‘Two is company, three is a crowd’. Tasting one or two fresh, high altitude rosados from Rioja is interesting; tasting three or four, and a theme starts to appear. While Rioja may be best known for its red wines, its rosado revolution is showing great promise.
While researching rosés for the Rosé book, Gamay stood out as a variety which was particularly attractive for pink wines. Good fruit, acidity and light colour make wines which range from fresh crisp and fruity in cooler climates to rosés with greater depth and intense fruit while retaining a lighter colour in warmer climates. Styles range from simple and fresh to more complex.
The following French rosés, all made with Gamay, have been tasted at various times over the past year.
At the end of February I was invited to talk at the XIX Vine and Wine Conference at the Károly Esterházy University in Eger, on marketing Hungarian wine in a global context. Some of my research highlighted the fact that after Tokaj, Bull’s Blood was the most well known Hungarian wine in many countries. It also indicated that Bull’s Blood had a reputation for wine in the cheaper bulk wine category, with many wines generically labelled ‘Bull’s Blood’.
The successful marketing campaign for Bull’s Blood refers to the legend of when the Ottoman Turks believed the Hungarians were drinking blood to fortify themselves before battle when they saw the red wine stains on their beards. Today, it is largely the entry level wines which are called Bull’s Blood: blended reds which are bottled in Eger. Mostly, serious Eger producers choose to call their wines by the Hungarian name bikavér, with maybe a passing nod to a bull on the label, such as those of Ferenc Tóth and János Bolyki. Continue reading
Line up of Kadarka wines from Romania, Serbia and Hungary at my masterclass RoVinHud in Romania
Hungary is increasingly looking to its vinous history and indigenous varieties. There is a growing number of winemakers, who, with the help of research institutes like the one at Pécs, are replanting varieties which were almost lost during the phylloxera epidemic. Kadarka is one of those varieties now seeing a revival. It also happens to be my current favourite variety. Continue reading
4th December is Cabernet Franc Day. Happy #cabfrancday!
Cabernet Franc featured high on my recent trip to Romania and Hungary. I had been asked to talk about marketing Hungarian Cabernet Franc wines, specifically from the region of Villány, at the 2nd Franc & Franc Conference in Villány on 18th November 2016. Caroline Gilby MW presented a tasting of Cabernet Franc wines from elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe. Zoltán Győrffy presented a range of Cabernet Franc from Friuli in northern Italy.
Hiding away in southern French blends, Carignan is often unnoticed by wine drinkers. However, an enthusiastic trend amongst a few growers in southern France, Spain, Chile, California and Israel to produce this variety in all its glory, has captured my imagination. The more I taste this variety, the more I enjoy it – from the fresh zippy bramble wines to wines which are deep, black and velvety – this is a variety well worth looking out for. If you see it bottled as a single variety, the chances are it was made by a true lover of this grape.
Tibouren is regarded by many in Provence as the traditional variety for making rosé, unique to the area. Tibouren is a pale-skinned grape, suited to making rosé, as it allows for fuller fruity character to be developed without extracting lots of colour. An early ripening variety, it seems to do best in sunnier sites, usually the hotter coastal regions which also benefit from damper maritime winds. Plantings have never been extensive (currently around 450ha), as it is regarded as slightly temperamental, with susceptibility to coulure (poor fruit-set after flowering), and irregular yields. Most Tibouren is from old vines. DNA analysis suggests a close connection with the equally rare Rossese which makes red wine in Dolceacqua, just over the border from Nice in western Liguria, Italy. Continue reading
Last week I was at Vinisud 2016 – the three day exhibition in Montpellier focusing on wines of the Mediterranean.
This is a vast fair, making it impossible to taste all the wines I wanted. Many gems I wanted to taste and never reached – but here are 10 whites which stood out. In some cases, a producer had different white wines or appellations which were also excellent – but I have restricted the choice to one from each domaine and from each appellation.
As most of the rosés I taste are from Provence, it is always interesting to look further afield to compare those from other countries and in other styles.
So, in August I organised a group of wine professionals to meet at Domaine le Grand Cros in Carnoules, to taste a range of rosé wines, to see which styles we liked and to create an atmosphere in which to challenge accepted ideas. Especially as rosé styles are fast evolving.
We had an eclectic mix of 19 rosés from Hungary, Italy, Spain, USA and Lebanon. Some were received as samples from producers. Others we chose as being easily available in France, and were bought from Metro, the nationwide food and wine wholesalers.
Ever since an Hungarian wine made with Cserszegi füszeres was labelled as “The Unpronounceable Grape” for the UK market, there has been some caution as to whether Hungarian varietal wines are handicapped in the international market.
I was asked to talk at the Prowein wine fair in March 2015, about whether I thought this was so. We looked and tasted a range of Hungarian varieties, many with wonderfully poetic translations: Arany Sárfehér (golden mud), Hárslevelü (lime leaf), Királyleányka (the King’s daughter), Leányka, Szürkebarát (hooded grey monk – Pinot Gris), Portugieser (red – previously Kékoportó), Irsai Olivér and Cserszegi Fűszeres (the spicy grape from Cserszeg) – but we could have also included Juhfark (sheep’s tail), Kadarka (red), Kéknyelű (blue stalk), Ezerjó (1000 blessings), Kékfrankos (red), Olaszrizling and Furmint,