Spooky, haunted new cellars. And perky white wines! (image: FurmintUSA.com)
The latest episode of my Hungarian Furmint Adventures is ready to temporarily distract you from holiday shopping, and make you thirsty.
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.
Oh, yeah – the wines are pretty damn good, too!
Furmint Adventures – Episode 12.: Szent Donát Winery
image: Palate Press
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’…
The ugly truth is that I – quite lazily – did not really want to write about Champagne cooperative Mailly (which takes its moniker, and the fruit from its Grand Cru vineyards, from the town of the same name). In fact, I felt so lazy about it, that I employed the writer’s laziest device (the dash) in the very first sentence (shame on me!).
Founded in 1929, this mainly Pinot Noir brand of Champers is owned by twenty-five families (three of which account for more than eighty percent of the outfit overall), produces 500,000 bottles a year, and is farming from the same spots it has since the 1960s. It’s a co-op; the least sexy of Champagne’s production options from a consumer perspective.
No fancy house (though the fact that the seven floors of the co-op stretch down over twenty meters underground is pretty cool). There’s a neat little tasting room, white chalk roads, and cellars dug by hand (over a period of thirty-six years; by the company founders, mind you, and not by the Gauls).
But while Mailly might not be much in the way of looks when considered next to its more, uhm… media-friendly Champers peers, its wines give plenty of those superficially sexier houses in the region a total run for their money…
Read the rest of this stuff »