Wine & Food

Snooth User: WineGeekJen

New East Coast Wine Geeks Podcast

Posted by WineGeekJen, Jul 29, 2009.

Ok Everybody....This week's podcast is up. We review Bodegas Santa Ana 2007 Torrontes Reserve. An Argentinian grape with a very German flavor. Get it from iTunes (East Coast Wine Geeks), Podcast Alley or directly from the website. This week's featured recipe is Tim's Famous Beans. Be the first to check it out!

Have you tried this wine? What did you think?


Reply by GregT, Jul 30, 2009.

German flavor?

Not sure what you mean. The grape is related to or may even be malvasia. Very floral and peachy and sometimes very good, sometimes not so.

Incidentally, I did listen to the tasting you did re the Bikaver 2005 and I really have to comment on the speculation in that podcast.

1. FWIW, you selected probably the worst example of "wine" from Hungary that is shipped to the US. It's hard for me to think of something worse, but maybe if I did some research I'd find some.

2. Someone suggested "root vegetable" and that was a very good call. Some of the horrid wines from Hungary seem to have a note of carrots or turnips. But your wine is communist-era co-op wine that hasn't really changed much since the regime change.

FYI - According to legend, Bull's Blood dates back to the Turk invasions. They had surrounded the city of Eger, which is a beautiful city incidentally. The Hungarians thought their days were over so they got drunk and eventually decided what the hell and they picked up their swords and clubs and ran down the mountains to attack the Turks. The Turks saw the red wine dripping from their beards and as they themselves were non drinkers, they assumed it was blood and the Hungarians were crazy and they ran away.

3. Today Bikaver is a blend of grapes. It's also not only made in Eger. It was so debased under communism that most people still think it's crap, several steps lower than Two Buck Chuck, but there are a few producers who have decided that they want to reclaim their heritage and they're making really good Bikaver, sometimes even stunningly good. Unfortunately, I don't know of any imported or I'd suggest one or two that you might try.

5. Hungary is not really "eastern" Europe, rather it's usually considered central Europe.

6. "Riedel glasses having different shapes because the wine hits a different part of your palate" Not really. That's a marketing gimmick. It's not possible to design such a glass. Is your head tilted? Did you toss the wine back? Is your mouth exactly the precise dimensions of the person next to you? How does one have any idea where any wine will hit any person's mouth and design a glass to target that area? Moreover, stand over a sink with a half-full glass. Pour it. What direction does the water go? Straight down at the speed of gravity. It doesn't flow forward. Riedel has stopped trying to make that claim these days.

Anyhow, at least you know someone listened!


Reply by WineGeekJen, Jul 31, 2009.

Thanks for the comments....The Torrontes reminded me a lot of a Gewürztraminer. I didn't hate the Bull's Blood--it was...different, but I didn't hate it. Since we live in PA we are at the mercy of what the state of PA thinks is acceptable to sell at the "Wine and Spirits" shop, and so the the Bull's Blood is the only Hungarian wine available there right now. I haven't much to compare it to. Nobody picks a communist wine quite like the PA Liquor Control Board, LOL (I'm sure they have some sort of buyer, but there is a lot that is not available). So in comparison to nothing...the Bulls Blood is not horrible. The legend is interesting, we posted it on our website a couple of weeks ago when that episode came out.
I agree with you about the Reidel glasses.They do nothing more that show that you have nothing better to spend your money on. :-) I appreciate you listening.

Reply by WineGeekChris, Jul 31, 2009.

Thanks for the good comments, GregT. RE: The German flavor, I think we meant more of the Gewurtz and Riesling tastes we get from East Coast wines. The Finger Lakes wines are our typical example. The Terrior does some interesting things in the East Coast wines.

RE: 1. After doing some post-recording info searching, this clearly became clear. It's good for $7, but there are much better choices, as well as much better Hungarian wines.

RE: 2. Yeah, we found that story as well. Awesome visual.

RE: 3. We keep trying to find good examples of regional wines, but, if you've read the wikipedia article at the bottom of our podcasts pages, we're really hampered by the Pennsylvania Liquor Board, which is the only show in town, and specializes in Supermarket wine. We're still trying, though.

RE: 5. I should have caught this with a Geography degree, but as a Cold War kid, anything east of Germany and Austria in my brain is Eastern Europe, i.e. the Iron Curtain. The new Central Europe (Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, etc) is actually an amazing story, in terms of modernization and success.

RE: 6. Marketing rules the world, and we all get caught up in it at times. It does make a good drinking story, lol.

All in all, thanks a ton for your comments! We're merely three months into this experiment, and in the future we're going to be doing some heavier pre-show research. In general, it's tough to pull out the roses in the sea of thorns that is the PA Wine and Spirits store, but we're trying to find some gems, in between our more enjoyable reviews of East Coast Wines.

Reply by GregT, Jul 31, 2009.

Oh you poor people - if you have to buy what the PA liquor folks select, you really are at a serious disadvantage!

OK so if you want to shop in NJ, here are a few wines you might try - at the lower end, there is a series of wines called Craftsman. They're made by Hilltop Neszmely and they're pretty much all under $10. The importer is a pretty good friend and I also know the owners - their intention is to introduce people to some Hungarian grapes and not to cause too much financial pain while doing so. All of their wines are fair values for the money and some are really good values. They make a wine they call the "Falconer's Cuvee" which is a blend of cab franc and some others and it's usually quite good. You can find them in a number of places.

Moving up, you get into some of the better reds. I'll recommend a few that you can find at Wine Library, since they're available on line. Takler is a guy who makes wine Szekszard, which is one of several historically noted wine regions in Hungary. His wines tend to be a little pricey for what you get, although some people disagree. Be that as it may, you might want to try the Noir Gold Reserve. It's from a grape called kekfrankos, or what the Austrians call blaufrankisch or blue franc. In Washington they call it lemberger but the only ones I've had were not something I'd want to drink and definitely wouldn't recommend. Again, some people like those but perhaps they never had any good ones.

However, I think kekfrankos should be the signature grape of Hungary, i.e. something to differentiate it, because they do such an outstanding job with it. As I mentioned, most aren't imported, which is too bad. But this one is a decent effort. If you want to compare to some Blaufrankisch from Austria, you might want to try Weninger. They have vineyards on both sides of the border and make single vineyard wines from both. It's interesting to compare them, however to my knowledge the Hungarian version isn't imported, only the Austrian one. As a general observation, the grape typically has great acidity, often with a spicy and peppery quality, not unlike a really cool-climate syrah might have. The area around Eger in particular seems to bring out those qualities, which is why I like those wines.

You might also try the Kadarka by Takler. Again, it's not that Takler is one of my favorite producers, but he is available because he's one of the first wines imported by Monarchia before they were merged with Matt Bros. Kadarka was brought to Hungary by the Serbs around the time of the Turk invasions, and it can be a really interesting and good wine, often with floral notes. It may be the most "indigenous" of Hungarian reds - don't forget that the political borders have been very fluid over the centuries.

Bikaver, or "Bull's Blood", is usually a blend of these, along with some other grapes.

Then they have some wines from Villany, which some people think is Hungary's best red grape area. There's Vylyan Zweigelt, which is another grape that is generally light in body, high in acid, showing a red-fruit profile without a big base of tannins. Part of that has to do with the continental climate of Hungary - it's nowhere as hot as Napa or Barossa or the Rhone, so they end up with grapes that are ripe, but rarely overripe. If people knew about those wines, they'd be calling them "food wines". They do an excellent job with cabernet franc too, as they're usually not as green as those from the Loire but they're still recognizably cab franc, with the herbal edge and body weight that you want in cab franc.

Unfortunately, as I said, there's a limited selection available in the US. Gary V at Wine Library doesn't know all that much about Hungary, but he's super-enthusiastic and he's at least been there and he's eager to learn. As a result, he usually has a few in the store. He also has a dry furmint by Demeter Zoltan. The whites from Hungary are world-class at this point. The reds aren't there yet, although they're improving yearly. You should try that white. It's lean to the point of being austere - very acidic, reminiscent of a muscadet from the Loire, but also really well-made and an excellent example of an indigenous grape done well.

FWIW - Egervin, which produced your wine, was created in the 1940s after WWII. It was the state-owned cooperative that everyone was forced to belong to and which bears a lot of responsibility for destroying Hungarian viticulture. Today it's "privatized" but it's still the first or second largest producer of wine in Hungary. If you can imagine the PA Liquor Control taking over Gallo and appointing all their hack friends to run it for about 50 years, you'd probably still be better off!

Anyhow, best of luck with your endeavor!

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