Trade

Decanter World Wine Awards 2015 Regional Trophy: Cabernet Franc 2011 !

Decanter World Wine Awards  2015 Regional Trophy: Cabernet Franc 2011!

“Deep, layered and highly intense, with an opulent nose of cedar, sour cherry, cassis, blueberry and dark chocolate. Big, bold, seriously rich and similarly complex, the tannins are fine, silky and frame flavors of crushed mulberry, green pepper, mint, tomato leaf, cocoa, lavender and thyme.”

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International Wine Challenge 2015 Gold Medal: Cuvée 113, 2013

International Wine Challenge 2015 Gold Medal: Cuvée 113, 2013

The IWC is accepted as the world’s finest and most meticulously judged wine competition which assesses every wine blind and judges each for its faithfulness to style, region and vintage. Throughout the rigorous judging processes, each medal-winning wine is tasted on three separate occasions by at least 10 different judges, this year Tim Atkin MW, Oz Clarke, Charles Metcalfe, Sam Harrop MW and Peter McCombie MW.

http://www.internationalwinechallenge.com/

 

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Excellence in unexpected places”-Vinexpo Masterclass featuring Sauska Cabernet Franc 2011
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Decanter World Wine Awards 2015 Gold Medal: Medve Furmint 2012

Decanter World Wine Awards  2015 Gold Medal: Medve Furmint 2012

“Lovely aromas of butterscotch, oak, peach and a hint of orange lead on to a big and complex palate with oodles of rich, mineral-tinged, toasty apple, pear and stone fruit. It’s elegant and terribly well-composed, with an attractively phenolic bitterness on the mid-palate, and a crisp, long, rewarding finish.”

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Two gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze at Decanter World Wine Awards 2014!

Birtok Hárslevelű 2012 – gold medal

“The perfume is big and bold, yet feminine – spring flowers, peaches, caramel, walnuts. Fine and inviting. Lovely focused fruit on the palate, citrus peel and white peach. Full-bodied and slightly waxy, with powerful yet well-balanced alcohol and refined acidity. Clean and long finish.”

 

Sauska Merlot 2011 – gold medal

“Complex nose – violet, bramble and hint of spicy oak – with some interesting ‘foreign’ elements such as elderberry, eucalyptus and cassis. The palate is pure and concentrated, with lovely fruit intensity and freshness. Ripe strawberries and vanilla. Bright and juicy with well-handled tannic backbone. Great length.”

 

Sárgamuskotály 2013 – silver medal

“Lovely perfumed, fruity, floral Muscat notes and ripe peach – very pretty aromas. Clean but complex. Lively, fresh but rich and weighty at the same time. Bitterish (because of the variety), lingering and enjoyable.”

 

Birsalmás Furmint 2011- silver medal

“Very nutty, earthy, almost sherry notes on the nose, and a suggestion of butterscotch. Pure and perfect fruit on the palate, full-bodied and zesty. Intense but refined, with loads of freshness and a lingering finish.”

 

Kadarka 2012 – bronze medal

“Spicy crushed raspberry nose, very fruity, almost syrupy. Soft and supple palate dominated by fresh berry fruits, clean and uncomplicated yet enjoyable.”

 

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Steve Tanzer`s International Wine Cellar: 93 for Tokaj Medve Furmint!

2011 Sauska Cuvee 105

“Full, bright yellow with green highlights.  Ripe, highly complex aromas of smoke, saffron, rosemary and minerals.  Plush, sweet and concentrated but less open to inspection today than the Furmint Birsalmás, with ripe acidity keeping the wine’s smoky richness under wraps.  Finishes broad, tactile and saline, with a stony note and enticing floral lift.  This wine appears to have been bottled with more CO2 than the other dry 2011s here and showed building sweetness and richness, as well as more oakiness, with 24 hours in the recorked bottle, without losing its shape.” 90(+?)

2011 Sauska Furmint Birsalmás

“Bright medium yellow.  Aromas of fresh apricot, orange zest, cinnamon and flinty minerals.  Suave, round, broad and quite dry, with lovely extract and concentration to the smooth stone fruit, smoke, lichee, brown spice and honey flavors.  There’s an element of oiliness buffered by dusty minerality here that contributes to the wine’s density and sophistication of texture.”  Birsalmás used to be this estate’s flagship wine before they introduced the Medve bottling in 2012. “90

2011 Sauska Cuvee 107

“Light, bright yellow-gold.  Smells like a serious white Burgundy on the nose, offering scents of apricot, flowers, minerals, ginger, truffle and iodiney minerality, plus sexy oak tones that mounted with air.  Rich, broad, deep and quite dry in the mouth, with lovely minerality to the flavors of stone fruits, honey, smoke and flowers accented by brown spices and vanillin oak.  Finishes with very good sneaky length and an impression of strong extract.  I wanted to rate this superb wine even higher but the oak element became more apparent with extended aeration.  (Incidentally, I did not care for this wine a year ago at the Pannon Wine Challenge, finding it too oaky and raw.  The additional year in bottle has brought much more definition and harmoniousness, and it’s entirely possible that this wine will merit an even higher score with further aging.” 91(+?)

2012 Sauska Furmint Medve

“Full yellow-gold color gives an unfiltered appearance.  Knockout nose combines a hint of apricot, orange zest, medicinal herbs, smoke and flinty, rocky nuances; more about soil than primary fruit.  Silky, mouthfilling and rich but laid-back on the palate, with a powerful spine of rocky minerality and firm lemony acidity giving a wonderfully light touch to the intense, very dry flavors of apple, stone fruits and smoke.  This savory, tactile, extremely long wine really echoes and builds on the very long, gripping back end.  As good a wine as I’ve tasted to date from the hot, dry 2012 vintage.” 93

2003 Sauska Tokaji Aszu Essencia

Full orange-bronze.  Pours thick.  Distinctly old-style aromas of dried apricot, nut oil, molasses, hazelnut, smoke, toffee, walnut and truffle.  Thick and hugely sweet, with powerful acidity and an orange marmalade quality enlivening the creamy, saline apricot, nut and earth flavors.  Plenty of supersweet honeyed botrytis here.  (An earlier bottle showed honeyed botrytis tones and huge sweetness but was lower-toned and a bit more old-fashioned, with a higher perceptible level of volatile acidity; I scored this sample 92.

Source: Hungary`s 21st-Century Tokajis, May/June issue, #175 Steve Tanzer International Wine Cellar publication.

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Where to find Sauska wines in the UK?

Restaurants/bars

Albertine Wine Bar, London W12

Alimentum, Cambridge

Aqua Shard, London SE1

Automat, London W1

Auberge du Lac/Brocket Hall, Welwyn, Herts.

Chinese Cricket Club, London EC4

Cork & Bottle Wine Bar, London WC2

Crescent Road Café, Worthing, W Sussex

The Cross, Kenilworth, W Midlands

Dinner by Blumenthal, Knightsbridge, London SW1

The Fat Duck, Bray, Berkshire

Frederick’s, London N1

The Gay Hussar, London W1

The Greenhouse, London W1

Gymkhana, London W1

The Hind’s Head, Bray, Berkshire

Hoxton Grill, London EC2

The Jugged Hare, London EC1

Lutyens, London EC4

Mari Vanna, London SW1

The Oak Bistro, Cambridge

Olympic Cinema, London SW13

Thackeray’s Restaurant, Tunbridge Wells, Kent

Le Pied à Terre, London W1

Racine, London SW3

Restaurant Tristan, Horsham, W Sussex

The Royal Standard, Ely, Cambs.

The Sanderson Hotel, London W1

The Three Crowns, Wilsborough Green, W Sussex

Tom’s Kitchen, London SW3

 

Retailers

Eagle’s Wines, London SW11

Eton Vintners, Windsor, Berkshire

Excel Wines, online

Grapevine, Barnsley, S Yorks.

Hedonism Wines, London W1K 3LD

Theatre of Wine, London SE10 & N19

Vagabond Wines, London SW6

The Wright Wine Company, Skipton, N Yorks.

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Awards

Birtok Hárslevelű 2012 – gold medal

“The perfume is big and bold, yet feminine – spring flowers, peaches, caramel, walnuts. Fine and inviting. Lovely focused fruit on the palate, citrus peel and white peach. Full-bodied and slightly waxy, with powerful yet well-balanced alcohol and refined acidity. Clean and long finish.”

 

Sauska Merlot 2011 – gold medal

“Complex nose – violet, bramble and hint of spicy oak – with some interesting ‘foreign’ elements such as elderberry, eucalyptus and cassis. The palate is pure and concentrated, with lovely fruit intensity and freshness. Ripe strawberries and vanilla. Bright and juicy with well-handled tannic backbone. Great length.”

 

Sárgamuskotály 2013 – silver medal

“Lovely perfumed, fruity, floral Muscat notes and ripe peach – very pretty aromas. Clean but complex. Lively, fresh but rich and weighty at the same time. Bitterish (because of the variety), lingering and enjoyable.”

 

Birsalmás Furmint 2011- silver medal

“Very nutty, earthy, almost sherry notes on the nose, and a suggestion of butterscotch. Pure and perfect fruit on the palate, full-bodied and zesty. Intense but refined, with loads of freshness and a lingering finish.”

 

Kadarka 2012 – bronze medal

“Spicy crushed raspberry nose, very fruity, almost syrupy. Soft and supple palate dominated by fresh berry fruits, clean and uncomplicated yet enjoyable.”

 

 

2013

 

Regional Trophy- Best in show  (Red Hungary over £15)

 

Sauska Cuvée 5 2009, Villány

“Restrained but classy nose of black fruits, chocolate & minty tobacco. Intense & velvety with supple & grainy tannins. Good length & needs time.”

 

Silver Medal

Sauska Kadarka 2011, Villány

“Attractive brambles & raspberry ripple with hints of toast & mineral on palate. Not generously fruity but savoury & fresh.”

 

Sauska Cuvée 105  2011, Villány

“White plum, orange zest and quite a lot of toasty oak. Weighty texture well supported by creamy fruits.”

Bronze Medal

Sauska Kékfrankos 2011, Villány

“Youthful, pure cherry nose with hint of vanilla. Intense, very vivid & bright style with good concentration.”

 

 

2012

Regional Trophy- Best in show  (Red Hungary over £10)

Sauska Cabernet Franc 2008

“A lovely wine, mature and rich yet bursting with freshness and fruit. Serious, complex aromas of damson and liquorice with cedar and vanilla overtones on a spicy, smoky character with coal and coconut notes.”

 

Gold Medal

Sauska Essencia 2003, Tokaj

 

“Amazingly rich, velvety and luscious with an apricot and marmalade character. Steely, notes of raisins and walnuts and a creamy, soft, truffle finish.”
Wine Spectator 96 pont (2013)

“ A rich, sticky sweetie, tawny in character, offering a liquid mix of date, orange marmalade, butterschotch and tobacco notes that slowly give way to hints of spice and chalk. Drink now through 2035.”

 

Sauska Kékfrankos 2009, Villány

“Plum, damson and blackcurrant nose over layers of lively black cherry and bramble fruit. Fleshy, fine and leathery with hints of cloves and coffee. Good value.”

 

Silver Medal

Sauska Furmint Birsalmás –dűlő, 2010, Tokaj

“Lovely nose with complex hints of pear, acacia and quince. Rich and creamy with very good weight, elegant oily texture and lingering apricot finish.”

 

 

Bronze Medal

Sauska Cuvée 113   2010, Tokaj

“Well-evolved, faintly rich palate with honeyed peach and apricot, overlaid by toast and lemon peel aromas.”

 

Sauska Cuvée 7 2008, Villány

“Leathery with warm stewed fruits on the nose. Liquorice and lingering black fruit on the palate.”

2011
Regional Trophy – Best in show (Red Hungary over £10)

Sauska Cuvée 7 2007, Villány

“Good depth and lift on the nose, some rusticity and pepperiness. Firm acidity, sleek, minty and elegant. Touch of chocolate and a very good length.”

Gold Medal

Sauska Cuvée 11 2007, Villány

“A concentrated nose of blackfruit and wood smoke. Full flavoured on the palate displaying pure fruit with notes of strawberries, raspberries and plums. Very good value.”

Silver Medal

Sauska Cuvée 113  2009, Tokaj

“A sophisticated nose with freshly cut grass and lemon zest aromas and concentrated apple, lemon and mineral flavours.”

Bronze Medal

Sauska Tokaji Aszú 2003, Tokaj

“Marmalade and dates on the nose with intense apricot and orange on the palate.”

 

Wine Spectator 94 pont (2013)

“Rick and syrupy, with hints of  green tea and tobacco accenting apricot, date and dried mango notes that remain broad, spicy and mouth-coating through the long finish. Drink now through 2023.”

 

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Distributors

Hungary: Bortársaság,

United Kingdom: Berkmann Wine Cellars,

United States: Opici Wines,

Netherlands: Miranda Beems Wine Imports,

Russia: United Wines and Spirits Distributors

Czech Republic: Vinorum

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Sauska in the USA

New York

Via Quadronno, New York, NY

Vino Wines & Spirits New York, NY

Ambassador Wines New York, NY

Jacques Bar New York, NY

La Vid Wines New York, NY (Greenwich Village)

Martin BrothersWine&Liqueor New York, NY

Restaurant Nobu New York, NY

Vino Versity New York, NY

Vinil Wine New York, NY

Graziella`s Brooklyn, NY

Longs Wine& Liquor Brooklyn, NY

Wine at Five Rye, New York

 

New Jersey

Madame Claude Wine Jersey City, NJ

Whole Foods Paramus, NJ

Whole Foods Middletown, NJ

Wine Chateau Piscataway, NJ

Max`s Café Gloucester, NJ

Shop Rite Mercerville, NJ

The Bottle Barn Gibbstown, NJ

 

 

Connecticut

Amity Wines New Haven, CT

Adriana New Haven, CT

Barcelona New Haven, CT

Delaney`s New Haven, CT

Caseus Fromagerie & Bistro New Haven, CT

The Wine Thief New Haven, CT

Barcelona Fairfield, CT

Greenfield Liquor Shop Fairfield, CT

Harry`s Liquor Fairfield, CT

Luxe Modern Wine & Cocktail Westport, CT

Amity Wines Hamden, CT

Mount Carmel Wine and Spirits Co. Hamden, CT

Amici’s Shelton, CT

Aquaturf Club Southington, CT

Stews Wine & Spirits Norwalk, CT

Grapes Norwalk, CT

Banner Wines South Norwalk, CT

Barcelona Sono South Norwalk, CT

Barcelona Greenwich, CT

Horseneck Wine & Liquor Greenwich, CT

Barcelona West Hartford, CT

Coastal Wines & Spirits Branford, CT

Good Life Wines &Spirits Waterbury, CT

North Plain Liquors Wallingford, CT

Wallingford Wine & Spirits Co. Wallingford, CT

Jeffrey`s Milford, CT

L&E Restaurant Chester, CT

Madison Wine Exchange Madison, CT

Mountain Road Wine & Cigar Seymour, CT

Racebrook Wine & Liquor Orange, CT

Stony Hill Wines & Spirits Bethel, CT

Valley Discount Ansonia, CT

The Wine & Spirits Co. Milford, CT

The Wise Old Dog West Hartford, CT

 

Florida

Louise`s Backyard Key West, FL

Intermission Pensacola, FL

Liquor Locker Sarasota, FL

Wild Olives Wine & Cheese Santa Rosa Beach, FL

 

Illinois

Embeya Chicago, IL

Waldorf Astoria Chicago, IL

 

Washington

Cleveland Park Wines Washington DC

Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor Washington DC

Cork & Fork Washington DC

Potenza Wine Store Washington DC

Roadman`s Discount Drugs Washington DC

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Press

Cuvee 5 2011 Selection Tasting Notes by Christopher Burr MW, October 2015
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Sauska wines tasting notes by Christopher Burr MW.

http://www.winesofa.eu/articles/lets-put-furmint-in-its-rightful-place

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Douglas Blyde compares the culinary and wine delights of the Fat Duck and Fera at Claridge’s

24/06/2014 | Douglas Blyde

Fera

 

Occurring within days, I was lucky enough to experience arguably two of England’s finest chefs calibrate dishes to complement complex ferment from noble estates. These were served in the presence of two of the trade’s most celebrated raconteurs.

“The Fat Duck” surrendered their sixteenth-century dining room of 42 covers (attended to by no fewer than 43 chefs) for an evening hosted by Hugh Johnson OBE of the Royal Tokaji Company, while “Fera” at Claridge’s was the just-beautified, art deco setting for a more intimate lunch for 12 hosted by Dom Pérignon’s chef de cave, Richard Geoffroy. Johnson founded Royal Tokaji in 1990 – the same year Geoffroy begun his authorship of Dom Pérignon.

Johnson, wine author, wine historian and tree expert, established Royal Tokaji to revive and celebrate the wines of arguably history’s most distinguished – and first – controlled wine appellation. In preparation for dinner, the Fat Duck’s head chef, Johnny Lake visited Hungary, first admiring a plethora of pickles at Nagycsarnok, Budapest’s central covered market, before journeying north-east to remote Tokaji. There, his sampling included 2013 Tokaji Aszu, which he described as: “just the beginning stages…”

Fera at Claridge’s

Creating culinary delights at Fera at Claridge’s

At Claridge’s, where I recently helped present Jeff Koons’ “balloon venus” sarcophagus  concealing a bottle of Dom Pérignon to potential investors, head chef Simon Rogan revealed he took three weeks to develop a menu to match the newly-released 1998 Plenitude 2. An impressive effort considering this restaurant had at the time, only open to the public for a few weeks. However, the lunch had actually been “16 years in the making”, said Geoffroy, referring to the harvest.

In addition to the traditional release, Plenitude, which replaces “Oenothèque”, sees wines kept back by the house, matured, actively, on lees, and released, cyclically in three stages. These are comparable to “adolescence” (Plenitude), “early manhood” (Plenitude 2) and, finally, the “prime of life” (Plenitude 3), according to Champagne scribe, Michael Edwards. “It’s goodbye to world of Oenothèque and hello to Plenitude,” said Geoffroy.

While Fera is one of London’s newest and most high-profile openings, The Fat Duck, holder of three Michelin stars since 1995, is scheduled to temporarily shut in March 2015 for a near wholesale six-month relocation to Australia during which time the inn will be refurbished. I last dined within its age-bumpy walls in 2009, feeling some dishes, complete with accompanying spectacle, were too far from food to be enjoyable, nor dovetail with the fine wines brought by my friend, Will Gau, Director of Wine for events firm, Cellar Society. The menu has increased financially in the subsequent five years some £40 above the £20 that inflation allows (from £125 to £195). In that time, while Blumenthal’s London restaurant, “Dinner” has ascended to fifth position in the latest Restaurant Magazine’s World’s 50 Best awards, The Fat Duck plummeted to 47th place (number two in 2009).

However, tonight’s menu, which had to comply with so much albeit freshly-bevelled sugar in the majority of wines that Royal Tokaji’s Managing Director, Charlie Mount half-jokingly asked guests if there “were diabetics present”, felt more wholesome than my previous encounter. “There’s a different sound to a room high on sugar rather than alcohol,” confided Mount.

Gone, for tonight, was Blumenthal’s perhaps negatively acidic Red Cabbage Gazpacho with Pommery Grain Mustard Ice Cream in favour of Lake’s scallops in almond milk with dark chocolate, served with particularly mineral, 2008 Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos, Nyulaszo (apparently favoured by our Queen). This dish, unfortunately, was unique in evoking a gentle dodgem car crash which made me sympathise for the demise of the shellfish. Indeed it made me think that the chef was adhering too closely to the Fat Duck’s motto, “question everything”.

However, bearing similarity to Dinner by Heston Blumenthal’s 14th century “rice and flesh”, saffron risotto with lamb sweetbread and an addition of complementary Roquefort (providing positive mould in dairy with that of the ferment) was a good match – even in colour – to heatwave (2003) Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos, Mézes Mály. This comes from one of only two Tokaji vineyards classed as a Great 1st growth from 1700.

The most wine-friendly dish at the Duck overall was braised pork belly with hispy cabbage and a chilled glass vial of black truffle and bacon dashi. The latter was Lake’s way of bringing obvious originality to an otherwise normal-seeming plate of food. How tiring constant reinvention must be. This was served with the meal’s only concessions to red wine, a bright, late-ripening 2011 Kékfrankos and once experimental but now rested, softly tannic 2002 Cabernet Franc from Hungarian producer, Sauska in Villány, 140 miles south of Budapest. Owner, Christian Sauska (also present with wife, Andrea, a former travel writer) revealed how he built his fortune: on the development and sales of UV light-cleansing technology.

Easily the most beautiful dish, already a staple on the menu, Botrytis Cinerea proved a dazzling, convincing depiction of a nobly-rotten grape cluster, served with 2008 Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos, Betsek (an expression of which was apparently served to President Putin in St Petersburg) and 2005 Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos, Szent Tamás (Decanter described the 1993 as one of the top 100 wines in the world that “you should drink before you die”). Finally, another new dish by Lake, was Tokaji Brioche with Essencia Glaze (served with 2003 Tokaji Essencia, replete with just 2% alcohol but a tumultuous 510 g/l of residual sugar) with ice cream which saw “pálinka brandy running through it,” said Lake. I must admit my palate was, by now, shattered by such a wealth of unctuous, voluptuous, cashmere-textured wines.

Throughout the long evening (return taxis left for London at 1am), Johnson spoke eloquently, describing how he discovered the “snow white” fungus in the “region’s secret, its cellars,” which are “as soft as a squirrel’s tail.” Thank goodness for this witty gentleman’s visionary streak in reifying an amber-coloured dream.

“Fera” (“wild” in Latin) builds on Simon Rogan’s two Michelin-starred restaurant, L’Enclume in Cumbrian village Cartmel, which was joined by Rogan & Co, and The Pig & Whistle, a clever two-year pop-up in London, Roganic, and The French in Manchester (opened in spring 2013).

Often referred to as “dramatic” by critics, the dining room’s tree was, for me, its least appealing feature. British designer, Guy Oliver has otherwise elegantly modernised and brightened a once frumpy cocoon beloved by habitué, Barbara Cartland (who loved Dover Sole according to then chef, Adam Byatt – now at Trinity). I particularly liked the glamorous new bar, lined by photographs by Claridge’s “fashion artist in residence”, David Downton. Although one initially went to Turkish restaurant, “Fora” near Liverpool Street (which does not serve Dom Pérignon), a clutch of sommeliers from The Ledbury, The Square, and Marcus Wareing began with Dom Pérignon 2004 alongside Willow water from the Lake District. Compared to last year, at launch, the wine felt more dilated today. “Expansion is the word, vertically, laterally and horizontally: it’s very textured,” said Geoffroy, calling all to attention.

In a more concise version of the former Amaryllis room, a stylish, but somewhat studious private dining room (considering the wooden walls and green leather mats), Geoffroy appraised the ‘#1998 Plenitude 2. “Although harmony is overused,” said Geoffroy, the wine showed complete and complex unity of “energy, intensity and precision.”

A preened, onion bhaji-like sphere of stewed rabbit with smoked lardo and DayGlo green, bitter lovage emulsion, brought forward the wine’s sharper boundaries. Next, tartare of veal and oyster with smoked cauliflower, gooseberry and anise-like cicely evoked a hint of the wine’s “ozone”. The next dish was the best by far for me: new seasons’ carrots unearthed from Rogan’s own farm, with shallot and carrot sauces. Maximising the flavours of the carrots – “a rival now to asparagus, which have been blindly revered for too long” said one sommelier – urged the wine’s vegetal elements.

Next, attacked with a British-made, Sri Lankan-sourced deer-horn knife, rich dry-aged hogget with sweetbreads brought out the wine’s umami without trouncing its nuances. Desserts of ice cream of pineapple “weed” (apparently a plant best found on a hard-packed gravel driveway) with butterscotch and celery, then nearly Turkish-seeming combination, sheep’s yoghurt mousse with black cherries and Douglas fir were not sweet enough to flaw the fizz – nor, alas, to deliver a true sense of a richly rewarding destination for the meal’s culmination.

Overall, the meal featured much brightly-coloured and brightly-flavoured purées, and, overall, a super-savoury feel, confirming Rogan’s dearth of appreciation for sweetness – an approach which overall, complimented the versatile wine. Indeed, Geoffroy challenged the sommeliers present, “Is there a drink as versatile as DP?” No one quite managed an effective counter, although one came close with lightly-aged Japanese whisky. I thought about offering the answer, Willow sparkling water.

I asked Geoffroy why he chose to hold the lunch at Fera. “Not only is Rogan on top of his art, but a great human being: down to earth, yet sophisticated…”

Geoffroy appeared less prescriptive regarding food and wine matches today than at previous launches. “Years ago I was anxious to keep control, but recently I am more relaxed; one has to realise chefs are very talented.” Rogan, he said, “revolves around the wine.” If dish and wine do not exactly synchronise, that imperfection brings character. “Being technically perfect works against emotion,” said Geoffroy, adding: “an element of imperfection can be so moving.”

Plenitude, which may reach its peak in 30-40 years time, becoming “more magnified”, said Geoffroy, is perhaps the closest Dom Pérignon has come to a “super-brand”. However, the particularly patiently-produced wine beyond a subtle, felt-like label, retains more finesse in my opinion compared to super-premium expressions from other houses, where shiny, dense-packaging might provide the bling of vanity over sanity of sapidity. Geoffroy appears to agree. “A super-blend would kill the brand.”

While cutlery at The Fat Duck seemed sometimes clumsy in the direction of precise dishes (Hugh Johnson wished for chopsticks), that at Fera, including British-made modern classics by David Mellor and Studio William, felt more balanced: complete eating tools.

Both meals over, with a little time now for reflection, I wondered, did I prefer a certain chef’s touch? Perhaps a somewhat cruel question considering their style’s varied as much as the wines. However, although I thought The Fat Duck had matured into a more settling shape since my last visit, I must admit to finding Rogan’s treatment of vegetables frankly enchanting.

Rarely have I found such joy in a vegetable dish that I then tried (in vain) to recreate it. However, Blumenthal remains a greater gifter of sweetness, his puddings desirable even when the greatest pudding is arguably present in the luscious Furmint decadently swirling in the glass. Being gluttonous for hedonism, I would love therefore, one day, to see both chefs, and all three producers, unite their energies…

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WORLD-CLASS WINES IN A LITTLE-KNOWN CORNER OF EUROPE? YUP.

 · by  · in BudapestFun activitiesTravel.

Field Notes From Fatherhood

When people think of Hungary they probably don’t think about wine. Any familiarity with Hungarian wine generally comes from the bottoms of supermarket shelves, where acrid and awful ‘Bull’s Blood’ gathers dust as fodder for the disappointed bargain-hunter or the penniless wino.

But Hungary makes fantastic – even world-class and award-winning – wine. Tokaji (or Tokaj, or Tokay) is a legendary sweet wine made in the north-east of the country, and it routinely sweeps up medals at international wine competitions. For example, in 2004 in the prestigious VinAgora international wine competition, Hungary took 7 of the top 10 spots in the sweet wine category. Called “the king of wines and the wine of kings” by Louis XIV, to this day the Latin version of the phrase – Vinum regum, rex vinorum – is allowed to appear on Tokaji bottles of particular quality.

But it’s in the sub-Mediterranean south of the country, in the wine regionVillány-Siklós (pronounced VEE-line SHE-closhe), that many of the country’s blockbuster reds are produced. Here long, hot summers produce reds bursting with fruit and high in both tannins and alcohol, meaning that many should be cellared for 6-8 years before they really come into their own. Of course the 30 or so top winemakers of the region also produce more approachable wines, and it’s the small scale and approachability of the area itself that makes it so pleasant to visit.

Square in the village

Square in the village

The village of Villány(population 2,517) can be explored on foot in a matter of an hour or two. Lovely white-washed cellars line the main streets, and pretty much every single one of them offers tastings. There’s a tremendous range of quality and price – everything from wine in two-liter plastic bottles that sells for next to nothing to major, high-tech wineries producing outstanding wines with a price to match.

Sign for one of the, ah, lesser-known winemakers in town

Sign for one of the, ah, lesser-known winemakers in town

For our 15th wedding anniversary my wife surprised me with a romantic weekend in Villány (I knew we were going somewhere, I just didn’t know where – she told me to get in the car and drive). Since we were only there for the weekend and could go tasting only Saturday afternoon, she had arranged visits to two very reliable, high-quality vineyards.

 

Vylyan is one of the region’s largest producers, but it’s still  relatively small, with 125 hectares of grapes (compare that to say, Australia’s Rosemount Estate, which has over 1,700 hectares under cultivation – more than the entire Villány-Siklós wine region, which has a total of roughly 1,450 hectares of vines. California’s Napa Valley has 17,401.)

 

lavender and vylyan

Set on a hill overlooking sweeping vineyards, Vylyan makes a handful of whites and a rosé (all of which are tasty, particularly the Herka Chardonnay), but it’s the big, muscly reds that really stand out. We took our tasting outside on the terrace, while electric green lizards scuttled along the stone walls and birds and butterflies flitted about the gardens.

 

One of the favorites from our tasting was the Pinot Noir, a clean and elegant take on the grape with loads of strawberry and cherry notes. The Duennium cuvée, Vylyan’s flagship red, is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon hand-selected from the best vineyards and made in only the very best years. The 2006 is packed with dark forest fruits, backed by, as the website describes “caramel, tobacco and creamy chocolate mousse.” Delicious.

They’re happy to pack a picnic for you, and we took a big basket of cheeses, salamis, and crusty bread out into the vineyards, spread a blanket, and simply enjoyed the scenery. The blue National Hiking Route cuts right through Vylyan, and they encourage hikers to taste and tasters to hike. There’s also a playground for kids, so they can run around in the shade of towering walnut trees while you sip in peace.

 

Our second stop was at Sauska (prounounced Shaushka), a place that exploded on the Villány scene less than ten years ago, making outstanding wines right out of the gate.

The story of Christian Sauska is as interesting as his wine. Born not far from Villány, he emigrated to the US in the early 1970′s (speaking almost no English at the time) and after working odd jobs that included being a garbage collector in Massachusetts, landed an assembly line position at an architectural lighting firm. Within eight years he had worked his way up the ladder (while going to night school to achieve both a BS in engineering and an MBA) to become vice-president of the company, which he eventually bought, becoming owner and CEO of Light Sources, Inc., and a gazillionaire in the process. If Hollywood had come up with this script of the American Dream, critics would have bashed it for being implausible.

Returning to Hungary, Sauska obviously poured a great deal of his hard-earned cash into both the making of his wines and his wine-making facilities, which are state-of-the-art not only by Villány but by any standards. The restaurant (they source much of their produce from their own organic gardens) and tasting spaces are simply stunning. Incorporating traditional elements of wood and brick with contemporary design, they’ve created a look that is homey and avant-garde at the same time. We sat on the massive outside terrace, surrounded by flower gardens and vineyards that climb up the slope of Villány’s highest peak, the barren limestone Szársomlyó, and our sommelier talked us through our selections.

Terrace at Sauska

Terrace at Sauska

The whites come mostly from Sauska’s vineyards in Tokaj, and despite both reluctance and resentment on the part of many wine-makers of the region (We’ve been doing things the same way for 600 years, why change now?), he brought innovation (including blending traditional Hungarian grapes such as Hárslevelű and Furmint with international varieties like Sauvignon blanc and Chardonnay) and modern technology that turn out head-turning whites unlike anything you’ve tasted before.

Their reds from Villány-Siklós are what really knock your socks off, though. The Bordeaux-style Cuvée 11, a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, is very, very nice, with aromas of red cherry and violets. Their other reds are fantastic, and it seems that  Cabernet Franc has found a new home in Villány, with Sauska’s 2009 Cab Franc sending my wife near-orgasmic, meaning that we picked up a couple of bottles despite a somewhat hefty price tag.

 

Here’s a small sample of other well-known and respected wineries in Villány:GereTiffanBockZoltan GünzerPolgar; and Malatinszky.

Where to Stay:

Part of the spa at Gere

Part of the spa at Gere

We stayed at the Gere Crocus Wine and Wellness Hotel, a relatively new boutique hotel with a wonderful spa and fabulous restaurant. The spa is a great place to sweat and soak yourself to purity after a day of wine tasting. Rooms are comfortable, the staff welcoming, and the food divine.

On the terrace at Halasi

On the terrace at Halasi

Next door to Gere Crocus is another stunning new addition, Halasi Pince, done up in rustic style but elegant and refined at the same time. Fantastic food and gorgeous guest rooms.

Both Halasi and Gere Crocus are located right in the center of the village. Check outTripadvisor and Booking.com for further listings.

Apart from hardcore oenophiles, Villány probably isn’t a place most people would fly halfway around the world to visit – the vast majority of visitors to Hungary don’t even make it out of the capital – but if you are in Budapest it’s a great side trip. It’s only a couple hours’ drive from the city, and it’s definitely worth tacking another day or two onto your itinerary. Cheers! Or as they say in these parts – Egészségedre!

http://fieldnotesfromfatherhood.com/2013/07/11/world-class-wines-in-a-little-known-corner-of-europe-yup/

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DWWA 2013 International Trophies: Red Bordeaux Varietal Over £15

by Caroline Gilby MW / September 5, 2013

This year’s winner of the Decanter World Wine Awards International Trophy for the Best in Show Red Bordeaux Varietal Over £15 went to Sauska, Cuvée 5, Villány 2009, Hungary.

http://www.decanter.com/dwwa/dwwa-coverage/584305/dwwa-2013-international-trophies-red-bordeaux-varietal-over-15#AYe9QsCAMzX5dHY8.99 

 

 

DWWA 2013 International Trophies, Sauska Cuvée 5
Sauska, Cuvée 5, Villány, Hungary 2009 (15%)
Lovely black fruit definition to classy aromas of chocolate and minty tobacco. Very peppery with a good sweet, ripe middle, cassis and inky, iodine notes. Intense and velvety with supple, elegant tannins and a long finish.

UK £74.50; BWC

Tasted against • Aurelius, St-Emilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux, France 2010 • Baron Edmond de Rothschild, Château Clarke, Listrac-Médoc, Bordeaux, France 2009 • Cavit, Quattro Vicariati, Trentino Superiore, Italy 2009 • Kristanˇciˇc, Pavó Rdeˇce, Brda, Primorska, Slovenia 2009 • Constantia Glen, Three, Constantia, South Africa 2009 • Spring Mountain Vineyard, Elivette, Napa Valley, California, USA 2010 • Tidswell Wines, Jennifer Cabernet Sauvignon, Limestone Coast, South Australia 2010 • Vistamar, Sepia Reserva Merlot, Maipó Valley, Chile 2011 • RJ Viñedos, Joffré e Hijas Premium Merlot, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina 2006

Hungary’s first International Trophy win is an impressive one. The higher priced Red Bordeaux varietal category is always hard-fought. A runnerup in this category last year, it’s Sauska’s time to shine.

This International Trophy follows two consecutive Regional Trophies for Christian Sauska’s eponymous winery, and each for a different wine. Sauska left Hungary in 1970 via a refugee camp in Italy, and escaped to the USA without a cent to work his way up from the factory floor, eventually heading a high-tech lighting company. Today he splits his time between the USA and Hungary, keeping a close interest in his winery and following the work of his young winemaking team of László Latorczai and Ildikó Markó.

This year, it is the flagship Cuvée 5 that wins the ultimate accolade – a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Sauska explains: ‘This wine is not associated with any specific vineyard or blend. It is based on our winemakers’ decision about what is best that year.’

In 2009 the vineyards were damaged by hail and rainstorms three times. Markó says: ‘Since it is always a small production, we don’t really focus on the business aspect: just taste, blend, fight, taste, blend, and fight some more, until finally everybody is happy.’

Caroline Gilby MW

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The Hungarian Wines of the Sauska Family

by Aaron Nix-Gomez / June 24, 2013
http://hogsheadwine.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/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.

Sauska1

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.

Sauska2

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.

Sauska3

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.

Sauska4

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KADARKA: DIVERSITY & VALUE

by Peter Csizmadia-Honigh / June 09.3013.
http://borvilag.com/2013/06/09/kadarka-diversity-value/

A week ago now that I made a whirlwind trip to Szekszárd in Hungary in order to attend and speak at the first Kadarka Roundtable, a forum dedicated to the Hungarian indigenous grape variety producing a lighter style of red wine. Though the variety is assumed to originate from either what is today’s Montenegro and Albania or from Turkey, it is regarded to be uniquely Hungarian. As such, it will come as no surprise that Kadarka stirs emotions high among winemakers, who tend to be a passionate bunch anyway. Especially when it is about the style and expression of the terroir of their own estate. However, I argue they need to step out of their own shadow and see the issue of individual identity within the context of regional and varietal perspective if they want to be successful in the future.

The national acerage of Kadarka has dramatically decreased over the past almost 60 years from over 55,000 hectares to only 660 today, which accounts for approx. 2% of all vineyards in Hungary. The loss of huge quantities, often grown in Soviet type coops, should not be regretted. It has often, though not always, paved the way for improving quality as a result of smaller estates and their attention to the detail in vineyard husbandry.

Despite the miniscule portion of Kadarka, there are four major growing regions in Hungary: Eger and Szekszárd in the hilly ranges of the North and South-west; Hajós-Baja and Kunság on the Great Plain. There were Kadarka producers from what is today’s Southern Slovakia, South-West Romania and Northern Serbia too. Such a dispersion of Kadarka vineyards is surely a factor behind the diversity of expressions that is obvious when you taste from over three dozen producers, as we did at the Roundtable.

In addition to regional variance, there is the grape itself. It boasts of a large number of clones, which often result in fundamentally different flavour profiles. In fact, there had been such a huge array of expression, from the very light and fruity, via the light and spicy right through to the deep, tannic and weighty; that the University of Pécs started to conduct a more than thorough research into clonal variation of Kadarka in association with other national research bodies and, of course, producers from Szekszárd and Villány.

János Werner, a PhD student at the university, provided participants of the Roundtable with an excellent snapshot of the findings. It has now been established that some clones, such as Olasz Kadarka and Mészi Kadarka, are in fact not clones, but different varieties.

As György Pernesz from the National Bureau of Food-chain Safety explained, in cases where sufficient amelographic evidence, including DNA tests, has been established to show the varietal difference; a new name has to be given for the variety. The aim is to ensure that consumers are given unambiguous information about what they purchase.

So what happens to those Kadarka clones that are in fact different vareities? Current EU regulations will allow for the new variety to be called Olaszkadar rather than Olasz Kadarka, because the two words are merged into one and there is at least a two-letter difference in the spelling. Whether this is going to be as effective for the consumer to understand the difference remains to be seen.

It will also be fascinating to see over the coming years and, maybe, decades how vintners turn the newly found knowledge about this ancient variety to their benefit. Potentially the research findings can cause frictions or even fractions. Some winemakers use large quantities of, or sometimes solely rely on varieties that are not regarded as Kadarka anymore. What will they do? How will they reinvent their identity and, most importantly, how effectively will they be able to promote their newly found varieties on the market?

Others who now know that they have Kadarka clones in their vineyards are not that much better off either. They need to make decisions now, which will seeve through to the consumers and show results probably in 5 to 10 years the earliest.

Yet, there seems to be a narrowly focussed debate on varietal identity, which has been hijacked by the clones. I am fortunate enough to have been able to taste the seven (P9, P122, P123, P124, P147, P167, P173) different clones microvinifed by Ildikó Markó of Sauska winery in Villány. Actually, I tasted the 2011 and 2012 vintages too. In my next piece of writing, I shall ponder over the differences that Kadarka clones show.

For now, let me just conclude on the roundtable. It was great to see that so many vintners gave up a working day in order to taste, think and debate together. There was a great deal of honest and frank talk in the room. What is now needed is a strategy that will embrace diversity, but provide a common message for the market. I am positive that it will happen, even if it will not be the easiest of projects.

 

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Hungarian Wine

by Amy Ullman / 2013

http://www.wineforrookies.com/wine-regions/old-world-wine/hungarian-wine

If there is one wine for which Hungary is famous, it would be the sweet wines of Tokaj. Although they are undeniably delicious, rich and honeyed with a lovely wild high toned acidity, the dry wines of Hungary are even more deserving of attention. The typical international varieties (Cabernet Sauvignonand FrancMerlotSauvignon BlancChardonnay,etc.) are super here, but it is  the indigenous varieties that are worth knowing.

 

Whites: (also check it out on “That’s a Thing?!”)

 

  • Furmint: The dominant grape in Hungary is well known for the production of Tokaji, the Botrytised sweet wine for which Hungary is famous. It also, however, produces stellar dry and sparkling wines
  • Hárslevelu: This grape means linden leaf inHungarian, which speaks volumes about this delicately floral little grape. It is often blended with Furmint for both dry and Botrytized sweet wines.
  • Irsai Oliver: A cross of even more obscure indigenous varieties, possesses a muscat-esque panache….and it’s just fun to say!
  • Juhfark: No, You Fark! Oh sorry! We got carried away. This little gem, literally means sheeps tail, andproduces the rich, fiery wines from the Somlo region.

 

Reds: (You can also read this same content onobscurities.)

 

  • Kadarka: Hungary’s most widely planted grape prior to World War II, is sadly a bit of rarity today. We hope to see an upswing in production as traditional winemaking techniques have made a resurgence throughout the country. It posesses the freshness of Beaujolais with a darker fruit and little more tannic bite.
  • Kékfrancos: See Blaufrankisch below. When made well, this wine’s naturally high acidity underscores loads of brambly blue and black fruit, and a sweet pepper spice.
  • Kékoportó: AKA Blauer Portugeiser in Germany and Austria, or simply Portugieser. The name is a bit of a misnomer as it has nothing to do with Port or Portugal, but the Kék prefix, meaning “blue,” is definitely indicative of the blue fruits which are indicative of this variety. This variety can produce super high yields, but often at the expense of quality, so keep your eyes peeled for good producers.

Regions of note (you don’t need to know all 20 – most of them are not really available stateside just yet).

  • Somlo: This region is known for it’s fiery whites. What gives these bold beauties their bluster? Volcanic soil, high winds and an abundance of sunshine. Juhfark thrives here as do Furmint and Harslevelu. Top notch producers from the Somlo include Fekerte Bela, Spiegelberg and Gyorgykovacs Imre.
  • Villany: One of Hungary’s largest region offers both a climate (Medierranean) and soil (loess and Limestone) that allows a wide variety of grapes, both indigenous and international, to thrive here. Favorite producers: Malatinszky, Bock, Csanyi, Attilla Gere and Sauska*
  • Eger: Home of the famous”Bull’s Blood” (Egri Bikaver). Don’t let the harsh moniker fool you – it is not named for the flavor profile, but rather a local legend. Turkish soldiers besieged the town of Eger in the late 16th century, and the Hungarian troops were greatly outnumbered. Despite the odds the Hungarian troops reigned victorious over the Turks, crediting their victory to the local vino that they had mixed with bulls blood. OK, maybe that still is not that appealing. Whatever, the bottom line is that these Kékfrancos driven blends are rich, velvetty and delicious. Best producers: Tibor Gal, Demeter, St Andrea, Monarchia.
  • Tokaj: The wines which made this region famous, are made from botrytised  Furmint, Harslevelu and Yellow Muscat. These wines are storied, honeyed and beautiful. This wine is also making an increasing number of delicious dry white (think turbo charged Pinot Grigio). Top producers: Gizella, Sauska*, Royal Tokaj, Demeter, and Disznókő.

 

Eager to learn more, check out some of these Hungarian Wine Resources:

 

 

*In the interest of full-disclosure, we are personal friends of Sauska. However, we will let the wines (and their numerous Decanter awards) speak for themselves.

describe the image
 

The 22 wine regions of Hungary:
1 Sopron, 2 Nagy-Somló, 3 Zala, 4 Balatonfelvidék, 5 Badacsony,
6 Balatonfüred-Csopak, 7 Balatonboglár, 8 Pannonhalma, 9 Mór, 10 Etyek-Buda,
11 Neszmély, 12 Tolna, 13 Szekszárd, 14 Pécs, 15 Villány,
16 Hajós-Baja, 17 Kunság, 18 Csongrád, 19 Mátra, 20 Eger, 21 Bükk, 22 Tokaj

 

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Benito’s Wine Reviews: Sauska Wines of Hungary

FRIDAY, MARCH 22, 2013

http://wine-by-benito.blogspot.hu/2013/03/sauska-wines-of-hungary.html

Hungarian wines occupy a special place in my heart. So few make their way to this little river city in Tennessee, yet the traditions go back thousands of years and bear the weight of emperors and popes, cloaked in a language isolate that is only related to Finnish and Mongolian. However, it is equally fascinating to try the wines of Sauska, founded in 2006 by Christian Sauska. These wines are imported via Opici Wines in the United States. While I didn’t have to be sold too much further on any of these bottles the fact that the various cuvées are named after prime numbers (to signify the uniqueness of each blend) warmed my mathematician heart. 7, 11, 107, & 113 are represented here, though there are others in the portfolio. Yes, I often look at dates or license plates or other strings of digits and try to determine if the number is prime, or a factor of primes, or a square or other significant number. Force of habit.

The red wines are aged in French oak (combination stainless steel and oak for the whites). The reds that I review here are pure French grapes (genetically, not by soil), while the whites are mostly Hungarian natives with French grape additions. At first, I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t getting some pure Kadarka and other Magyar reds, but was happily surprised by the quality and aging of the blends.

2010 Sauska Birsalmás Furmint
Tokaj, Hungary
100% Furmint
$45, 13.5% abv.
1,400 bottles made

Birsalmás is a vineyard in Mád, a region that produces some Tokaji-style wines without the actual designation. Furmint is, of course, a major ingredient in the botrytis-infected sweet wine, and is the most widely planted grape in Hungary. Rich aroma with notes of apricot, honey, and vanilla. Dry but tart and the flavor has a slight dried fruit edge to it. Highly recommended with a spicy chicken dish, as I did with some Vietnamese food.

2010 Sauska Cuvée 113
Hungary
60% Furmint, 17% Hárslevelű, 11% Chardonnay, 9% Sauvignon Blanc, 2% Muscat
$27, 13% abv.
20,000 bottles made

Floral apricots and peach with firm acidity and a bright yellow apple flavor. Nicely tart and the primary grapes make me start thinking about Tokaji. Golden straw color and the only wine of the group to come with a screwcap.

2009 Sauska Cuvée 107
Hungary
51% Hárslevelű, 49% Chardonnay
$58, 14.5% abv.
1,800 bottles made

Peach and a touch of butterscotch on the nose with some floral undertones. Dry but full-bodied with a deep white fruit flavor: overripe peach, a little pineapple. Firm acidity and a very long finish.

2008 Sauska Cuvée 7 Villány
Villány, Hungary
47% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc, 10% Syrah
$58, 15% abv.
16,000 bottles made

Coffee and spice on top, with deep, dark plum flavors. Firm acidity for a red and a firm tannic finish. Very Bordeaux-like, though also unlike similar California Meritage blends. I found it to be a perfect companion to my recent lunch of  lamb chops and colcannon.

2008 Sauska Cuvée 11
Villány, Hungary
40% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon
$40, 15% abv.
40,000 bottles made

Light and mild with aromas of red cherry and violets. Mellow and relaxing with a delicate, soft finish. More left bank Bordeaux in presentation. I found this one to be perfectly aged and ready now for consumption with mild fare like braised pork or veal.

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Benito’s Wine Reviews: 2011 Sauska Kadarka

TUESDAY, APRIL 16, 2013

http://wine-by-benito.blogspot.hu/2013/04/2011-sauska-kadarka.html

After my recent review of some winesfrom Sauska in Hungary, I got a note back from Andi & Christian Sauska. They saw my brief mention about the lack of Kadarka in the sample lineup (I wasn’t complaining!), and while that wine is not currently available in the United States they offered to send me a bottle. I was more than happy to give it a pour.

I first had Kadarka as one of the blending grapes in Egri Bikavér, the famous “Bull’s Blood of Eger”, but I’ve never had it on its own. The grape is most commonly associated with Hungary but is also grown in Bulgaria and other nearby countries. It’s not as popular as it once was in Hungary, but I think it’s still worth a search for any wine lover with a sense of adventure. There’s more to the world of wine than Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon!

The Hungarian wine industry suffered in both production and reputation during the long years behind the Iron Curtain, but the past two decades have seen a resurgence of traditional quality winemaking. So many Americans are wary of Eastern European wines, but if they would just taste a great Tokaji or Kékfrankos, you’d see Hungarian wines on lists throughout the US.

2011 Sauska Kadarka
Ördög-árok, Villány, Hungary
100% Kadarka
14.5% abv.

Kadarka is a troublesome grape that is prone to disease, and its finicky nature and mild body inspire obvious connections with Pinot Noir. This one has a lovely bluish-purple hue in the glass, with a very mild plum aroma with light hints of cedar. The body is gentle with bright pomegranate flavors and an easy, mellow finish. Medium tannins and an overall forward fruit persona without being tart or sweet. I enjoyed it with smoked brisket and pork shoulder, and found that it was a great accompaniment to the traditional southern fare.

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Food & Wine in Villany

by Chelsea Newsom, Sept 3, 2012.

http://smalldays.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/food-wine-in-villany/

It’s September now, but it’s still hot as the dog days in Hungary.  I’ve been tailing Sauska’s staff in the vineyards, lab, and cellars in Villany, gathering up information and knowledge as I go. Thanks to them, in the short week I’ve spent here I’ve already learned a great deal about the processes involved in growing grapes and turning those grapes into wine. Still, I’m continuously surprised–and a bit overwhelmed–but how much more there is to learn.

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This is a great place to be for learning about winemaking in Hungary, partly because Sauska’s Villany winery is so different from most other wineries in the region; you can tell they’re on the edge of something special. The facilities are very clean,  the winemaking technology, equipment, and laboratory are all state-of-the-art, and the tasting room is elegantly modern. Most of its permanent staff are graduates of university-evel oenological programs, and all are passionate about what they are doing here. In the lab, Ildi and her interns, Kristi and Petra, test pre-harvested grapes daily for sugar content, pH, acid levels, and color levels, both to indicate the optimal time to harvest each grape and with the eventual goal of building up a database of information that will collect these statistics for each varietal and vintage in order to see whatever patterns and changes may occur over the years. This is important, both because Sauska is a young winery and is still getting to know its grapes and because, though Hungary has been producing wine for hundreds of years, it doesn’t yet have the luxury of the centuries of harvest records that some other winemaking countries like France have access to, for a variety of political, historical and cultural reasons. This makes it all the more exciting to delve into the specifics of this place, its varietals, and its winemaking styles, and to watch as a small piece of history is harvested.

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Villany, which boasts a warm Meditteranean climate for most of the year, is renowned in Hungary for producing great red wines. Sauska Villany consequently focuses on a number of warm-weather red varietals including Cabernet Franc, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, merlot, and local varietals kadarka, kekfrancos, and portugieser. A few whites and cooler-weather reds like chardonnay and pinot noir are also grown here, though to less fanfare than the reds. Most of the reds are “pre-harvested” in early Autumn (or, in this year’s case, late summer) to be prepared for Sauska’s highly popular Rosé Cuvée, a bright, summery blend of several different reds that’s usually ready to go by Christmas. The fruit that isn’t harvested remains on the vine for a second, later harvest, after which the grapes will be made into single-varietal wines or blended into one of a handful of the high-quality Cuvées Sauska releases each year. This extra time on the vine allows the fruit to mature more fully, so that the sugars and acids in the juice, the tannins in the skin, and the phenols in the seed are in better balance with each other than they were at the time of pre-harvest. More mature grapes produce more complex wines, which is one reason why Sauska’s Cuvées are so delicious and satisfying to drink.

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I arrived on the scene just in time to catch some of the pre-harvest action. Harvest is a busy time at any winery, but this year’s harvest has gotten off to an especially hectic start for Sauska and wineries throughout the Villany region. The summer was long, hot, and exceedingly dry, and the grapes have felt the heat. Many have begun to shrivel as their vines pull much-needed water from the fruit and as a result the sugars have begun to concentrate in each grape, in some cases before the rest of the fruit is truly ripe. High sugar content produces a jammy, candied taste that isn’t usually desirable for high-quality wine (jammy grapes lack the acidity to balance out their sweetness, a problem that can lead to a flabby wine with no finish), and Sauska’s winemakers and vineyard managers have been left some difficult decisions about whether to harvest the fruit before it becomes too shriveled or sunburnt, or to leave it on the vine for another few weeks in hopes of cooler weather, rain, and ripening. This year several varietals, including pinot, merlot, kadarka, and chardonnay, have been pre-harvested earlier than usual as a result of the extra-long summer, and the winery’s entire harvest is expected to be completed much earlier than it has been in years past. This isn’t to say the wine from this year’s vintage will be any less wonderful than Sauska’s wine from previous vintages; it will surely reflect the summer’s challenges in certain, as-yet-unseen ways, but it will remain familiar, delicious, and expressive both of the varietals, Villany, and Sauska. Based on my daily samplings of the juices and wines that are currently fermenting in the cellar, and thanks to Lutzy’s and the rest of the team’s hard work and expertise, I think these grapes are already headed in the right direction.

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I should add that hasn’t been all work and sweat in Villany. I had plenty of time to hop around to a few of the other local wineries in town, to try some glasses  that one would be hard-pressed to find in the States (for the most part, and for the time being, it’s uncommon to see any Hungarian wine other than Tokaj or possibly Furmint in the States). I was also lucky enough to visit Sauska’s barrel room with Lutzy, to taste several past vintages of Merlot straight from their oak barrels. We did side-by-side comparisons of the Merlots based on vineyard and kind of barrel; it was incredible to taste how much of a difference the make and flavor of the oak could have on the same wine, from the same grapes and the same vineyard; a barrel of Merlot from the Siklos vineyard, aging in a barrel from a particular French cooper, might be smokier and linger longer than its neighbor, from the same vineyard but in a barrel from a different cooper. In addition to tasting plenty of delicious wine at all stages of production, I was also extremely fortunate to enjoy a private brunch made by the tasting room’s head chef, Gergo. The meal was an unexpected seven courses of expertly prepared local ingredients: tomato bruschetta, with tomatoes from the winery’s garden; quail eggs from Gergo’s home, served on toast with shaved black truffle; Hungarian melon and Mangalitsa prusciutto; tomato and cucumber gazpacho with Stilton croutons; Pan-fried quail with garden vegetables, and pan-fried Mangalitsa chops with homegrown blue potatoes, both of which paired excellently with Sauska’s red Cuvée 7; and a very Shwabbian dessert of hand-rolled, sweet-and-savory nudels, which are a kind of Hungarian gnocchi, fried and served with homemade nectarine syrup. By the end, I was absolutely stuffed and blown away, and convinced that Gergo’s cooking is reason enough for a visit to Villany. (Shwabb, by the way, is a term for Hungarians of German descent; there are many in the Villany region.)

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Now I’m in Budapest for another night before being whisked away to Tokaj, a white wine region in the North famous for its sweet wines. I’m looking forward to seeing how those cooler-weather grapes have fared in the scorching weather of the past few months, and to learning what I can from Sauska’s Tokaj team. Based on my experiences in Hungary so far, it’s bound to be interesting and, above all, tasty!

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Introduction to Hungary

by Chelsea Newsom / Aug 27. 2012.
http://smalldays.wordpress.com/2012/08/27/introduction-to-hungary/

Iceland has come and gone; the Brooklyn that came after it has come and gone. I’ve hopped across the sea again and stepped down in Hungary for a three-week-long internship with Sauska Winery. I began in Budapest, Hungary’s enduring and eclectic capital, but I will spend the next couple of weeks at Sauska’s two rural wineries before returning to Budapest for the Wine Festival in mid-September. I’ve only been here three days, but my head is already cluttered with the things I’ve seen, the things I’ve learned, the things I want to share.

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Budapest has more residents than the whole of Iceland. It has buildings that look older than War, their intricate, elegant facades standing cheek-to-cheek with the flat-faced cement buildings of the Communist era. The city has been torn down and built up dozens of times over the last thousand years and its hard-won grittiness shows through the cracks and stains of even its prettiest buildings, most of which are remnants of older, more difficult times and which belie the influence of various foreign aesthetics, from Gothic and Turkish to Baroque and Historicist. I spent my days there trying to absorb the city’s beauty and its gently buzzing energy as best I could. In spite of the unseasonal and unwelcome heat, in spite of some initially profound jet lag, and thanks to the Sauska family’s warmth and graciousness, I think I did well. I met a few of the Sauska staff, including my lovely host, Stefie Sauska, and her father and Sauska Winery founder, Christian. I slept in a towering, hundred-year-old apartment building that could easily be mistaken for a castle, nestled on a tall hedge near the Citadella on the Buda side of the city. I ran along the Danube and later stuffed myself silly with homemade pastries and chocolates on an incredibly generous and extensive tour of the Gerbaud sweets factory and coffee house. I ate too well, and was lucky enough to try some native Mangalitsa pork chops and goose foie gras at Gerbaud’s Onyx restaurant in Pest. I drank more Hungarian wine than I had ever even seen in the States, which I can no longer understand because Hungarian wine is delicious and should be available everywhere. I visited a museum of contemporary Hungarian art, which, like Hungarian wine, is seemingly on the verge of leaping onto the international radar. I explored the Terror House, a depressing but edifying museum for the victims of the Nazi and Communist eras in Hungary. I capped it all off with a glass of wine just steps away from St. Stephen’s Basilica, which is achingly lovely at night. I spent only two days in Budapest, but they were full and filling and I will soon return for more.

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I’m in Villany now (pronounced “Vee-line”), the larger of Sauska’s two wineries. I drove up with Stefie this afternoon, through southern Hungary’s rolling, sunburnt countryside. I met Ildiko, the master of the wine lab here in Villany, and the three of us drank fizzy elderflower sodas in the main tasting room. Later I helped Ildy take the temperatures of the Portuguieser and Pinot Noir that have just begun to ferment in Sauska’s huge stainless steel vats. After the first fermentation is complete the wine will be relocated to oak barrels for a second fermentation and aging, but all Sauska wine starts its life as thick, musky juice in stainless steel. This was the first time I’d seen grapes actually, actively being turned into wine, though really all I saw was the pulpy, juicy mass of dark-red berries and skins that floats to the top of the vat, capping off the juice and wine that swims below. I felt inordinately exhilarated to see the glossy sheen on the unexpected mass of fruit, and suddenly every question I’d ever had about winemaking came gushing back to me. Of course, Ildy had an answer for each of them.

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After we took the temperature of the vats and tested the progress of their fermentation with an impressive and highly sophisticated machine, Ildy took me to the room where yeast and yeast supplements are stored and showed me how to concoct a nutrient-blend to feed to the yeast in each vat, based on the machine’s measurements of reducing sugar, the vats’ temperatures, and other measurements. I was surprised to learn that each varietal of grape receives a different kind of commercial yeast; there is a special yeast for Syrah, just as there is for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and so on. Ildy explained to me how the nutrient blends they feed to these yeasts help modern winemakers take much of the guesswork and finger-crossing out of winemaking; it reduces the chances of a bad or spoiled fermentation. She was careful to add that these nutrient supplements are perfectly natural; they’re the same supplements that are fed to the yeasts used in organic wines, and they essentially replicate the role that grape leaves play in natural, on-the-vine fermentation. In other words, when grapes are left to ferment on the vine, the yeasts that convert their sugars into alcohol draw important nutrients and amino acids from the leaves they grow on; in winemaking, grape leaves aren’t usually included to ferment with the fruit, so the yeast often needs a nutrient boost.

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We drove out to one of Sauska’s vineyards after we’d finished in the lab, so Ildy could check on the Chardonnay and Syrah berries she plans to harvest tomorrow. The weather was quickly turning  from scorching to blustery, and Ildy predicted a much-belated rainstorm for the evening. The vineyards here are gorgeous; rows and rows of vines carpeting the hillsides, their spindly limbs heavy with ripening, perfectly-clustered fruit. I was amazed to hear Ildy explain how different the soil can be between a pair of plantings that grow just yards apart from each other; I’m familiar withterroir, the idea that a wine draws its flavor profile from the characteristics of the earth its grapes grow in, but I don’t think I realized how incredibly specific it could become. The angle of the sunlight, the presence or absence of rocks, the slightest slope of the land–all of this affects the plants, the grapes, the wine. I was amazed at how different the same kind of grape could taste when pulled from neighboring rows of plants, and equally amazed at how accurately Ildy’s palate could pick up on even the most subtle of differences, most of which would have gone unnoticed by me. The Chardonnay grapes were in excellent shape, she assured me, aside from a handful that were sunburnt or unripe or whose leaves showed signs of a virus. The Syrah plantings were more complicated; one set was far too sugary and would likely have to be harvested weeks earlier than Ildy had anticipated, due in large part to the incredibly hot and dry summer Hungary has experienced; another was set to be harvested tomorrow, while its neighboring row would be left on the vine to be harvested later, for the upcoming Rosé blend. As Ildy voiced her observations and concerns regarding each set of plantings, I became aware of the incredible number of decisions a winemaker or viticulturist must be responsible for and the seemingly unending permutations of what the end wine could taste like based on these decisions.

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I know I have a lot more to learn, and I am eager to get started. For tonight, though, I am content to settle in to the big yellow country house in which the Sauskas have set me up. Sauska vines surround me, many of them already emptied of their Portugieser fruit. It’s raining outside and I’ve thrown the empty house’s great wooden shutters open to let in the cool stormy air. I can see Croatia from the road outside, so close I think I could touch it if I stretched far enough. But that’s another trip; today is for Hungary.

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(A note on pronunciation: in Hungarian, “S” is pronounced “Sh,” so Sauska is \”Shauw-shka”)

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The Essence of Wine: Peaches

by Alder Yarrow / July .18.2012
http://www.vinography.com/archives/2012/07/the_essence_of_wine_peaches.html

 

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Image © 2012 Leigh Beisch

 

Few flavors so fully speak of summer as the delightfully juicy sweetness of peaches. Long prized for their sensuous skin and delicate flavors, and revered for the vitality shown by blossoms that emerge before the tree has leaves, the fruit was the natural food of Chinese deities for millennia, each bite guaranteeing the gods their continued immortality. Carried back along the Silk Road, peaches later flourished in Persia, where enterprising princes likely first bred the fuzz right off their backs. Peaches, nectarines and apricots, with flavors ranging from delicate rose petal to tangy, almost citrus sweetness, can be evoked by some of the world’s most compelling wines. Classically associated with grapes like Viognier and Gewürztraminer, peach and especially apricot flavors can appear in many white wines, especially those that are the product of the fungal magic known as botrytis cinerea. Creeping into vineyards under the cover of fog, botrytis concentrates sugars and often seems to open doors to rooms filled with the yellow-fleshed fruits of summer. Some wines, though, seem to need no encouragement to burst forth with their peachy flavors, as anyone who has ever encountered a Condrieu can attest. No matter how some wines end up tasting of peaches, there’s little denying that they offer a measure of the same pleasure on the palate, which for many is simply pure gold. 

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Gary Vaynerchuk talks on VinCE2012

Gary Vaynerchuk / March 27. 2012
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Cy-POXvbPM

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Regional Trophy / Red over £ 10: Sauska Cuvée 7, Villány 2007

by Caroline Gilby MW
Decanter Awards Special/October 2011

Villány has long had pride of place in Hungary as the “go to” region for top red wines, but this Trophy winner clearly shows that the regions best are truly world class.

Christian Sauska`s eponymous winery only made its first vintage in 2006, but attention to every possible detail shows through in its impressively sleek, beautifully balanced wines. Sauska is a Hungarian ex-pat who made his money in high-tech lighting in the US before deciding to follow his passion for wine back to his roots; Villany is the closest wine region to the village where he was born.

Cabernet Franc is the buzz grape in Villány and plays a key-role in this not-quite Bordeaux blend, making up 21% of the wine with 42% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 11% Syrah. Readers may wonder if the world needs another Cabernet-based blend; the answer is clearly yes when it`s as thrilling as this Trophy –combining the intense fruit purity of New World regions as well as the sense of place of more traditional European origins.

Sauska has recruited a youn winemaking and viticultural team. There`s not a leaf out of the place in the vineyards, and in the winery is everything about rigorous fruit selection by hand, natural yeast ferments and as little intervention as possible. As winemaker Laszlo Latorczai says: “ It`s about caring, sensitive winemaking with a strong focus on expressing the pure Villlany terroir instead of thinking in trends, beliefs or misbeliefs.“

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Hungarian taste

by Caroline Gilby MW
www.harpers.co.uk
November 5 2010 / Harpers Wine & Spirit

“A new generation of winegrowers have sprung up in Hungary. Here eastern European wine expert Caroline Gilby MW picks out eight producers looking to break into the UK market…”

 

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Innovation in Hungary

by Bruce Sanderson
Wine Spectator online | www.winespectator.com
May 30, 2008

In my 15 years with Wine Spectator, I have often heard rumblings about improvements in the quality of the wines of Eastern Europe. Most of my tastings of these wines over that period proved disappointing. However, one area has moved forward by leaps and bounds (thanks in large part to foreign investment): Hungary’s Tokaj region. Today, there are many excellent producers of this unique dessert wine.

What about the rest of Hungary? I recently tasted some reds from the Villány appellation, notably from Attila Gere (Cabernet Sauvignon Villány 2003, 88 points, $28) and József Bock (Villány Bock Cuvée 1999, 88, $48), which were distinctive and full of sweet fruit. Villány is one of the premier red wine areas of Hungary. It features mountains for protection from the cold eastern winds and limestone and marl soils ideal for growing vines.

Now, Paul Hobbs, who makes wine in California and through a partnership in Argentina and has consulted in California, Chile and Argentina, is bringing his expertise to Hungary. Hobbs has teamed up with Hungarian national and entrepreneur Christian Sauska to make white wines from Tokaj under the Arvay label and reds from Villány called Sauska. There is also a range of late-harvest and aszú wines made by Janus Árvay.

The Tokaj operation consists of 198 acres of white grapes. Additional Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc grapes are purchased from growers, with the viticulture under control of the Arvay team. Hobbs has been developing a range of dry wines from the region. The Furmint Tokaji Szent Tamas 2007, already in bottle, carries the Tokaj appellation because it is an approved grape variety for the region. A vineyard-designated white (Szent Tamás), it displays light oak spice and honey notes with good underlying structure and a long, minerally finish.
Since the project is new, investment in new barrels was necessary, but Hobbs was careful not to overwhelm the Furmint, which is sensitive to oak. Thus, 500-liter barrels were used, with only a small percentage of new oak and only for five months, after which the wine was put into stainless steel.

Since Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay aren’t approved grape varieties for the Tokaj appellation, they carry the Zempléni name, after the local hills.

The Sauvignon Blanc Zempléni 2007, also bottled, offers a rich, soft profile, with melon, peach and honey flavors, bordering on tropical fruit flavors. It is full and round, with a salty tang on the finish. Hobbs wanted more acidity and admitted the grapes were picked too late, saying “It’s a work in progress.” Future versions of this wine are likely to have more structure.
The two Chardonnays, from different areas, reveal distinctive characters. These were barrel samples, which will be bottled in June. The Chardonnay Zempléni Tolcsva 2007 was creamy, with peach flavor accented by spice and butterscotch. Underlying it all was a taut structure. The Chardonnay Zempléni Sarospatak 2007 exhibited more new oak character (both were fermented in 100 percent new French oak), butter and spice components. It’s a more flamboyant version.

We talked about the Sarospatak being more California in style while the Tolcsva is more Burgundian. Regardless, both wines were made in the same fashion, so the differences are from the vineyards.

As good as the whites are, I was more impressed with the reds. The Sauska Villány Kadarka 2006 was light and peppery, with mild tannins. It’s an easy drinking red from one of Hungary’s indigenous grapes.

The Sauska Siklósi Cuvée 2006, a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, offered a lovely spicy perfume reminiscent of cardamom with ripe fruit tinged with chocolate.
The “big boys” were designated on the label as T1 for “Tier One.” The grapes for this range are selected from the best blocks of vineyards, which there are currently 148 acres owned by Sauska in the Villányi region. The Merlot Villányi T1 2006 revealed dark, lush blackberry and plum in a smooth, balanced profile. The Cabernet Franc T1 2006 was less fleshy than the Merlot, but more aromatic. Cassis, black cherry and hints of herb and licorice filled its ripe frame.

The Villányi Cuvée T1 2006 is the same blend as the Siklósi Cuvée, selected from the best vineyard blocks. Ripe and supple, yet with a firm structure, it showed a more chewy texture than the others in the T1 range and flavors of black cherry, black currant, licorice and spice. The Kadarka was already in bottle; the others will be bottled in June.

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Hungary`s Red Revolution

by Caroline Gilby MW
www.wine-pages.com
March 2009

(.) The brand new Sauska winery is also impressive – the young team are being helped by a Californian Amanda McPhee and have every winemaking toy at their disposal. A team of workers even selects fruit berry by berry to avoid tiny pieces of stem and the resulting wines are certainly beautifully polished – Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay and a surprisingly stylish Kadarka came out best and will only gain depth as the vines mature.(.)

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