Love at first sip – Chateau de Pibarnon

Stories sell wines, so they say. On hearing that I always hasten to add: stories sell the first bottle. The second one is a completely different matter and I consider buying that second bottle a much more significant decision with profound consequences. So no matter how good the story is if what’s in the bottle doesn’t back up the happy memories of your visit or the resonant history of the estate then it’s destined to fade into oblivion. But on a few occasions the place, the winemaker, the philosophy, the story and the wines all add up to a trajectory that catapults you to wine heaven. After tasting about a dozen different wines of Chateau de Pibarnon it is probably too early to say that this is a flame that’s going to burn for years but at this very moment it’s hard to imagine any other way. Continue reading “Love at first sip – Chateau de Pibarnon”

For real – Homonna Birtok Válogatás 2017

Favourable experiences with the vintage in Tokaj and more specifically with the 2017 Homonna Furmint-Hárslevelű piqued my curiosity and I was eager to find out what the more affordable little brother of the single vineyard bottlings was like. It’s never a good idea to make sweeping generalizations based on just one wine, or even worse, on just one bottle but whenever I fall into this trap I take heart from the fact that wine professionals base their judgements on a tablespoon of wine not even swallowed. Anyway, each time I returned to this wine my belief got firmer that this is the real Tokaj furmint. And I’m not going to take that back just because it is not even pure furmint. Continue reading “For real – Homonna Birtok Válogatás 2017”

Collision course – St. Andrea Chardonnay „Sommelier Collection” 2018

Beautiful label but you can’t judge a book by its cover

St. Andrea’s early attempts at chardonnay all got lost in the Hundred Barrel Wood. Unfortunately I have no idea whether they have ever managed to escape from the dark forest. I suppose not because for many years there was no St. Andrea Chardonnay. In retrospect I struggle to justify my choice: was it nostalgia or baseless optimism (after the excellent Etyeki Kúria) or just foolhardy curiosity that led me to the „Sommelier Collection”? Continue reading “Collision course – St. Andrea Chardonnay „Sommelier Collection” 2018”

Neat and tidy – Stift Göttweig Furth Riesling 2018

It’s been often debated whether great weather produces really great wines. According to the counter-intuitive reasoning there’s got to be some element of risk, some unforeseen accident that the vine struggles to overcome in order to make the wine extraordinary. Maybe. However there seems to be general consent that great weather produces great entry level wines. I have yet to taste more wines to claim with confidence that 2018 in Lower-Austria is proof to that proposition so let’s just say that this is my hunch at the moment. Continue reading “Neat and tidy – Stift Göttweig Furth Riesling 2018”

Rosé Power – Gerard Bertrand Cote des Roses 2018

Gerard Bertrand is an institution in France. A larger than life figure, an ex-rugby star who was forced to take over the family estate at the age of 22 following his father’s death in a car accident. While continuing his sports career he managed not only to uphold his father’s legacy but today he is seen by many as the saviour of Languedoc wine. At the age of 54 he owns 14 estates, 12 of them are biodynamically farmed and his most expensive Languedoc red sells for 170 euros (a record for this much-maligned region). Continue reading “Rosé Power – Gerard Bertrand Cote des Roses 2018”

Masterwork of a lesser master – Etyeki Kúria Chardonnay 2017

Sándor Mérész seems to have hit upon the right formula for producing more than decent chardonnay in Hungary. Though the summer of 2017 could be described as a series of heatwaves this wine shows no signs of stress or overripeness. In fact, the balance is well-nigh perfect and the intensity cannot be faulted either. Continue reading “Masterwork of a lesser master – Etyeki Kúria Chardonnay 2017”

Liquid rocks – Györgykovács Nagy-Somlói Olaszrizling 2016

Imre Györgykovács (photo:

For the English speaking world there is no better guide to the wines of Somló than Alder Yarrow. His enthusiasm for the region which was ignited by the rare and highly distinctive juhfark variety seems to have no boundaries. In 2016 he returned to Hungary to explore Somló. In the process he has even managed to come up with an original and quite plausible explanation for the individuality of Somló wines (check the section on spring waters). Continue reading “Liquid rocks – Györgykovács Nagy-Somlói Olaszrizling 2016”

Delicious – Bernhard Ott Grüner Veltliner Kirchthal 2017

Last year I asked Bernhard Ott why he has turned his back on Qvevre which I considered to be a unique and highly satisfying exploration of the soul and core of grüner veltliner. He said that the ancient technique of whole bunch fermentation and long ageing in amphorae dug into the ground had a homogenizing effect erasing the elusive terroir features and at the present stage of his learning curve he could see nothing more important than to produce elegant, transparent wines able to reflect the individuality of his vineyards. Continue reading “Delicious – Bernhard Ott Grüner Veltliner Kirchthal 2017”

Blackberry meets umami – Clos de los Siete 2015

Though there might have been a time when the prospect of Michel Rolland carrying out Robert Parker’s diabolic plans to globalize and homogenize the world of wine seemed real I for one have hardly ever tasted wines made by him or made to conform to his recipe. However there is one wine that has his name written all over it and I’ve been following ever since it was first introduced in Hungary. This wine not only has made an incredible turnaround but seems to improve with every vintage. Continue reading “Blackberry meets umami – Clos de los Siete 2015”