During dinner, our traveling group had a bit of an impromptu video recording session with one of the leaders of the FurmintUSA project, Laszlo Balint. Not only is Laszlo a winemaker, wine writer, and wine critic, he’s also a passionate consumer/collector of Hungarian wine. He’s the emotional heartbeat of the FurmintUSA program, and he’s also a family man, and a good friend.
You get a chance to meet Laszlo (albeit virtually) in the latest video release from FurmintUSA (see embed below), taken from the conversation that was filmed between him and me during our stop at Barta (you also get a chance to see how many “uhms” I utter on video when jet-lagged). If more indigenous grape varieties had guys like Laszlo pushing them into wine marketing modernity, we’d be overrun with more interesting and geeky wine choices in the States…
As you’ll see from the vid published earlier this week’s, I recently had the pleasure of going back to Hungary, primarily to engage in Phase 2 of the FurmintUSA promotional program, filming a new set of videos for the Furmint Adventures series.
That’s always fun, because the wines are largely excellent, the scenery settings beautiful, the producers amicable, and the crew totally professional. And it gave me a chance to eat at pretty much every restaurant in Tokaj (again).
This time, however, I was also able to take part in a media tour, tagging along with Master Somm’s Peter Granoff and Scott Harper, Balzac Communications’ Paul Wagner, and Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant’s Debbie Zachareas. Great travel companions all, and (an added bonus) people who aren’t afraid to share their deeply-educated wine opinions (I fit right in, unsurprisingly). Photog evidence provided below after the jump.
In going back to Hungary, it was in the latter capacity that I got to get all deep-thoughts-by-Jack-Handy on the future of dry Furmint wines. Which began one evening when I was thinking about the Fermi Paradox (don’t worry, it’ll all make some sort of sense in a few minutes)…
In this episode, I’m joined by Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant’s Peter Granoff, who makes a comical appearance and adds a bit of spot-on, Master-Somm-infused tasting commentary on the Furmint wines of Szent Donát Winery. Another twist: this time, we’re on the shores of the gorgeous Lake Balaton in Csopak; so we’re delving into the burgeoning world of Furmint beyond the hamlet of Tokaj.
Steve Mirassou, pretending to take a photo (or, sharing his opinions on the state of Livermore Valley juice)
One of my media tours this year had me returning to California’s perennially underrated Livermore Valley, where I’d not been for a few years, and reconnecting with the likes of local vintners Karl Wente and Steve Mirassou, neither of whom I’d seen (or, more importantly, tasted with) lately.
The tour was very well executed, with comprehensive tastings dedicated mostly to varietal wines from Cabernet, Petite Sirah, and Chardonnay. Generally, I remain impressed with the combination of gumption, quality, history, and irony coming out of the region.
It’s the latter two aspects that really got my pseudo-journalistic juices flowing, and they’re the focus of a feature I penned about the trip (titled The Mother Vine: Livermore Reconsidered) that’s now available over at Palate Press. Both words and pics are by me, so you can come back here and flame me if you hate either. Lots of vino was tasted that didn’t make it into the final article, much of which I’ll be trickling out in the form of mini-reviews in the coming weeks.
So… this is the part where you go on over there and read it.
Unless you don’t like irony, history (and this one is about as deep into the history of California winemaking as one can get, as the area is home to the mother vine clones of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon that now dominate the state’s plantings), or exciting developments in U.S. wine… in which case, I’m not sure that I can help you… hell, I’m not sure that anyone can help you… have you sought out the assistance of a professional for that condition? Because, seriously, I am starting to worry about you. Just sayin’…
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