PHOTO OPENERS “A” & “B”: Marc Kreydenweiss of Alsace’s Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss poured delightful 2004 vintage wines including the mineral-rich Kritt Pinot Blanc and the strikingly aromatic Kritt Gewurztraminer.
Photo “C” & “D”: 10th generation Piero Mastroberardino leads the family wine business in Campania. The Radici 2003 Fiano di Avellino offered up an amazing toasted hazelnut on the nose, with fresh crisp fruit notes and lean minerality on the back.
PHOTO E: Salon introduced its 1996 Blanc de Blancs. Cuveé “S” is the only Champagne produced from the House. The fruit is sourced from the one hectare (2.5 acres) Salon-owned vineyard called “Salon’s garden,” as well as from smaller parcels throughout Le Mesnil-sur-Oger from vines that are at least 40 years old. The wine is aged from eight to ten years and the resulting mousse and character is exceptional. We detected lovely lemon chiffon aromas with flinty nuances.
Royal Tokaji Comes to California
PHOTO “F”: Ben Hawkins, Managing Director of the Royal Tokaji Wine Company pours Essencia 1999, made only in exceptional vintages. He pours it in a crystal sipping spoon, enabling 33 sips per bottle.
As the Communist influence lifted off of Hungary after 1985, the country’s wines became more visible in the world marketplace.
In the 17th and 18 Centuries, Tokaji was the most expensive sweet wine in Europe. The Royal Tokaji rejuvenated the wines in 1989, helped significantly by internationally known wine writers such as Hugh Johnson and Anthony Dias Blue.
Noble rot shrivels the grapes (the main varietals are Furmint and Hárslevelu), which are called Aszú. Two hundred pounds of grapes (and its free run sweet juice) equals one bottle. The Aszú are individually picked and put into wooden tubs called Puttonyos. The number of puttony of Aszú grapes added per barrel of base wine gives the final “puttonyos” of the wine, which is printed on the label.
Aszú wines must be legally matured for three years, and Royal Tokaji is usually aged even longer. But the acidity is intact for this Sauterne-like gem.
Furmint, a white grape indigenous to Hungary, is the main varietal of Tokaji Aszú wines. The still wine is now available for the first time in the U.S. through Wilson Daniels Ltd. In taste, it’s closer to a Grüner Veltliner than anything else, with its lean crispness, but perhaps more fruity and heady. The 2005 Furmint from Royal Tokaji offered up lime peels and summer pears, with notes of green tea. (INSERT PHOTO G)
Photo H: Essencia 1999 is Hungary’s purest expression of terroir, taking six and a half years to ferment to reach a level of only three percent alcohol! In this wine, Muscat is added to the Furmint and Hárslevelu varieties. The flavors of apricots, butterscotch and marmalade swath over the palate. The bottles are all numbered, and this is 901 out of 1200. The first bottle of the last vintage (1993) was given to the Pope.
Distributed by the Estates Group in California