#WineWednesday Spotlight #26: Brkić Žilavka

Photo: Michael Trainor
Photo: Michael Trainor

Contributed by Michael W. Trainor aka @awordtothewine on Instagram and Twitter. Michael is a “high energy guitar playing glorified wino with an intense curiosity and passion for all living things” based in Los Angeles. Be sure to follow him!

I must confess. I’m having a love affair with Blue Danube Wine. I’m starting to believe they import wine specifically for my pleasure. This was indeed my first date with a wine from Bosnia Herzegovina. The 2014 Brkić Čitlučka Žilavka is a beautiful and unique white wine. The grape is Žilavka, simply pronounced (zhee-lav-ka). So much charm, so much heart, so much beauty, unique characteristics, and so many layers of flavors. A wine made with love and harmony. Organic farming, spontaneous fermentation, aged on its lees, and bottled unfiltered. Perfect. Maybe this should be the only way wines are made.

Josip Brkić and a relative in his tasting room
Josip Brkić and a relative in his tasting room

Learn more about the Brkić winery here.

How to Get In On the Georgian Wine Revival

Georgian wine vessels called qvevri. © Sohadiszno / Getty Images
Georgian wine vessels called qvevri. © Sohadiszno / Getty Images

Even though Georgia’s winemaking tradition dates back 8,000 years, Georgian wines have only recently become more available in the United States. Carson Demmond suggests you pay attention to these wines in a recent article for Food & Wine.

Ten years ago, Georgian wine might have earned a casual mention in conversations about Eastern European cuisine. Now, thanks to a handful of importers and well-traveled sommeliers, it’s at the forefront. Not only is Georgia home to one of the most generous of hospitality traditions – a wine-centric feast known as the supra – it also boasts a winemaking history that goes back a whopping 8,000 years. As early as the Bronze Age there, grape juice was being fermented in beeswax-lined clay vessels called qvevri buried in the ground, and fascinatingly, that’s still how much of the country’s wine is being made today.

One suggested wine to try is 2013 Kindzmarauli Marani Saperavi:

Kindzmarauli is both the name of a semi-sweet red made from the Saperavi grape and the name of one of the most important wineries in the Kakheti region, so make sure to look for the word ‘dry’ on the label. This is rich in color, velvety in texture, with a pleasant licorice-and-herb bitterness that makes it an ideal pairing for game.

Browse all Georgian wines here.

In search of Zinfandel’s Croatian roots: Crljenak Kaštelanski

Marion Podolski is an artist and a blogger at Go Hvar. She and her husband Zdravko helped organize some of our producer visits while we were in Dalmatia last April. With her permission, we are re-publishing this article, originally posted on her blog.

Kaštela is a combination of seven small towns that lie along the coast between Split and Trogir. It’s a lovely location, surrounded by vineyards and olive groves under the high mountain range of Kozjak. This used to be a popular resort for beach holidays, in the days before Split airport was built and recent travelers have tended to drive straight through here. But Kaštela looks to be coming into its own again, as the certified home of America’s Zinfandel. Crljenak wine tours, anyone? Can be combined with Game of Thrones filming locations in Kaštel Gomilica, as well as Klis fortress and Split itself!

Crljenak Kastelanski

Following the Dalmacija Wine Expo, we set out with a group of wine enthusiasts to visit the original vines, meet with local producers, and of course, taste the wines! With us were Frank Dietrich and his team from Blue Danube Wines, a major importer of Croatian wines to the U.S.A., sommelier Cliff Rames from New York, wine evangelist and author of Wines of Croatia, and Californian wine blogger Marcy Gordon. Our local experts and tireless tour leaders were gourmet chef Čedo Kovačević, and Fani Tomaš of Krolo winery. Fine company indeed!

As this was to be a tour of the Crljenak Kaštelanski growing area, I was surprised to find us setting off first over the mountains and inland towards Sinj. It all made sense, though, when we arrived at Krolo winery in Strmendolac, near Trilj in the Cetina valley. Winemaker Dražen Krolo originally comes from Kaštela, and he’s planted Crljenak in this lovely valley, probably the furthest from the sea these vines are grown!

Krolo Winery map

From the winery terrace we had a view of the vineyards around the valley. Unfortunately, on this rainy April day, we’re not tempted to walk far, just enough for some quick photos and back to the shelter of the winery where we get down to the serious business of the day – tasting the wines! In addition to their Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot wines, they also produce both a rosé and a red from Crljenak Kaštelanski. At this inland location, the Crljenak produces a lovely pale rosé, only left on the skins for a mere 10 minutes as this is a very dark grape! Light summer fruit and wild rose – beautiful! The red Crljenak is dark purple /ruby with aromatic mediterranean herbs and violets – very yummy! It’s lighter than coastal-grown Crljenaks, which is not surprising, given the hills around here. A Crljenak for every taste!

After a wonderful lunch with the Krolo family, it’s back to Kaštela on the coast and meet up with Jakša Bedalov for a trip to his vineyards way up high on the slopes of Kozjak. Winewagons take us up a very steep and exciting dirt road to the highest Crljenak vineyards, some 400 metres (1300ft) above the sea. Glorious, breathtaking views over the Kaštela region and out towards the islands. There’s a vineyard tasting room and terrace, and in summer Jakša takes tours up there to eat and drink, and enjoy the spectacular scenery. For us on a fairly grey drizzly day in April, he had a welcoming selection of rakijas and snacks. The main meal, and he is a fantastic cook, will come later in the day back at his seafront winery restaurant.

Back down at sea level, we head off to visit the Biblical Garden Stomorija. This turns out to be a lovely peaceful Botanical garden, featuring local plants and a special presentation of all the grape varieties grown in the area, including Crljenak, plus many of its relatives and clones such as Primitivo and Zinfandel. This early in the season, there’s not much so difference apparent in the growth. I’m also fascinated by a line of ancient trees by the medieval church, which are propped up on walls, and there’s a beautiful little stone carving in the drainage channel.

Folowing our peaceful interlude in the Biblical garden, we made our pilgrimage to Ivica Radunić’s vineyard to visit the original 9 vines that were identified in 2001 as genetically identical to American Zinfandel. The search for the origins of Zinfandel had pointed at Croatia for years, with so many near misses, that it just had to be around the Dalmatian coast somewhere. And finally, positive confirmation! From just a few vines in this very vineyard in Kaštela, plus a few more from Omiš, they verified that Zinfandel is the same as Crljenak Kaštelanski, a.k.a. Tribidrag or Pribidrag in other parts of Dalmatia.

So why so are there so few vines of this greatly successful American varietal remaining in its native Croatia? It’s been almost completely displaced by its even more successful offspring with Dobričić, known as Plavac mali. In fact many of the local red or black grape varieties in Dalmatia share the heritage of Crljenak. The rows of vines in the Biblical garden are pretty much all close family members.

list of grapes

Cleaning off our boots after trekking through his vineyard, it was time to visit Ivica Radunić’s traditional konoba in the old town. Where most wineries these days are all ceramic tile and stainless steel, this one has the character of a cave, with original stone walls and old barrels. We tasted some of his wines, full-bodied traditional reds, including a Crljenak. We also enjoyed a selection of rakijas, including my personal favourite, a rose rakija! Sadly not for sale.

Leaving tradition behind, we moved on to Neven Vuina’s winery to try his wines, along with a very tasty selection of snacks and homemade confections. He also makes a rosé and a red from Crljenak. The rosé is light and dry with a hint of rosehips, the red has spice and red fruit, very promising! It was all wonderful, but the big hit for many of us was the sugared orange and lemon peel. Recipes were exchanged!

Our last port of call in this superb day out in Kaštela was a return to Jakša Bedalov’s restaurant, where the table was set for dinner, and all the winemakers joined us. It was a chance to try the different Crljenak wines with food, and to talk with the producers. Jakša is indeed a fine cook (and sommelier, incidentally) and I was particularly chuffed that he thought to produce a special veggie version for me. A great day out, and many thanks to everyone involved. I shall be looking for more Crljenak wines in the future!

And finally, I understand that pronunciation of Crljenak Kaštelanski (Tsril-Yeh-nak Kash-tell-an-skee) is a big concern for English speakers. Don’t let that put you off from drinking the wine! It’s a big red, although more restrained than American Zinfandel in the fruit, owing to the different terroir and the European winemaking tradition. Interest in Zinfandel’s Croatian ancestry is increasing, along with availability of the wine in Croatia, and hopefully soon also in California!

Useful links

Bedalov winery
Krolo winery
Vuina winery on facebook
Kaštela parks – Biblical garden Stomorija
Wines of Croatia – Zinfandel in Croatia: A Sort of Homecoming
Blue Danube Wines
Balancana – Zinfandel and Kaštela wine tour
Zinfandel.org

#WineWednesday Spotlight #25: Wetzer Kékfrankos

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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.

Peter Wetzer
Peter Wetzer

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.

In the cellar
In the cellar

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 beautifully focused example of the grape.

Corrupted Mind Will Never Be Able to Experience the Full Dimension of Wine

Jelena Bulum, a wine blogger at Wine Time Experience kindly granted us permission to re-publish this article about her encounter with wine philosopher Darko Petrović.

darko petrovic
Darko Petrović Skradinjanac (BIBICh WINE CROATIA)

This is the third part of my report on Dalmacija Wine Expo 2015 and I’ll be
dedicating that to the encounter with the first wine philosopher I met in person. He was speaking so eloquently and memorably that his words went directly into my heart and made me re-consider my way of thinking about the wine.

The name of that man was Darko Petrović Skradinjanac. He was sitting at the stand of BIBICh WINE CROATIA. I approached the stand with the intention of tasting some wines and to learn a few notes about them. I had to start the conversation somehow so I asked Mr. Petrović to show me the best wine they had and consequently to give me some food suggestions. Now I know I did it all wrong.

The man didn’t seem to like my questions and he was looking at me suspiciously. Soon I realized I was not going to be given any answer, but I didn’t realize yet I would be given much more than I expected. At that moment I couldn’t possibly imagine that the two questions, which I perceive now as banal, would provoke such a complex answer which I bring you here entirely.

Let me remind you of the questions: “What is the best wine you brought at DWE 2015?” and “Which food you would pair it with?” In a good deconstructionist manner he gave me an answer which taught me that wine can only be approached with humiliation and open mind. Formal categories do not apply when it comes to wine and classical scholars will hardly be able to understand its essence unless they switch to thinking beyond the box.

Jelena listening
Me listening carefully Mr. Petrović’s flow of thoughts

Now I will give the word to the main protagonist of the story, Mr. Petrović, asking you to reflect and make conclusions for yourself:

There is lot of prejudice when it comes to wine and food pairing. The greatest
prejudice of all is that people take it for granted and as something that should necessarily be done. It is absolutely unacceptable to trivialize two great entities such as food and wine through cheap forms. If you do this you will get entrapped into the web of prejudice from which you will never get out. Instead, wine and food are two open worlds which tend to be explored by an open mind. Food, on one hand, is a natural platform which helps us maintain our energetic balance. The wine, on the other hand, is a structure which helps us process our spiritual reality. I will come to that later but it is important to remember that our empirical knowledge is completely insufficient to determine the values of these two entities.

The phenomena of wine asks for spontaneity in order to achieve the highest degree of pleasure in drinking wine. This means that empirical knowledge of wine is secondary. You don’t have to know anything about the wine to feel its impact. Moreover, the less you know about wine the more you will get affected. But only in one condition: you have to be good and honest person. Villains will never be able to experience the full dimension of wine. If this was possible, wine wouldn’t have existed. This is what I call thinking according to the wine principle.

My reflexions are fully compatible with Alen’s philosophy of wine making. His wine charisma is largely due to the fact that he got involved in the world of wine as a very young 4-year- old boy. In the origin of Alen’s approach to wine is his belief that the whole nature in itself could be concentrated in a grape berry. The attempt of conventional market to define wine using physical and chemical parameters by 99.9 % is mere prejudice.

Physical and chemical parameters are varying and ever-oscillating process which, as such, cannot be realistic because does not contain continuity. It’s just physical ever-oscillating and varying appearance. To be clear, reality is what has the continuity. Principles govern the world of phenomena.

Thus only wine principles are real which with the skills of winemaker are getting integrated into the structure of wine. Therefore, the soul of wine and the soul of winemaker make part of one and the same soul which by the principle of simultaneity or oneness preludes man to a higher level of consciousness, the purpose of their existence.

All those wine tastings and wine analysis as a definite state of wine do not actually follow the wine logic.

Then where the true nature of wine could be derived from? The true nature of wine is in your glass with 1350 wine components which have been defined by science so far and two-thirds of secret ingredients which still remain unknown. What does it mean? It means that whoever would try to reduce wine to physical and chemical categories would fall into a delusion. Wine is not a rational category and cannot be treated as such.

Just like a life on earth wine is a special gift. Life as a special gift is eternal and this eternity is innate to our souls. We cannot reach the eternity by mere reason but with wine we can. Why? Because the very moment we taste wine it twists our mind. Through transpersonal process we join the integration of conscious and unconscious and at that moment the physical laws do not apply. Suddenly, we have a feeling of connection to a larger, more meaningful reality and that’s the reason wine exists!

As Mr. Petrović told me later his thinking was inspired by Bela Hamvas, a Hungarian writer and philosopher popular among wine lovers for his short book “The Philosophy of Wine” where he praises the rare and solemn moments of life, ease, serenity etc.

#WineWednesday Spotlight #24: Rosenhof Blaufränkisch Eiswein

Photo: Matthew Gaughan
Photo: Matthew Gaughan

Contributed by Matthew Gaughan: wine blogger and educator based in Napa, CA. See Matthew’s blog Matthew’s World of Wine & Drink.
This is part two of a spotlight on Rosenhof eisweins. See the first post here.

Rosenhof Blaufränkisch Eiswein 2012

Last week I wrote about an Eiswein made from Austria’s signature grape variety, Grüner Veltliner. Even more unusually, this week I focus on another of Austria’s quality varieties: Blaufränkisch, the landlocked country’s second-most planted black grape. Eiswein from a black grape is not unheard of – I’ve tasted Eisweins made from Malbec in Argentina and Cabernet Franc in Canada – but it is uncommon.

Red wines produced from Blaufränkisch, called Lemberger in Germany and Washington, can come in a range of styles, from light and Pinot-esque to oaky, more concentrated, and Syrah-like. Whatever the style, the wine should be marked by high acidity, a bright colour, firm tannins, and red fruits. Like the Grüner Veltliner last week, I was curious to see how varietally specific the Eiswein would be.

Reinhard Haider in the vineyard. Photo: Rosenhof Winery
Reinhard Haider in the vineyard. Photo: Rosenhof Winery

The Rosenhof winery is run by a father and son team, Vinzenz and Reinhard Haider, whose family have been making wine since 1947. Despite that history, the Haiders – as with many other Austrian winemakers – do not seem overwhelmed by tradition. Their winery also encompasses a hotel and restaurant, and making Eiswein from Grüner Veltliner and Blaufränkisch certainly demonstrates a willingness to experiment. At the same time, their focus on sweet wines shows a worthy respect for the Neusiedlersee’s history of quality sweet wine production.

The Rosenhof hotel & restaurant near the winery
The Rosenhof hotel & restaurant near the winery

The Blaufränkisch Eiswein looked, smelt, and tasted like a high-quality sweet rosé: a vibrant, light, yet intense orange colour, with perfumed floral aromas of rose petals and violets and ripe red fruit aromas of cranberries, pomegranates, strawberries, and raspberries. Even though the alcohol is lower than last week’s Grüner Veltliner, the palate felt richer and fuller – a combination of the red fruits and the higher levels of sugar that haven’t been converted into alcohol.

Overall, I was extremely impressed by how the Haiders have maintained the varietal characteristics of Grüner Veltliner and Blaufränkisch while producing intensely sweet wines. The two wines are different and individual: the Grüner Veltliner’s rich, spicy quality would make it ideal with an apple crumble or strudel, while the Blaufränkisch would pair well with a strawberry shortcake. Of the two wines, I preferred the Grüner Veltliner due to its acidity more successfully balancing the sweetness, but what I most appreciated was the concentrated, expressive character of each wine – something difficult to achieve in Eiswein.

#WineWednesday Spotlight #23: Rosenhof Orion Eiswein

Photo: Matthew Gaughan
Photo: Matthew Gaughan

Contributed by Matthew Gaughan: wine blogger and educator based in Napa, CA. See Matthew’s blog Matthew’s World of Wine & Drink

Rosenhof Orion Eiswein 2012

When I first started taking wine seriously – as opposed to merely drinking it – one of the styles of wine which most intrigued me was Eiswein (or Icewine in English, it being one of the simpler German wine terms to translate). The idea of allowing grapes to freeze and the labour involved in picking those frozen grapes in the middle of the night in inhospitable conditions made the wine one to approach with respect, and even a certain amount of reverence. The high prices charged for Eiswein – necessarily so, given the time and cost of producing it – added to the intrigue: to taste one was a luxury.

Since then, I have learnt that a further challenge is to make an Eiswein that retains varietal characteristics rather than simply being a sweet wine packed full of sugar. As Eiswein is made from healthy, ripe grapes that are frozen on the vine to concentrate sugar levels, a rich, luscious sweetness can dominate. Riesling is an ideal grape to combat these challenges, due to its high acidity and complex aromas.

Frozen grapes for eiswein
Frozen grapes for eiswein

Another quality grape which can maintain high acidity into the cold winter is Grüner Veltliner. Indigenous to Austria, Grüner Veltliner has for some time been rightly fashionable for the dry whites made from the variety. These wines have a rich peppery mouthfeel, which comes naturally from the grape rather than from oak, together with an invigorating acidity.

I had previously never tasted, or seen, an Eiswein made from Grüner Veltliner, but it makes perfect sense. The sugar (the best dry whites, labelled Smaragd in Wachau, have at least 12.5% alcohol) and the naturally high acidity are ideal partners for a sweet wine.

Reinhard Haider of Rosenhof
Reinhard Haider of Rosenhof

The Rosenhof winery grow their grapes in Burgenland on the banks of the Neusiedlersee, a large lake where some of the best sweet wines in Austria are produced. Many of these wines come from grapes affected with noble rot, due to the humid conditions, so it must be a challenge to keep the grapes healthy enough that they can freeze and then be made into an Eiswein.

Their Grüner Veltliner Eiswein is called Orion, with a pretty label depicting the constellation, and it has a rich, honeyed nose, with cooked apricots and peaches, honeysuckle, orange blossom, and orange rind. It’s on the palate that the varietal characteristics become most apparent, with white pepper and ginger notes. A floral, spicy, and superb wine that’s varietally specific despite being so sweetly lush: the ultimate challenge of Eiswein successfully met. Moreover, a remarkable price at under $30 (375ml) for a high-quality Eiswein.

Coming soon: another Eiswein, but from a black grape…

#WineWednesday Spotlight #22: Reiterer Schilcher

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Despite what the date might indicate, spring doesn’t truly arrive until the sun comes out, the temperatures reach a balmy level, and everything blossoms. You can feel it in the air. Thankfully, this happens sooner than later in the Bay Area, except for the occasional patch of fog. In Austria, however, an even bigger transformation takes place. The frigid winter temperatures and bracing winds give way to rolling green hills and budding vineyards as far as the eye can see. Around this time of year I like to sit outside in the sunshine, especially with friends in the Styrian countryside.

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Styria, Austria’s second-largest federal state by geographical area, is also known as the “Green Heart of Austria”. Situated in the southeast of the country, culture here shares many similarities and traditions with neighboring Slovenia to the south and Hungary to the east. The wines of Styria are also exceptionally unique, due to a milder, more Mediterranean climate, which is trapped in the “bowl” formed by the Alps to the north. These wines, almost exclusively white varietals, possess crisp, clean acidity and a lightheartedness that make them perfect to enjoy on the terrace in the warm spring breeze.

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In keeping with truly Styrian tradition, springtime is synchronous with the opening of the Buschenschank, the small family-owned wine taverns where strict regulations ensure everything is made on site. You’ll find no coffee, cola, or beer here – only liter jugs (and sometimes towers) of homemade wine and juice, and local dishes including the signature Brettljause (brettel-yowza).
To the southwest of Graz, the Styrian capital, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s birthplace, and my second home, I discovered a hidden gem. You can’t throw a rock in Styria without hitting a Buschenschank, but the best ones are worth searching for, which brought me on a two-hour round trip drive to Buschenschank Reiterer, close to the Slovenian border.

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Styria is famous for its seasonal specialities, and in the springtime I always associate it with the seductive Schilcher (pronounced shil-hyur). This rosé is made from the indigenous varietal Blauer Wildbacher, a light red grape with acidity so high one finds it almost prickly – the ideal answer for your “skeptical-of-sweet-rosé” friend (there’s one in every crowd). One sip of this Gaumenkitzler (palate tickler) will quench your thirst in a juicy explosion across your tongue, and leave you almost instantaneously craving something fatty and salty. Say no more, your prayers have been answered. Almost on cue, the Brettljause arrives – a tree stump covered in intricate layers of salami, ham, pork loin, an assortment of cheeses and spreads, boiled eggs, pickles, and freshly-made dark bread. Schilcher and Brettljause go together like Arnie and one-liners; you can’t have one without the other. Each sip of Schilcher takes me back to a beautiful sunset descending behind the green hills, sitting perched on the stone terrace of Buschenschank Reiterer, with wooden picnic tables, delicious food, endless Schilcher, and fantastic conversation in thick country Austrian dialect. Pick up a case of Schilcher, load up on gourmet deli meats and cheeses from your local shop, and create some springtime memories of your own. Viel Spaß!

25 Things to Know About Croatian Wine

Dalmatian Coast
Vineyards along the Dalmatian Coast

Can you list 25 things that you know about Croatian wine? If you’re not sure but love the wines, Total Croatia New has compiled a fascinating list.

Here is #1:

1. Tribidrag – one of the great red noble grape varieties of the world, known as Zinfandel in California as well as Primitivo in the south of Italy, hails from Croatia, more precisely from Dalmatia, where it is known as Crljenak Kaštelanski and Pribidrag or Tribidrag. New vineyards have been planted over the past decade and the most notable producers include Bedalov and Vuina from Kašela, Mimica from Omiš, Rizman from Komarna and Stina from the Island of Brač.

and #21 features a familiar person:

Cliff Rames of WofC meets Alen Bibic of BIBICh winery to present Croatian wines in New York City.
Cliff Rames founder of Wines of Croatia and Alen Bibic of BIBICh winery.

21. Alen Bibić – of Bibich winery from Plastovo, near Skradin in Northern Dalmatia is probably the most versatile gastro & wine figure in Croatia encompassing wine production, fantastic private restaurant, great marketing skills while making some of the most expensive wines in Croatia and at the same time selling the largest portion of his production in the Unites States. Anthony Bourdain visited Bibich winery and famously proclaimed “Why, oh why, is there so much amazing wine in this country?”.

Read the whole article here.

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

Somlo Hill
Vineyards on Somló Hill

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.

Zoltan Balogh
Zoltán Balogh

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.

Kreinbacher on its lees
Kreinbacher on its lees

Speaking of acid, but without skin contact and botrytis, Somló is also home to Kreinbacher. While they do make some still wines, their overarching specialty is traditional method sparkling wines. Not surprisingly influenced by Champagne (they even use Coquard presses from Champagne), but the focus is on Furmint. They’ve also selected growers on the cooler, windier eastern slopes that aren’t often affected by botrytis. The goal is zero botrytis while focusing on the salty smoke of Somló and the acidity of Furmint. To start, we’ll be introducing the Extra Dry (16 g/l dosage) and Classic (10 g/l dosage). Between Kreinbacher, Apátsági, Fekete Béla and Spiegelberg, you can finally build that Somló section on the wine list you’ve been holding out on.

Sunset Lake Balaton
Sunset over Badcsony at Lake Balaton

Lastly, we are finally venturing into the giant Balaton region for the first time. Lake Balaton is more like a small ocean (48 miles long, 8.7 miles wide) south west of Budapest (an hour south of Somló) and has been covered in vines since the 1st Century. It’s also checkered with Volcanic Buttes that are often referred to “organ pipes.” Imagine Monument Valley or Devils Postpile covered in grapes overlooking a massive lake. It’s a stunning place to make wine and it makes sense. The lake prevents extreme weather, reflects light and heat, and provides the fish that go with the wines.

Julia Dora Molnar and mother Beata
Julia Dóra Molnar, co-owner of Csendes Dűlő and her mother Beáta

One of the 6 appellations of Balaton is called Badacsony and where we find Csendes Dűlő Szőlőbirtok. This is also the only place where the white Kéknyelű grape is grown. Along with Olaszrizling, Szürkebarát (Pinot Gris), and Hárslevelű, Beáta and Dóra (mother and daughter) farm their 3 hectares without herbicides or pesticides. Where Somló is weighty and powerful, here the wines are a refreshing counterbalance without sacrificing the volcanic-ness and typicity of the grapes. To start we will be introducing their 2013 Kéknyelű and 2013 Hárslevelű.

I hope you’ll get a chance to taste these wines soon.