#WineWednesday Spotlight #126: Kikelet Furmint

It’s still Furmint February and what better way to celebrate this fiery grape than with a glass of Tokaji from the region’s most gifted female winemakers, Judit Bodó from Bott, Stéphanie Berecz from Kikelet and Sarolta Bárdos from Tokaj Nobilis? See how delicious the Kikelet Furmint 2014 is, according to Charine Tan and Dr. Matthew Horkey over at Exotic Wine Travel and cited by Furmint Day in this Instagram post: “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.” http://exoticwinetravel.com/kikelet-furmint-birtokbor-tokaji-2014/ You’ll find Stéphanie’s wines, Judit’s wines and Sarolta’s wines on our webshop.

#WineWednesday Spotlight #125: Bott Határi Furmint

“I had previously had some sweet wines from Tokaj and had a sense of how good they are (though I didn’t fully appreciate how diverse and complex they can be). But I had only had a few dry wines from Tokaj–and that was my primary reason for visiting the region.” writes wine blogger John Brooks over at The WineO in a post called Tokaj: Sweet, But Not Just Sweet. His first visit was Bott Pince where he met Judit Bodó, who made a powerful impression on him. For those who have visited a number of wineries and tasted with a number of winemakers, you know that the experience you have affects your perception of wine. That rosé you drank with the winemaker on a beautiful afternoon at a harborside café in the south of France is probably not one of the world’s great wines, like it seemed at the time. So I wondered if the fact that we were so charmed by Judit made us love the wine. No worries–I’ve tasted it since I got home and still love it. While most Americans may not know the wines of Bott, insiders do–and respect them. Hungarian-Canadian master sommelier John Szabo, who … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #125: Bott Határi Furmint

Furmint February!

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!

#WineWednesday Spotlight #106: Bott Csontos Furmint

The historic Csontos vineyard—literally “strong-boned”—is a south-facing vineyard at the foothills of the oak-covered Zemplén mountains, a great protection against the cold northern winds. The soil, primarily tilled by horses, is a mix of clay and volcanic rocks, which provides spicy and mineral flavors to the Furmint grapes that Judit and József Bodó replanted a little more than 10 years ago. Judit Bodó, née Bott, ferments her Csontos Furmint slowly with native yeasts in used barrels. The result is a straw-colored wine that smells like honey, herbs and smoke. It’s mouth-filling and unctuous like an apricot compote, with just a touch of sweetness. You can find it on the menu of the recently opened San Francisco restaurant Parigo, paired with seared foie gras, warm salt and pepper cookies, and huckleberry jam. You can also find it on our webshop. Enjoy!

Meet our Women Vintners

Do you know that as many as 13 of the wineries in our current portfolio are run or co-run by women? Witnessing an increasing number of talented women involved in the wine industry on International Women’s Day is exciting. They may have taken different paths — some took over their family estate from their parents, others founded their wineries from scratch — but they are all passionate about their work. Whether they have a degree in oenology or learned the trade while working with their family, these women are making important contributions to viticulture and winemaking. In Austria, grower and winemaker Ilse Maier pioneered organic farming in Kremstal when she took over Geyerhof, the family estate, in 1986. Dorli Muhr resuscitated her family vineyards in Carnuntum and now produces some of Austria’s finest Blaufränkisch. In Tokaj, Hungary, winemakers Judit Bodó and Stéphanie Berecz founded respectively Bott and Kikelet wineries with their husbands and are now making some of the best wines of the region. In 2014, Stéphanie was awarded by her fellow winemakers the prestigious title of “winemaker of the winemakers”. Sarolta Bárdos who owns and runs Tokaj Nobilis was the winner of the prestigious award of 2012 Winemaker of … Continue reading Meet our Women Vintners

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

Beyond Bull’s Blood

San Francisco Magazine features an interesting article by John Capone in their latest March issue, exploring the diversity of Hungarian wine “Beyond Bull’s Blood”. Thanks to sommeliers and wine buyers eager to introduce “new” bottles to their customers, Hungarian wine is enjoying newfound respect on the well-vetted lists of restaurants like the Progress, Petit Crenn, Lord Stanley, Octavia, and the Slanted Door, and occupying hallowed shelf space at institutions like Bi-Rite and Bay Grape. Our Northern CA Sales Manager Eric Danch says: What’s most encouraging is that many of these wines don’t linger on lists; they move and get reordered. We’re seeing this in numbers; there’s undeniable growth. This year, we’re bringing in at least eight brand-new producers. What are the sommeliers saying? Jeff Berlin of À Côté on 2011 Fekete Béla Juhfark: “A fascinating grape that cab be rich and ripe, but always displays the (terroir) or its volcanic vineyards.” Courtney Humiston of Petit Crenn on Patricius Sparkling Brut: “…drinks dry but has enough richness to carry your meal”. Flora Gaspar of Da Flora on 2013 Vylyan Portugieser: “discreet spice, the jammy fruit backed by subtle tannins, and the slight lick of acid”. Chaylee Priete of The Slanted Door … Continue reading Beyond Bull’s Blood

New California and New Tokaj: Furmint and Hárslevelű

In the Spring of 2013 we hosted Judit and József Bodó of Hungary’s Bott Winery in California. With their giant map of the Tokaj appellation, box of soils, and rock samples, I dragged them all over the Bay Area for the usual sales gambit. In addition to all of the tastings, dinners, and semi desperate pleading with many of you for some sit down time, we also took a short trip to California wine country. The shared experiences and risks of growing grapes and making wine for a living quickly bypass the often stale formalities between strangers. Within minutes Judit and Cathy Corison were digging into gender politics of the wine business and József was on his hands and knees inspecting old vines at the Library Vineyard with Tegan Passalacqua. After their first (ever!) encounter with Mexican food, our final stop was with Steve and Jill Matthiasson. As it turns out, Jill has both Hungarian heritage and a penchant for Furmint and Hárslevelű. We tasted through the one another’s lineup, ate oranges off their tree (too cold in Tokaj for citrus), walked through the vineyards, and the Bodós attempted to hide their feverish jealously over the new Matthiasson tractor. While … Continue reading New California and New Tokaj: Furmint and 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

Adopt-a-vine

After a long chain of embarrassing late arrivals to appointments with producers and an exasperating hike up a steep snowy hillside vineyard during our visit to Tokaj this past February, my team of adventuresome Danubians – Michael Newsome (Sales LA), Henry Beylin (Gjelina – Venice Beach, CA), Matt Stinton (Terroir/Hearth – NYC, NY) and 2 of Tokaj’s most iconic producers shared a special moment together in the vineyard of Hatari. Had we been on time for our appointments, it would not have been so special. Just before, we were among Judit Bodo‘s vines in Csontos. The full moon began to rise and we left for wild pheasant soup at her house, or so I thought. But then she pulled off the bumpy road for one even rougher and icier, and rumbled us towards a man standing by a van in a giant furry Russian snow hat—which I discovered is called “ushanka”. Although it was already dark, the hat made the outline unmistakably Samuel Tinon. We were supposed to visit his vineyard earlier, but since things had gotten so late and Judit and he had been in contact, I assumed she had canceled the meeting for us. Not the case. Samuel … Continue reading Adopt-a-vine