#WineWednesday Spotlight #149: Tinon Dry Szamorodni

Christina Turley, Director of Sales and Marketing at Turley Wine Cellars is a fan of Hungarian wines, especially the amazing Tinon Dry Szamorodni: Hungarian wine does something to my soul, the way no other wine has ever even come close; and THIS. This. This is one of the wildest, tastiest, most profound, most bonkers wines I’ve ever had. White flowers, saddle leather, beeswax…I imagine this wine tastes like Lady Godiva’s infamous ride. The longest finish of any wine I’ve ever had, period. I’m floored. Dry Szamorodni is a traditional wine from Tokaj. The name is a Polish word that means as comes off the vine because the wine is made from whole clusters of grapes containing both healthy and botrytized berries that are harvested and fermented together. It is then slowly aged under a veil of yeast. At the end, the wine is dry, with powerful flavors of nuts and dried fruits and savory notes like mushroom and maybe also Lady Godiva’s infamous ride 🙂 We just received a shipment from Hungary with some wonderful new wines from Tokaj and other regions. Check them out. And follow what Christina Turley is tasting these days on Instagram.

#WineWednesday Spotlight #147: Demeter Zoltán Late Harvest Eszter

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!

#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

#WineWednesday Spotlight #105: Patricius Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos

When conditions are just right, nature can hold a usually nasty fungus in such check that something special happens. Instead of destroying a crop, the fungus creates grapes with incredibly concentrated flavor that can make some of the world’s sweetest, most precious wines. The fungus, Botrytis cinerea, is more affectionately known as “noble rot.” writes Anne Krebiehl, MW in the current issue of Wine Enthusiast Magazine. And the Patricius Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos 2006 is one of the best: Patricius 2006 Aszú Six Puttonyos (Tokaj); 95 points. Tantalizing aromas of apricot, bananas foster, beeswax and pineapple upside-down cake transfer seamlessly onto the palate. It then opens up further, with pronounced flavors of lemon meringue and acacia honey. The texture is luxurious, silky and voluptuous. Editors’ Choice. The wine is a sweet golden nectar, made from the best terroirs and only in exceptional vintages. Enjoy it with Foie Gras, Blue Cheese or an Apricot Tart.

Tokaj Part 2: Quality Over Quantity

This is the second article on Tokaj by Blue Danubian Eric Danch featured on GuildSomm.com. This one focuses on how a new generation is embracing the appellation’s pedigree while also improving farming and winemaking and then outlines the different wine styles of Tokaj. Tokaj-Hegyalja is the product of 20 million years of volcanic activity. This means that whether in the loess-covered south or the diverse range of rocks and clay locally called nyirok, the subsoil is largely tuff, guaranteeing that vines will struggle. Many of the most famous dűlői (crus) in the appellation are on the slopes of these formally active volcanoes, adding to their struggle with erosion, drainage, and exposure. As the aim was to supply industrial levels of production for consumption in the former USSR and the other former Bloc countries, growers quickly resorted to fertilizing, spraying heavily, and planting on the flats where large Russian-built tractors could easily operate. Vine density decreased, and famed terraces and steep sloped vineyards went fallow or were eventually consumed by the Zemplén Forest. Many forgotten vineyards are visible while driving through the region or walking up into the forest from existing sites. It’s a surreal sight. Today, producers are reverting to … Continue reading Tokaj Part 2: Quality Over Quantity

#WineWednesday #52: Spotlight on Samuel Tinon

It is Wine Wednesday and my family and I are in Tokaj, visiting Samuel and Mathilde Tinon. The day is sunny and warm, which is excellent news for the ripening of the grapes. Thanks to the rainfall we had two days ago, the soil has now the right moisture, which will allow the botrytis to develop on the berries: 2016 is going to be a good year! Samuel takes us to the famed Hatari vineyard up the hill with glasses and a bottle of dry Hatari Furmint 2015. The wine is rich and concentrated like the berries that we taste from the vines that has not been harvested yet, as they will be saved for the Aszú production. Back to the Tinons’ house, we’re greeted by Mathilde with 2 pitchers of fresh water and 2 bottles of dry and sweet Szamorodni. Both are exquisite wines with a unctuous texture and great complexity. The dry version leaves a taste of walnut and curry spices and is delicious with the pieces of Comté cheese that Mathilde has prepared. The sweet version is rich in sugar but perfectly balanced thanks to its acidity. Mathilde explains to us that sweet Tokaji shouldn’t be restricted … Continue reading #WineWednesday #52: Spotlight on Samuel Tinon

Reflections from a Final Meal in Budapest

“Munchausen, I know you Christians are judges of good wine. Here is a bottle of Tokay, the only one I possess, and I am sure that never in your life can you have tasted better.” – The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen, 1785 I was recently reflecting upon my last meal in Budapest that I happily consumed just over a week ago. Despite being fed whipped pig fat, goose cracklings, paprika laden stews, kolbász, pickled everything and so on 3-4 times a day for 11 days, I still felt compelled to order basically the same thing when finally given the chance to order for myself. I even upped the ante a bit and went right for rooster testicles and cocks comb stew with an Irsai Olivér Fröcs (aka Spritz). There was so much delicious fat, bright raw onions, smoke, garlic, paprika, and fermented flavors over the course of the dinner that it was difficult to think about drinking anything other than Hungarian wines. Maybe a volcanic Canary or Etna here or there or perhaps some Chenin or Riesling, but after you had a Tokaj Aszú with over 300 grams of residual sugar, 12 g/l total acidity and 7% alcohol that … Continue reading Reflections from a Final Meal in Budapest

Tokaj Today

In preparation for the 3rd Annual Great Tokaj Auction, Tom Gardyne of The Drinks Business, asked Eric Danch to explain the current state of Tokaji wines in the US market. Q. What’s demand like for Tokaj at present? Difficult question. It’s like asking what was the demand for Grüner Veltliner in the late 1980’s. Once people became comfortable with Austrian wine, the range of styles, and how to navigate the umlaut, it became a standard on every serious wine list. As for Tokaj, even though for the past 500 years the traditional wines like Aszú, dry Szamorodni, Sweet Szamorodni, late harvest, and Eszencia warranted the world’s first wine appellation system (over 100 years before Bordeaux), the quality dry wines are just over a decade old. That said, there is no doubt that unique grapes are planted in unique places coupled with an incredible producer renaissance. This is what’s exciting about Tokaj right now and people are taking note. We should also remember that Tokaj was once in high demand and a muse for Leo Tolstoy, Pablo Néruda, Balzac, Flaubert, Diderot, Catherine the Great, Goethe, Peter the Great, Bram Stoker, and Voltaire to name a few. No reason that kind of … Continue reading Tokaj Today

Curious & Thirsty – Magic Wine: Tokaji

After communism ended in the 1990’s, a rush of investors, both foreign and domestic, bought up vineyards with the intention of resurrecting this dormant legend. The potential in the wine was re-realized almost immediately. However, the world’s thirst for sweet wines had turned dry. A blessing in disguise, clever producers began to experiment with making dry wines. Today, it is the dry wines that offer winemakers and enthusiasts the greatest insight into the character of the specific vineyards. The volcanic Csontos vineyard In addition to the classical aszú and modern dry wines, adventuresome wine makers are reviving almost forgotten traditional styles and experimenting with new styles. What is most amazing, is that regardless of forms, the distinct signature Tokaj leaves on its wines dominate. The natural conditions in the region are so unique, nothing like Tokaji can be produced elsewhere—even with all the knowledge and technology available now. There is a Renaissance under way in Tokaji, unlike any the wine world has ever seen. It is quite possibly the most exciting place to be drinking from today. Read the full story…

Culture connections

With Sherry fest in full swing in NYC , here is an unexpected connection worth sharing. A few months ago at a Wine and Spirits magazine event, I had the pleasure of pouring the 2007 Samuel Tinon Dry Szamorodni for Sherry aficionado and Spanish chef Alex Raij of Basque restaurants Txikito and La Vara. Like dry Sherry, the distinctive character of the Szamorodni is partly derived from a veil of natural yeast—called flor in Spanish—that develops on the surface of the wine as it ages. As a special example of the maligned style of dry Szamorodni, the Tinon spoke to her. In the spring of 2014, it will be paired with a dish Chef Raij will prepare as part of a James Beard House dinner. She also recently added the Tinon to the wine list at La Vara. I find it inspiring that one of New York City’s most discerning Spanish chefs sees connections and harmony between Spanish cuisine and a little known style of Hungarian white wine. Connecting seemingly disparate cultures in this way is good. It enhances their appreciation and hopefully inspires others to see associations that are less than apparent. Tokaji and Sherry are more alike than … Continue reading Culture connections