Heaven’s Gates: Tokaj, Hungary

Binding the Tokaj wine region with Budapest in one trip could be compared to a perfectly arranged dinner – you receive an exciting appetizer, which intrigues just a tad, and then you wait for the main course that nurtures a slight tremor to your senses’ core. The final class of the WSET Diploma study was completed with visits to the Disznoko and Szepsy wineries, the giants of Tokaji wines. Their best creations, bursting of botrytis flavours, explained why iconic Tokaji wines have been a privilege and a definition for diversity in the wine world for centuries.

At first glance, Tokaj, this epochal region, does not give off any meticulous charm; you’re driving along the road surrounded by meadows and gentle hills, without any fascinating landscapes, monuments, unusually planted vineyards. But after a few minutes, spontaneously and almost imperceptibly, the thought hits you – this area has an amazing history of independence, economic meltdown, historic intrigue and phoenix winemaking, in which the verb to give up does not exist.

Tokaj, Hungary’s wine region located in the northeast of the country, is so highly respected that it even managed to get a spot in the national anthem, in which the people give gratitude to God for providing them with this sweet vineyard nectar (Tokaj szölövesszein nektárt csepegtettél). No wonder, because once you try liquid gold, reasons become irrelevant. All that matters is that unwavering pleasure that lasts and lasts and lasts… Continue reading “Heaven’s Gates: Tokaj, Hungary”

5 Wines to Keep on Your Travel Radar for 2016

Last month, the Prowein International Trade Fair for Wine and Spirits, the largest in Europe, was held in Dusseldorf, Germany. Some 52,000 visitors, 6,000 exhibitors, and 1,000 journalists from 47 countries came to the industry-only event. Even for people that make a living from wine, arriving at the gates of this fair for the first time feels a bit like Frodo in front Mordor; you get a jolt of excitement mixed with pure bliss and a hint of anxiety. Rows and rows of exhibition halls stretch in every direction, displaying every type of vino imaginable: European, New World classics, and exotic destinations such as Bolivia and Lebanon.

My task to readers—as a wine shop owner, sommelier, and devotee of reds and whites—was to find the five wines across the planet that travelers should keep their eyes on this coming year. The results of that mission are below. I hope your discovery of these wines adds special meaning to your journeys this year.

Colio Estate Prism Vidal Icewine 2013
Lake Erie, North Shore, Canada

Canada is COLD. Living there for six years, I completely understand why Canadians are famous for their luscious icewines, better known as “liquid gold.” Producing since 1985, Ontario proves, year in year out, why it has ideal conditions for these types of wines: warm summers to ripen the grapes and cold winters to leave them on the vines until late January for temperatures of 17.6 degrees Fahrenheit or lower in order to fully concentrate the juices and flavors and get a beverage with high sugars and low alcohol. Awarded gold at the 2015 National Wine Awards of Canada, Vidal’s icewine lives up to this reward fully. Putting my nose inside the glass was like putting it in a jar of granny’s apricot jam—fresh, fruity and sweet. On the palate, it’s pure syrup, with notes of orange zest, ripe nectarine, dripping honey and pineapple. The acidity creates the backbone of the wine and is carried out gorgeously in the lasting aftertaste. Continue reading “5 Wines to Keep on Your Travel Radar for 2016”

Prowein 2015, Day 1: From the Balkans to the Balkans

I don’t usually blindly trust someone, especially when they’re discussing events and/or architecture. When people talked about the size of Prowein, I shook my head and said to myself, “Ok, I believe that exhibitions are big, but that they are boundless, yep, let’s slowly re-evaluate this step by step.” But what I saw in Dusseldorf was totally unexpected, so to say Prowein is big is an understatement. As soon as I set foot on the escalator, I saw what awaited me in the next three days. It was a bit like when Frodo approaching Mordor – excitement escalating from minute to minute, combined with immense happiness and a hint of fear.

I was lucky that I visited this wine attraction at 24 for the first time, which is a great age, because the visitors were, in average, between 30 and 60. Being a newcomer at an event like this is no easy task. Expectations are high and days are short, as with everything in life. For the first day, I made a plan – to visit Italy, France and Southeast Europe. Seven hours is just enough. At least I thought. I cannot help saying that I was not able to meet even one-third of my set plan. Continue reading “Prowein 2015, Day 1: From the Balkans to the Balkans”

Kovačević (Irig, Serbia): An Autumn Lullaby

On the way to Novi Sad, in a little place called Irig, I experienced a stunning autumn idyll. On paper it was still summer, but the charm of Fruška Gora combined with rain and fallen leaves indicated that the summer season went into hibernation a long time ago.

In the afternoon, I arrived to the old-fashioned Norcev Hotel, located in the middle of Fruška Gora National Park, far from the crowded highway. There was not a lot of time for resting because a gala evening was scheduled at the Kovačević Wine House, but the superb experience started in the Kovačević winery through which I was guided by Miroslav Kovačević and director of the Frutela distribution company, Siniša Davidović. I have to say that the winery is fantastically well-equipped and every member shows superb potential for invariable progress, followed by hard work. The winery has 10 hectares of vineyards which are located on the south-facing slopes of Fruška Gora, Srem (altitude of 240m). Here, the tradition of growing grapes and producing wine is going on for more than 100 years. Continue reading “Kovačević (Irig, Serbia): An Autumn Lullaby”

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