THURSDAY NIGHT TASTING 6-8 PM:
EASTERN EUROPEAN WINE FROM BLUE DANUBE
Join us tonight for a special tasting of off-the-beaten-path wines with our friend, wine enthusiast, and recent WSET diploma holder Tara Hammond from Blue Danube. We’ll have three wines from Hungary (one via Austria) and one big red from Georgia! Plus, as always,cheese and bread from our local friends…
Since we are pouring TWO Furmint from Somló… I thought I’d share some info about both the grape and region. Furmint might be the best grape you don’t know about as it’s a particularly excellent companion to food. They tend to have high levels of acidity and dry notes of citrus, green apple, pear, minerals, and smoke.
From Furmint USA: “Furmint is a superior Hungarian white grape variety indigenous to Hungary’s Tokaj region. This particular variety has always been widespread; in fact, it has become the predominant grape in Tokaj with over 70% of all current plantings. Furmint grows vigorously, ripens late, and produces wines with powerful yet refined acidity. This varietal is also known for picking up the distinctive minerality of Tokaj’s soil, and beautifully expressing the terroir it has so perfectly adapted to over the centuries.”
Speaking of terroir… we introduce Somló (Shoam-low); Hungary’s smallest appellation and once an UNDERWATER VOLCANO. Now dormant, its slopes of ancient sea sediment, hardened lava, and basalt are home to some of Hungary’s steepest, most densely planted vineyards. Driving up to Somló from Lake Balaton, it’s like seeing an island rise up from the ocean’s horizon — nothing else around survived the retreating ocean.
“The oldest writings mentioning the wine of Somló date back to 1093 and viticulture all the way back to the Romans. Somló wines were a favorite of Queen Victoria, and insurgent Hungarian troops fighting against the Hapsburgs would salute the vineyards as they marched past at the end of the 17th century. In 1752, local laws stated that if you were found adding water to wine you could expect 25 lashings as the minimum punishment.”
TORNAI PRINCEZET FURMINT NAGY-SOMLÓ 2015
The Tornai family has been “dealing” with winemaking since 1946 on Mt. Somló. Endre Tornai, the founder, started making wine on a one acre vineyard. Today the family owns 56 acres! This is a truly modern and approachable Furmint with the typicity of the Somló mountain. Floral with a touch of minerality, it is very fine and elegant with some exciting acidity. It’s a great match to fresh salads and pasta and also ideal as an aperitif. Very drinkable and very affordable. $15
FEKETE, PINCE ARANYGEHY DULO FURMINT SOMLOI 2012
From Dandelion’s buyer Jed: “Shows Furmint’s high-alcohol side, and it’s aging beautifully. I tasted it in February and it wasn’t as burly as I remembered but much smoother on the palate and with some of the more bitter nutty and petrol-ish notes woven into harmonious balance with golden fruit, autumn leaves, and stony mineral notes. 18 months in Hungarian oak which has much more delicate effects than French or American, bringing toasty flavors. Single vineyard. Fekete Bela has retired. Apparently he was quite a guy.” $27
PFNEIZL, BIRGIT UND KATRIN’S ZWËIGLER 2016
You may remember the young and charming sisters Birgit and Katrin Pfneisl from their charming Kékfrankos Blaufränkisch which we sold last year. Birgit is responsible for the vineyards and winemaking, Katrin marketing and sales. Their grandparents fled their vineyards in Sopron to escape Communism and settled across the border in Austria. In 1993 the Pfneisl family re-acquired their Hungarian vineyards(!) and the sisters got to work. Jed says: “Light, pretty, and aromatic – juicy berry fruit with black pepper and paprika, clean finish – dangerous in the fridge.” Other fun stuff to note about this fun summertime red: heavy loam soils, stainless steel fermentation, liter bottles!, serious organic farming with native cover crops and wild fermentation… all for $16
PAPARI VALLEY SAPERAVI 2016 KHAKETI GEORGIA
The great Kakhetian terroirs of Akasheni, Gurjanni and Mukuzani intersect under the vineyards of Papari Valley. The marani (cellar) sits amidst them. I was lucky enough to visit this cellar and the wine-making family who lives there. They exude the perfect balance of modern techniques and taste with traditional methods and values. Their Saperavi is a dark red wine with rich red & black fruit and cloves. The silkiest of tannins make this wine sultry and delicious, like most things in Georgia. No synthetic herbicides, pesticides or systemic treatments are used in the vineyards. This unfiltered Saperavi was fermented in stainless steel with naturally occurring yeast and bacteria, and then moved to traditional Qvevri to add that mellow Georgian texture we all love. Drink with meat off the grill for truly joyous combo. $37