Pannon-demic Outbreak: Bott Frigyes, Wetzer, Kolonics, Apátsági and Heimann

The final container of 2018 is a coincidental snapshot of some of my favorite things happening in the region. We’ve added another Somlói tier than falls in between Fekete Béla and Apátsági with Kárloy Kolonics (I know….pronounced Kolo-nitsch). We’re finally venturing into Slovakia’s Južnoslovenská region with Bott Frigyes and we’ve finally convinced Peter Wetzer to cough up some Tokaji Furmint and single vineyard Soproni Kékfrankos. Last but not least, a new vintage of our go-to Szekszárdi Kadarka from the tireless Heimann family – a grape that I believe will be a signature red from all over Central Europe going forward. BOTT FRIGYES, Južnoslovenská, Slovakia 2017 Bott Frigyes Hárslevelű 2017 Bott Frigyes Kadarka Bott Frigyes Kékfrankos I’ve always been curious about the pre and post Trianon Treaty wine traditions of Hungary. In short, after WWI, Hungary lost around 71% of its territory to Romania, Ukraine, Czechoslovakia (Slovakia), Yugoslavia (Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia) and Austria. Over 3 million ethnic Hungarians found themselves outside of Hungary. I’m by no means treading into political/nationalism waters here, but instead focusing on the grapes and traditions that never stopped or are now coming back to life beyond the present day borders of Hungary. On the southern slopes … Continue reading Pannon-demic Outbreak: Bott Frigyes, Wetzer, Kolonics, Apátsági and Heimann

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

Pét-Nat, Charmat, Champenoise: plenty of bubbles for the Summer

Pétillant Naturel, or Pét-Nat for short, is a modern trend but its origin is not so new. Pét-Nats are made using the Méthode Ancestrale, the oldest way of making sparkling wines. It dates back to the 16th century and was invented by monks in the Limoux region in southwestern France. The wine is bottled before finishing its fermentation, allowing a second fermentation to naturally occur in the bottle using the residual sugar. The sediments are not removed and the wine is not filtered, producing a light and fizzy wine, often cloudy, due to the remaining lees and lack of filtration. Enjoy the fresh and lively Štoka Pét-Nats, White, Rosé, Red, made from the Slovenian grapes Vitovska and Teran. Méthode Champenoise produces sparkling wine by creating a second fermentation in bottle. The second fermentation is accomplished by adding a mixture of sugar and yeast to still wine. The wine is then bottled, capped, and aged on its lees for several months, which develops texture and complexity. When the wine is ready, the neck of the bottle is frozen in order to remove the sediments. The cap is removed and the frozen sediments shoot out of the pressurized bottle. In Hungary, Kreinbacher … Continue reading Pét-Nat, Charmat, Champenoise: plenty of bubbles for the Summer

#WineWednesday Spotlight #129: Apátsági Furmint

“A lot of dry Furmint is tart, lemony, and not that interesting, but this one is a revelation: it is dense and soil-expressive without sacrificing the variety’s trademark freshness,” writes the SommSelect Wine Team. Sourced from dry farmed vines growing on basalt-rich volcanic soils, the Apátsági Furmint 2015 is their Sommelier Selected Wine of the day: Today’s dry and delicious Furmint, from the tiny region of Somló in western Hungary, is the first dry Furmint we’ve offered but hardly the first one I’ve tasted—just one of the very best. It is a game changer: Lots of dry Furmint is dominated by high acidity—acidity which makes the variety so successful and ageworthy as a late-harvest sweet wine—but this one has serious depth, rich texture, and soil character reminiscent of top Alsatian whites. There’s profound minerality from Somló’s basalt-rich volcanic soils and lots of aromatic complexity. It grabbed our attention, and it deserves yours; Somló and Apátsági may be unfamiliar names now, but wines like this are going to change that. To accompany the wine, they recommend a chicken paprikash, a comforting dish with onions, tomatoes, green peppers, and fragrant with sweet or hot Hungarian paprika and sour cream. It’s a great … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #129: Apátsági Furmint

#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 #124: Patricius Dry Furmint

For blogger Steve Mirsky, Furmint is Hungary’s answer to other less mainstream white wines gaining prominence lately, such as Austria’s Grüner Veltliner. “Now is the perfect time to be a hero,” he writes, “and skip your go-to Chardonnay or Riesling.” If you’re ready to skip your usual Chardonnay for the vibrant Furmint, here is Steve’s review of the 2015 Patricius Dry Furmint from Tokaj: Patricius began purchasing first-growth classified vineyards in 1997, now totaling 346 acres. Their wine press house built over 200 years ago and then owned and operated by the Jesuits and aristocratic families, was renovated into a state-of-the-art underground winery in 2005 utilizing gravitational technology yet preserving original architectural details. It is here that winemakers showcase the local Furmint grape’s vibrant minerality and well-balanced acidity in their lineup particularly in their 2015 Dry Furmint. Harvesting begins in September, with fermentation and maturation taking place entirely in stainless steel allowing the grapes to showcase a darker refreshing mouth feel similar to cold cask conditioned ale complemented with a refreshing bite ranging from fresh apple to spring greens. Well balanced fruit with honeyed spice on the nose, its brisk even minerality sets the stage for a cleansed palate pairing … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #124: Patricius Dry Furmint

#furmintday is coming!

There is so much well deserved hype over volcanic appellations like the Canary Islands, Santorini, Sicily and so on, but Hungary and its surrounding regions in the Pannonian basin are rarely mentioned. Whether from Tokaj, Somló or Mátra (to name just a few), Furmint is an ideally suited grape for these regions’ rich volcanic soils. With naturally high acidity, ability to attain high sugar levels, and ability to find balance with botrytis, it also still carries its own flavors along with the salt, smoke and density from the volcanic soils. Furthermore, Furmint can do this vinified as dry, off dry, sparkling, oxidatively, under flor, reductively, and sweet. The second International Furmint Day is February 1st 2018. Celebrate Furmint on that day, taste it, like it, share it! #furmintday

#WineWednesday Spotlight #119: Patricius Katinka Late Harvest

Today’s #WineWednesday Spotlight is a festive contribution from our friend Michael Trainor over at @awordtothewine. Michael recently met Patricius Winemaker Peter Molnár and tasted his wines with the Blue Danube team at Night + Market Song restaurant in Silver Lake, Los Angeles. “The first thing I did when my daughter was born, I dipped my finger into Tokaj and placed a drop on Aszú on her tongue so she would know where she came from.” -Peter Molnár, Patricius Tokaj Estate Manager and Winemaker. Last month I had an amazing dinner with the best of company at Song @ntmrkt with @orshi.kiss @edanch @bluedanubewine along with Peter Molnár from @patriciustokaj. Each of Patricius wines were unique and delicious. However, the Katinka and Aszú offer a very special experience. I don’t want to sound corny and I don’t typically purport to be spiritual. For whatever reasons even just a tiny sip of Tokaji invigorates me. It’s the cure for both emotional and physical ails. These are spiritual wines and it’s important for all of us to have Tokaji on hand, for healing as well as pleasure. Celebrate the holidays with a sip of fungal gold from Peter Molnár’s magical Tokaji wines! Boldog új … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #119: Patricius Katinka Late Harvest