Saturday, April 27, 2013

2011 Bott Teleki

I wish I could take a poll and find out how many of my readers in the United States are familiar with Hungarian wines.  I'm guessing that many have never had a Hungarian wine.  The unlucky of those who have tried one have probably had a bad bottle of Bull's Blood.  The fortunate ones may appreciate the wonderful botrytized wines of the Tokaj region, but likely are not familiar with the many other delicious wines of Hungary.  The Blue Danube Wine Company is working hard to change all that.  Blue Danube is an importer that is focused on the wines of Hungary, Croatia, Austria, and many other emerging wine regions in Eastern and Central Europe.  Thanks to their efforts, you can now find some of these unique and delicious wines in restaurants and retail shops in the greater New York City area where I live and in many other parts of the country. 

Within the rather small, geographic area that makes up Hungary, there is an amazing diversity of microclimates and different wine regions.  There is no disputing that the best known is Tokaj in the northeast corner of Hungary near the Slovakian border.  Tokaj has been classified as an appellation longer than Bordeaux, and the botrytized wines of Tokaj have been recognized as a top wine in Europe for centuries.  Louis XV himself referred to Tokaj as the "Wine of Kings, King of Wines" back in the 18th century.  What is interesting today is that the world is starting to discover that the Tokaj region can also produce fantastic and unique non-botrytized and dry white wines, and that brings me to today's wine. 

The 2011 Bott Teleki is made from two indigenous Hungarian varietals.  The blend is 80% Furmint and 20% Harslevelu (HARSH-leh-veh-LOO).  The bottle is in the Mosel/Alsace style and one of very few wines that I see using a glass closure.  In your glass, the wine is pale gold in color.  The bouquet is really interesting and rather complex.  It's almost Riesling like in its mix of fruit and floral notes, but its not quite as sweet smelling as Riesling.  The apple and citrus along with floral notes make for a great nose that I could just breathe in for hours.  On the palate, the fruit leans more towards white stone fruit.  Apricot and peach flavors abound, and the wine has a fantastic medium weight and mouthfeel to it that is just right.  Perfect acidity that does not overwhelm, leads to what is a really long and fantastic finish for a white wine.  

At just under $30 per bottle, this is not an everyday value, but it is a great wine for special occasions and the right food.  As I drank this, all I could think about was pairing it with my Hungarian mother's incredible roasted duck that she often serves at the holiday table.  It would also pair beautifully with other game birds or even work well for a Turkey dinner. 

If you haven't had a dry Tokaj wine, go seek one out and try it.  Also, feel free to contact the fine folks at Blue Danube Wine Company at to find out more about Hungarian wine.




Sunday, April 14, 2013

2011 Saint Cosme Cotes-du-Rhone

I am a big fan of the Southern Rhone for everyday values as well as some of the great village level wines from places like Chateauneuf du Pape, Rasteau, and Gigondas.  I first discovered Saint Cosme through their phenomenal and incredibly consistent Gigondas, and I have enjoyed many vintages of this delicious but not inexpensive (about $40 per bottle now) Grenache driven blend over the years.  It was only recently that I discovered that Saint Cosme also has a great Cotes-du-Rhone that you can take home for a little over $10/bottle.  It has quickly become one of my everyday favorites.

The 2011 Saint Cosme Cotes-du-Rhone is rather unique in that it is a Southern Rhone wine that is not Grenache based.  It is 100% Syrah, which is much more typical of the Northern Rhone.  In your glass, the wine is intense purple in color.  The nose brings aromas of blackberry, black raspberry, and black pepper along with a bit of garrigue and that almost gamy, meaty smell that most of my favorite Syrahs have.  In your mouth, this wine is very true to the nose with great blackberry fruit.  The little bit of funky game, garrigue, and mild tannins give remarkable balance and complexity to a wine that I paid less than $12 for.  This wine is a steal.

Pair this delicious and inexpensive Syrah with lamb, game, or any grilled red meats, or at $12 a bottle just sip it on its own.