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Kakfrankos from Peter Wetzer

February 27, 2019 Leave a comment

I find it hard to believe I last tasted the wines of Peter Wetzer of Hungary nearly seven years ago.  At the time, I tasted the 2009 Kekfrankos or Blaufrankisch.  John (MacArthur Beverages) just brought in two newer vintages of Kekfrankos.  The 2012 Peter Wetzer, Kekfrankos Spern Steiner Sopron is from the top Spern Steiner area.  It reveals a bit more age in color but in the mouth the core of fruit is still developing complexity while maintaining a fresh, citric grip.  There is fine density to it.  Even more fresh and crisp is the 2015 Peter Wetzer, Kekfrankos Beldes Sopron.  This reveals more fruit weight yet keeps a zippy edge throughout.  While I have a slight preference for the 2012, I it is more interesting to taste the two vintages side by side.

2012 Peter Wetzer, Kekfrankos Spern Steiner Sopron – $25
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  This wine is 100% Kekfrankos fermented in open vats then aged on the lees in used barrels.  Alcohol 13%.  The cherry, garnet color reflects the bottle age.  A fine nose of black pepper and herbaceous hints.  In the mouth are rounded flavors with some density to them.  There is some complexity surrounding the core of berry fruit which is carried by watering acidity.  With air, this dry wine develops hard flavors of cherry and strawberry.  The structure leaves citric grip on the gums.  *** Now – 2024.

2015 Peter Wetzer, Kekfrankos Beldes Sopron – $25
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.Alcohol 13.5%.  A cranberry, grapey color.  In the mouth this is a lively wine, almost with spritz on the tongue, which matches the tart, red flavors and fine grapey tannins.  It has youthful heft.  With air the zippy edge remains, perhaps more of a citric edge, red and black fruits come into focus along with ground stones.  Fresh.  **(*) Now – 2023.

Chapoutier, Chante Cigale, Coudoulet de Beaucastel, and More!

Lou and I recently gathered for an evening with mature wine.  I do not believe that mature wine need be great, rather they should be complete with additional flavors from bottle age.  Most of the wines we tasted were recent purchases with several priced in the range of daily-drinkers.  The 2002 Hauth-Kerpen, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Riesling Kabinett, Mosel Saar Ruwer is one such example.  It is a rather solid wine that mixed fresh lemon and yellow fruit with just a hint of petrol in the beginning.  It was as if some of the grapes experienced botrytis.  The 1993 Chapoutier, Barbe Rac, Chateauneuf du Pape had more going on than the 1993 Coudoulet de Beaucastel, Cotes du Rhone.  Both of these wines will certainly last for years to come but the fruit in the Coudolet is almost receded.  The Chapoutier still supports flavors of fruit with its structure.   Lou immediately picked up on some TCA in the 2001 Coudoulet de Beaucastel, Cotes du Rhone.  I suspect I am less sensitive to this but I did think the Band-Aid aroma worked well with the sweaty aspect of the wine.  I would not hesitate to drink this vintage but am confident, like the 1993, it will chug along for many years to come.  For most of the evening the 1998 Domaine Chante Cigale, Chateauneuf du Pape was a small yet complete wine.  When I returned home I wanted to drink a glass of wine so I poured out the rest.  To my surprise the wine had blossomed, becoming a satisfying end to my evening.  This was not the last wine I tasted with Lou for that honor goes to the 2005 Chateau Pajzos, 5 Puttonyos, Tokaji Aszu. This bottle was a kind gift from a friend.  With clean flavors of peach and dried apricot I believe this wine will benefit from cellar age.  The acidity and residual sugar in are in balance so I would wait for the development of complexity.

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2002 Hauth-Kerpen, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Riesling Kabinett, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Imported by Valley View Wine Sales.  This wine is 100% Riesling.  Alcohol 8.5%.  The color had a youthful light straw with a yellow hint.  The nose developed fast with some funk morphing into fruit with some maturity.  There was a soft, rounded approach of lemon and yellow fruit flavors, a tangy bit, and citrus grip.  There was acidity in the beginning then a softer finish where earthy flavors came out.  The aftertaste was a bit short and left impressions of citric pithe.  *** Now.

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1993 Maison M. Chapoutier, Barbe Rac, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Paterno Imports.  This wine is 100% Grenache sourced from vines 70 years of age at the time.  The fruit was fermented in concrete tanks then aged around 16 months in vats.  Alcohol 13.8%.  The nose was fresh with reasonable complexity.  In the mouth the red fruit made way to more complexity in the midpalate before a finish of dry red and black fruit mixed with wood box.  There were very fine, dry tannins that coated the gums.  It left a solid impression but after several hours of air it had more flavor and grip, along with a little density.  Nice.  This should last but I would drink it sooner.  *** Now-2016.

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1993 Coudoulet de Beaucastel, Cotes du Rhone
Imported by Vineyard Brands.  This wine is a blend of Mourvedre, Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah which was fermented in tile-lined vats then aged in large oak barrels. Alcohol 12.5%.  There were dark red hints and scorched earth on the nose.  The flavors were brighter in the mouth.  The the wine itself had strength the flavors were more delicate.  There were mature, wood box flavors around a firm core of red fruit.  It was enlivened by salivating acidity.  With air it took on a tart lemon aspect.  Will last.  ** Now.

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2001 Coudoulet de Beaucastel, Cotes du Rhone
Imported by Vineyard Brands.    This wine is a blend of Mourvedre, Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah which was fermented in tile-lined vats then aged in large oak barrels. Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose was sweaty with a hint of band-aid.  In the mouth there were nice, firm red fruit flavors that were dry and had weight.  There was a tart red finish with lip-smacking orange citrus.  With air it became a touch rough in the back of the throat.  Though leaner in flavor it took on added complexity from minerals and black fruit.  A tart vein continued to run through it.  ***  Now-2016.

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1998 Domaine Chante Cigale, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Vieux Vins Inc.  This wine is typically a blend of 65% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, and 5% Cinsault.  Alcohol 14%.  The flavors were dense with some ripeness and gritty tannins.  There was a hint of heat.  The initial impression was of a small yet complete wine with juicy acidity that was fine for what it was.  It became rougher with air but then many hours later it blossomed.  **(*) Now-2017.

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2005 Chateau Pajzos, 5 Puttonyos, Tokaji Aszu
Imported by Country Vintner.  This wine is a blend of 38% Furmint, 27% Muscat, 19% Zeta, and 16% Harslevelu which was aged for three and a half years in 30% new Hungarian oak casks.  TA 10 /l.  RS 170 g/l. Alcohol 16.5%.  This had aromas of black tea and apricots.  In the mouth were peach flavors, dried apricot, salivating acidity, and a spicy hint in the finish.  There was a feeling of glycerin.  This is still primary and will benefit from bottle age.  **(*) Now-2024.

The Hungarian Wines of the Sauska Family

Sauska Wines was founded by Christian Sauska.  It is a family run winery involving Christian and his wife Andrea.  Christian began producing wine in the early 2000s and with a serious interest in developing the winery he employed Paul Hobbs as a consultant from 2003-2009.  In 2009 he brought on Stefano Chioccioli as consultant who has focused much attention on the indigenous varietals.  Christian produces wines using a blend of indigenous and international varietals.  The fruit is sourced from and also produced in two different locations, Tokaj in north-east Hungary and Villány  in the south-west.

Christian Sauska, Image from Sauska Wines

Christian Sauska, Image from Sauska Wines

In Tokaj, Gábor Rakaczki is the winemaker and Stefano Dini is the Vineyard Manager.  The Tokaj vineyards are the older of the two with 80% of the vineyards 15-20 years old and 20% 1-12 years old.  The older vines show more terroir so they are often used for single-vineyard wines whereas the ever-changing young vines are typically blended.  The Tokaj vineyards are actually spread across 23 sites encompassing some 70 hectares.  The vineyards are located at 160-240 meters on brown loamy soils with volcanic rocks.  The separation helps insulate against hail damage, rain, and disease but it complicates vineyard work and the harvest.  These vineyards are planted with Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Hárslevelű, Sárgamuskotály, and Pinot Noir.  The vines are trained regular cordon because the volcanic soil retains and releases heat.  Too low a training would make for dirty grapes when it rains and increase the difficulty of vineyard work.  The vineyards are farmed to reduce chemical use and to be extra careful for vineyards meant to experience botrytis.  They even employ horses in the steeper areas.   The wine is produced in a centuries old building located in the center of Tokaj.  This building is a historic monument which already had an old cellar.  Though they faced many regulations in the conversion to a winery they are now able to press the grapes above street level so they can employ gravity to move the juice to the cellar.  To help keep the cellar clean they use germicidal lamps instead of chemicals.

Volcanic Soil in Tokaj, Image from Sauska Wines

Volcanic Soil in Tokaj, Image from Sauska Wines

In Villány, Laszlo Latorczai is the winemaker and Peter Pohl is the Vineyard Manager.  The Villány vineyards  were mostly planted in 2004 and 2005 though there is one Merlot vineyard named Kopár which was planted in 1992.  They have recently planted Kadarka.  The vineyards are spread across six sites encompassing some 60 hectares.  The Villány vineyards are located at 150-300 meters on limestone, clay, and brown loam.  These vines are trained medium-high cordon though they are experimenting with Guyot.  There are also some bush vines on the higher elevation vineyards which are difficult to reach.  They employ a combination of ground cover and plowing and periodically switch them up.  The ground cover is particularly important to minimize evaporation in the steeper sites.  Sometimes they even employ straw bails.  The wine is produced at a new winery with the first vintage being 2006.  The fruit and juice from these vineyards are kept completely separate until they are fully raised.

With the indigenous varietals they use a mixture of massal and clonal selections.  In Tokaj they are working with massal selections of Furmint and in Villány clones of the indigenous Kadarka.  During the communist era many different clones of Kadarka were used because it was suitable for mass production.  They are currently studying 15 different clones together with the University of Pécs and the Heimann Family Winery in Szekszárd.  For the international varietals such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc they used French and Italian rootstock and clones.

Barrels in Tokaj Cellar, Image from Sauska Wines

Barrels in Tokaj Cellar, Image from Sauska Wines

The 2010 vintage was extremely rainy in both Villány and Tokaj so the major goal was just to save the fruit.  The 2011 vintage in Villány was well balanced with a long ripening period.  The 2012 vintage was a challenge in Villány.  Though Villány is the most Mediterranean region in Croatia the heat is uneven and dramatic.  This vintage brought intense heat which caused the young vines to suffer.  They do not use an irrigation system so the older vines with deep roots fared better.  August brings further troubles with annual storms and hail which inevitably destroys fruit.

Three of the Sauska wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.  The 2010 Sauska, Cuvee 113 seems to show its volcanic origins with stone notes in the mouth.  It was the 2012 Sauska, Villányi Rosé and the 2011 Sauska, Cuvee 13 which were  my favorite of the three.  The rosé had an attractive, vibrant color which made way to hard red fruit, chalky minerals, and texture.  This may be drunk through next year’s release.  The later Cuvee 13 featured acidity driven flavors which combined with the tannins to stick to the mouth.  I would be tempted to keep this in the cellar until winter.  Many thanks to Andrea Sauska along with Laszlo Latorczai and Gábor Rakaczki for answering my many questions and providing images for this post.

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2010 Sauska, Cuvee 113, Tokaj – $18
Imported by Opici Wines.  This wine is a blend of 60% Furmint, 17% Harslevelu, 11% Chardonnay, 9% Sauvignon Blanc, and 3% Yellow Muscat.  The fruit was fermented in stainless steel using indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation, then aged for six months in 90% stainless steel and 10% used French oak.  Alcohol 13%.  The color was a light gold straw.  The nose was very finely textured with aromas of white fruit.  In the mouth the flavors were tart at first than they became tangy with a little weight spreading throughout the mouth.  There were firm, whiter fruit which with air took on an earthy note, dried herbs, and stones.  It maintained the crisp start with lots of acidity in the throat.  ** Now – 2016.

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2012 Sauska, Villányi Rosé, Villány – $14
Imported by Opici Wines.  This wine is a blend of 50% Kekfrankos, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Merlot.  The fruit was fermented in stainless steel using indigenous yeasts then aged 1-4 months in stainless steel tanks.  Alcohol 13%.  The color was a light to medium, brilliant copper, pink, rose.  The nose was enjoyable with red fruit and some lees.  In the mouth there were lots of acidity at first then flavors of hard red fruit with chalky minerals.  There was a little weight to the fruit.  Cherry flavors came out with warmth and revealed the wine to have a more structured style.  There was a chalky, textured aftertaste.  ** Now – 2014.

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2011 Sauska, Cuvee 13, Villány – $19
Imported by Opici Wines.  This wine is a blend of 37 % Cabernet Franc, 37 % Cabernet Sauvignon, and 26 % Syrah.  The fruit was fermented in stainless steel using indigenous yeasts, underwent pump over, punch down, and delestage.  It underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged four months in a combination of stainless steel and used French oak. Alcohol 14%.  The subtle nose eventually revealed a low-lying mulberry aroma.  The initial flavors were surprisingly good with acidity driven black and red fruit causing salivation.  The firm red flavors were integrated into the firm structure which had good, grapey tannins.  All of this stuck to the inside of the lips.  The wine was tart and textured in the aftertaste.  *** Now-2018.

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We Switch from Sauternes to Tokaji

September 11, 2012 Leave a comment

We were initially underwhelmed by this wine when we first opened it. The flavors were a bit simpler than expected. The residual sugar compared to the acidity was noticeably higher than our recent experience with Sauternes. So I replaced the cork only to pull it five days later when Lou came over. Lou enjoyed a taste so I took my note on the sixth night. It was much better, showing more flavors and better balance. Instead of recommending a five day decant I suggest you revisit this wine in the same number of years. This wine was available at MacArthur Beverages.

2006 Royal Tokaji, 5 Puttonyos, Red Label, Tokaji – (500mL) $36
This wine is a blend of mostly Furmint and Harslevelu with a small amount of Muscat de Lunel which was fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel. It was aged for two and a half years in Zemplen oak. TA 10.7 g/L, RS 178 g/L, Alcohol 10%. Tasted on the sixth night, this wine had a medium-strength nose of dried and fresh apricot which stepped out of the glass. In the mouth the tangy apricot flavors mix with a body of moderate residual sugar. It turns tangy with dried fruit in the finish. There is a lovely mouthfeel to the wine with the acidity showing well. The flavors dry up in to the assertive finish which is still a little rough. This improved with air but still needs time to integrate. **(*) 2017-2037.

The Tiny Production of Peter Wetzer

September 11, 2012 Leave a comment

While John pointed out the newly arrived wines from Peter Wetzer, I imagine I would have eventually found them on my own for they do stand out with their unusual graphic labels.  In fact all of the initial information I found was related to the labels themselves.  Peter Wetzer commissioned Laszio Mihaly Naske of NLM Designs to create labels with a calligraphic theme.  For information about the wines themselves I turned to Charles Gendrot of Williams Corner Wines.

There are less than 300 cases of Peter Wetzer’s wine from the 2009 vintage. This is not surprising given that he alone handles the entire production.  He uses vineyards located in Sopron which lies in the extreme north-western portion of the country. This is an old wine region which is nestled in the foothills of the Alps. Hungary is dotted with small volcanic “plugs” as described in Decanter Magazine and Sag-Hegy is one of them.  For the white wine Peter Wetzer sources his fruit from the vineyards on the Sag-Hegy volcano which has soils of black earth, basalt, and tuffa.  Peter helps the old growers who own these vineyards with the harvest.

Sag-Hegy, Image from LiviaV (flickr)

The fruit is fermented in open containers using indigenous yeasts.  While the red wine is pure Kekfrankos (also known as Blaufrankisch) the white wine is a blend of Olaszrizling (known as Welschriesling in Austria) and Gemischter SatzGemischter Satz is a field-blend of different white varietals which are grown together in the vineyard.  As a result they are harvested and fermented together.  This is still popular for the vineyards surrounding Vienna.   The white wine is 50% whole bunch pressed and 50% macerated on the skins. They are then fermented and aged on the lees in cask for one year. There is no stirring. All of the wines are neither fined nor filtered and are bottled by gravity.  I recommend you try both of these wines but if you must pick one then grab the white Sag.  There is something about it that compels you to drink more.  But do hurry, only 50 cases were produced!  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2009 Peter Wetzer, Kekfrankos, Sopron- $22
Imported by Williams Corner Wines. This wine is 100% Kekfrankos which was racked once.  Alcohol 13%. The color is a light to medium ruby. The light nose reveals fresh white pepper along with Blaufrankisch aromas. In the mouth the fresh red fruit leaves gentle, low-lying and expanding flavors. It is lighter in body with red fruit that mixes with citrus-like tannins, and a little orange juice flavors. There are pepper flavors in the finish. There is a concentration that slowly opens over the course of an evening. Finely done. **(*) 2014-2018.

2009 Peter Wetzer, Olaszrizling, Saghegyi, Sopron – $27
Imported by Williams Corner Wines. This wine is a blend of 60% Olaszrizling and 40% Gemischter satz from 100-year-old vineyards.  Alcohol 13%. The color is a light+ straw, yellow with a subtle haze. The light nose reveals waxy, floral, and some tropical aromas. In the mouth there is a moderate honeyed mouthfeel, a little wood spice throughout along with supportive acidity. The floral/tropical notes reappear in the mouth. The aftertaste is drier leaving lots of finely textured baking spice. This wine is refreshing and very easy to drink. *** Now-2015.

Hungarian Wine Tasting, Godwin & Godwin, 3rd Feb 1993

February 3, 1993 1 comment

Hungarian Wine Tasting, Godwin & Godwin, 3rd Feb 1993

TASTING OF HUNGARIAN WINES
Presented by Godwin & Godwin of Bath

13th or 14th largest producer.  No white has oak!!

WHITE WINES

1 SOMLOI HARSLEVELU 1990 3.95 Pounds
200,000 case per year.  Grape variety Harslevelu.  Comes from some indigineous.  Not tannic, fresh age tasting, odd smell, “pushed to extreme” smooth, integrated, new private.

2 MORI LEANYKA 1990 3.74 Pounds
“Little girl.”  Very pale gold, fruity.  High in Acid.

3 MORI EZERJO 1990 3.74 Pounds
“1000 moons from Mor.”  More alcohol, less sugar, nuts at first.  Darker ever so slightly softer.

4 BADACSONYI SZURKEBARAT Lake Balaton 1989 4.11 Pounds
NO.  Volcanic soil, sand, hills, ripe grapes from water + heat reflection.  Nasty.  Sweet.  Pinot Grer…  Stay away.

RED WINES

5 TIHANY PINOT NOIR 1989 3.93 Pounds
French Style

6 TIHANY MERLOT 1989 3.87 Pounds

7 TIHANY SPATBURGUNDI 1989 4.05 Pounds
NO (Pinot Noir) Deep red with brown hints looks like port.  Unusual.  Sweet, traditional favorite.

8 VILLANYI KEK OPORTO PORTUGIESER 1989 3.99 Pounds
Very dark, cooked nuts.  Prefer over #6.

9 VILLANYI CABERNET  FRANC 1988 4.35 Pounds

10 VILLANYI CABERNET SAUVIGNON 1989 4.28 Pounds