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
Over at Wine Berserkers, wine lover Robert Pavlovich writes about his trip to Tokaj and his winery visits to Demeter, Majoros, and Bott. His first visit was with Demeter Zoltán: It was an honor to get a visit here as the property is immaculate, with great respect for the past and an eye toward the future. It’s rather small but maximizes its space expertly, and gives the impression that the pursuit of quality here is second to none. The 2013 Late Harvest Eszter—named after Zoltán’s daughter—was so good, it was the bottle he took home: Apricot, dates, honey aromatics are very pleasing and accessible. Effortless on the palate as well, it delivers brilliant sweetness with good complexity of fruit and acidity. Perhaps not quite as thought provoking or complex as good Aszu, which is partly due to being raised in stainless steel, and selection. However, this is just a brilliant effort and the one we took home with us. Read the rest of the visit and Robert’s tasting notes at wineberserkers.com Our next shipment from Hungary containing the 2013 vintage of Zoltán’s Late Harvest Eszter arrives in California in a few days. Stay tuned!
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!
Hurricane delays and late container planning be damned, new arrivals from Hungary, Austria and Romania have finally landed in California. From out west in Sopron and Carnuntum, down in Somló and Lake Balaton, further still to Szekszárd, heading back northeast to Tokaj, and finally all the way over to Romania’s Minis region, these wines are a validation that the farming, winemaking and understanding of terroir are getting better and better year after year. The Reds: Wetzer, Muhr-van der Niepoort, Heimann, Eszterbauer and Balla Géza Only 10 years in, but using maps from the 1840s to find the best vineyards, Peter Wetzer’s 2016 vintage is our Hungarian foil for Cru Beaujolais. It doesn’t taste like Beaujolais, but the balance of spice, earth and structure makes the same person happy. Just about an hour north in Austria’s Carnuntum, the 2015 Samt und Seide from Muhr-van Der Niepoort has more limestone than Sopron’s slate, and is proof of how reflective of terroir Blaufränkisch can be. Further south in Szeskszárd near the Croatian border, we finally have some Kadarka back in stock. Once the most planted red in Hungary and a muse to composers like Franz Liszt (Hungarian Rhapsodies…), it nearly disappeared during Communism. … Continue reading The Red, White, and Botrytized from Hungary, Austria and Romania
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
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
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.