian winemaker Oszkár Maurer made by Terra Hungarica, explaining his philosophy:

Introducing Our New Producer Oszkár Maurer

After meeting Oszkár Maurer for the first time, my hands were sore from taking so many notes and my head was spinning. Serbia? Tokaj connections? Oldest pre phylloxera Kadarka vines in the world? Origin of Furmint? Far too much to cover in this newsletter, but here’s the pitch along with my hopes that as many people as possible try this limited wine. Oszkár’s Kadarka, planted in 1880 in sand, is from the Sremska region in Northern Serbia, but was historically the Hungarian appellation of Szerém. Before the Ottoman Occupation in the early 16th Century, this was one of the most famous appellations in Hungary. In the mid 1400s, it’s thought that settlers from here brought grapes like Furmint and Sárga Muskotály to Tokaj and knowledge for using Aszú (dried berries) for sweetening wines. Oszkár believes that the Szerém appellation was established as early as 1452. He’s a fervent student of wine history and lectures at home and abroad. Back in Serbia, he organically farms a number of grapes ranging from Bakator, Szerémi Zöld, Kadarka, and Mézes Fehér. Everything is done by hand or horse. Fruit trees grow amongst the vines and fallen peaches litter the ground. Bugs, rabbits, and life … Continue reading Introducing Our New Producer Oszkár Maurer

Rubin: A Leading Serbian Cooperative Goes Private

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe A few Rubin wines Rubin is an interesting case of a former Communist cooperative that went private. One reason that it stuck out to us, was that it took an incredibly long time to privatize. Where most wine cooperatives were transferred to private hands during the 1990’s, Rubin only went private two years ago. Secondly, it’s more massive than any former cooperative we had encountered before. They produce five million bottles of liquor each year, three million of which are wine. They buy wine grapes from all over the region, including neighboring Macedonia. Lastly, they have vineyards in Kosovo of all places. All of these points make the company sound like any large-scale producer in America and thusly, our expectations were low; very low. We found it amazing that even though Rubin produces at such a large scale, their wines, especially the Terra Lazarica line are more than just drinkable and are even quite noteworthy. Rubin’s Cab Sauv We tasted the 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc that we found to have some good fruit aromas to the body and the nose. It was easy to drink and … Continue reading Rubin: A Leading Serbian Cooperative Goes Private

The Whites of Aleksandrović

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Bottle and classy presentation Another winery that we sampled at the Novi Sad Wine Fair was Aleksandrović. He is located in Vinća, Topela in Serbia and like most wine producers in the region, his family had a long tradition of wine making that stopped and didn’t really start again until Communism ended and he could produce for more people than just his immediate family. Since they started up again in 1991, they have managed to build their winery up to producing 200,000 to 300,000 liters a year from the 20 hectares that they own as well as from a supply of grapes from others in the area who augment their estate grapes. Several other wines While they make a great number of wines including a Rosé and a Pinot Noir, it was only the whites that we tasted. We started a tad bit skeptical of these whites from Serbia, but were quickly impressed due to the wonderful craft that has gone in to these wines. The 2006 Riesling weighed in at 13.2% alcohol and was a blend of Rhine and Italian varietals. It was very nice … Continue reading The Whites of Aleksandrović

What is Bermet?

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Downtown Sremci Karlovci Red Bermet Bermet is a sweet wine that is a specialty of northern Serbia’s Fruška Gora wine region, in the Vojvodina province. It has between 16 and 18% of alcohol and it is usually served as a dessert wine, with coffee and cookies, but can also be served as an aperitif, much like Italian Vermouth. However, Bermet is produced in a different way than Vermouth, through maceration of 20 different herbs and spices. It can be made of red or white grapes, but the exact recipe is secret and held by only a handful of families in the town of Sremci Karlovci. Dulka winery, for example, told us that he makes the base of his white Bermet are župljanka grapes, a local variety, and Merlot for his red. Other vintners seem to use Portugieser, and others blend both red and white grapes. White Bermet As the story goes, Bermet was very popular among the aristocracy of the Austro-Hungarian empire and was regularly exported to the court in Vienna in large quantities. Moreover, according to some documents, a few Bermets were even included in … Continue reading What is Bermet?

Novi Sads 4th International Wine Festival

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe While in Belgrade, we decided to take a little day trip to the little wine-making town of Srmeski Karlovci to discover some Serbian wines, and we discovered by chance that a wine festival was starting the follwing day in Novi Sad (from the 28th to the 30th of July), the second largest city in Serbia and the capital of the Vojvodina province. Rubin’s wines So we spent a couple of extra days in Novi Sad enjoying wines not only from Serbia, but also from the whole Southeastern European region, at this festival, which is growing in popularity every year. Among the Serbian wines, we had the chance to taste many Bermets from different producers, all them delicious, but also some excellent regular wines. Among the reds, we were impressed by the high quality of Rubin’s Terra Lazarica Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, which were a pleasant surprise from such a big winery that produces around 5 million bottles of wine a year. In the white deparment, Aleksandrovic‘s Sauvignon Blanc was simply outstanding. Istrian lunch Then we also got the chance to taste some Macedonian and Croatian … Continue reading Novi Sads 4th International Wine Festival

A Serbian Introduction Through Dulka

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe A taste at Dulka From Croatia, we traveled south through Montenegro (which is Plantaže country) and then north up to Belgrade. Curious about the local wine scene, we head up to the beautiful town of Sremski Karlovci, in the Fruška Gora wine region, to taste what the vintners in that area were doing with the grape. We found our way to Dulka (or Дулка in Serbian Cyrllic.) Đorđe Dragojlović (Dulka) is from a line of wine makers who started around 150 years ago in the region. Of course, the period of Communism severely impacted their production as they had to feed in to a central cooperative, just like any grape grower in the former Yugoslavia. But, with the beginning of the 1990’s, they ramped up production again. The Bermet He produces from eight hectares of land and makes about 36,000 liters of wine each year including a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and next year, Sauvignon Blanc. One very unique wine that we tried was called Bermet. This is dessert wine that’s rather hard to describe as it is its own creation. We’re not aware of it being … Continue reading A Serbian Introduction Through Dulka