Skip to main content

Slovakian wines!

Dwayne PERREAULT - Being Canadian, when I think of Slovakia I think of ice hockey players. The Šťastný brothers. Marián Hossa. Zdeno Chára. Miroslav Šatan. But the fact is, Slovakia also makes some pretty fine wines. The reason you haven’t tried any is because they are exported mainly to Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, while the majority are consumed in Slovakia itself. So what’s a wine lover to do? Travel to Slovakia of course!

I was in Budapest this July, and my friend has a summer house just across the Slovakian border near Strekov (Kürt in Hungarian), which happens to be a major wine region in south-west Slovakia. This area is mainly Hungarian speaking and was in fact a part of Hungary up until the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. You won’t find many tourists here, and if you do they’ll tend to be the Slavic speaking variety. It’s just the kind of place I like to visit: off the western map, where Gypsies push carts down the village streets.

We visited two wineries in Strekov; I was both intrigued and impressed. Let’s start with impressed. Strekov 1075 is an interesting name for a family winery, with 12 hectares of vines on principally sandstone soils containing copious amounts of calcium and iron. According to co-owner Tibor Melecsky, the first documents for grape growing here stem from the 16th century.

When considering east European wines, it helps to have a historical perspective. During the communist era, there were strict rules for wine producers, with the emphasis being on bulk wines for the proletariat. Now there is freedom, the emphasis is on producing quality wines, but nowhere have I seen such a passion for “doing it our own way.” It’s an almost stubborn approach, experimental to the point of being daring. Every single wine I tasted, for example, was produced using wild yeasts existing in the vineyard. There are few producers in the west who would risk using these unpredictable yeasts, which may or may not turn wine into vinegar.

But as for Strekov 1075: they seem to know what they’re doing. To start with, their Rizling Vlassky (Welsh Riesling) sur lie 2009 has a beautiful lustrous bright gold colour and a bouquet containing a sour component which makes me think of mead. The wine is thick, almost oily in the mouth yet has surprisingly good acidity for a wine vinified sur lie, almost steely with a mineral expression. There are dimensions here, honey with stone fruits and a hint of oak.

The Devin 2009 is a sublime wine which seriously could hold its own against Sauternes. Devin is a cross between Traminer and Red Veltliner and the wine has a gold colour and a very grapey nose with wooden spice notes. Deliciously sweet with layers of complexity, it even has a slight petrol. Aged 14 months in a 500 liter barrel, it has a truly beautiful noble sweetness which left me strangely silent and pensive after tasting.

Moving to the reds, the Corpus Modrý Portugal (Blauer Portugieser) 2011 has a very light purple colour, Burgundy-like with a bouquet of raspberry and chocolate. Tart red fruits in the mouth with medium high acidity, low in tannins with an almost buttery finish. A light and lively wine, perfect for a picnic.

The Svatovavřinecké (St. Laurent) 2009 has a dark purple colour and a bouquet of dark grapes with spicey oak and pepper. This incredibly fruity wine is very much concentrated on berries – dark berries and blueberries, high in acidity and low in tannins. This is a wine meant to be quaffed; indeed it should be, since practically no SO2 is added. I swear, after the wine sat in my glass for ten minutes I could already taste the oxidation. Drink it fast and fresh, preferably slightly chilled on a hot day.

Finally, the Alibernet 2011 is a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Alicante Bouschet which was created in the Ukraine. Coming from young vines (approximately five years old), it is dark in colour with a funky purple fruit nose with a barnyard component. It has a thicker mouth feel with that animal/brett taste in the offset. Perhaps not a wine for everyone, but intriguing to say the least and not unpleasant.

After a delicious lunch of homemade goulash, we visited the next winery, Strekov – Kasynik. Owner/winemaker Gábor Kasynik owns 2.5 ha of land, with another 2 ha rented. The Veltlinske Zelené (Grüner Veltliner) 2011 Classic has a piercingly fragrant bouquet of green apple and honey. Barrel-fermented sur lie in 8-10 year old barriques, this a very expressive, not subtle wine with a fiery and spicey character. Lots of white pepper, it even made me sneeze!

The Sauvignon Blanc Selection 2011 has a floral nose of citrus fruits with pepper. The grapes are left one day on their skins, covered with CO2, before being pressed. I’ve never tasted Sauvignon like this before, heavier and somewhat oxidized but still containing some acidity. It’s a style which might not please many foreigners, but 600 bottles are produced annually and enjoyed by the local population.

Finally, the Dülö ‘Initium Red’ 2011 Classic is made from 90% Zweigelt and 10% Kékfrancos, or Blaufränkisch as it is called in Austria. According to Gábor, Zweigelt has a bad reputation in Slovakia due to the communist era, when it was overcropped to produce bulk wines. Not a lot of depth here, but a very lively and fruity wine with a youthful purple colour, low in tannins with good acidity and some residual sweetness.

It’s not wine, but a special mention must be made for pálinka, a fruit brandy most often made from plums. Hungarians and Slovaks alike eschew industrial pálinkas, insisting that the best stuff is distilled at home in the basement. A good pálinka burns while going down, I was told. I reckon it has about 45% alcohol, and this stuff would put hair even on Brad Pitt’s chest.


Popular posts from this blog

Bordeaux 2017 aanraders - de grootste wijnen

Evenals vorig jaar geven we met plezier onze volstrekt subjectieve lijst met gaafste rode wijnen van het jaar. We hebben bijna alles geproefd van Bordeaux 2017, maar geen Petrus en Lafleur. Binnenkomen bij Petrus is zo'n gedoe dat we dat na jaren proeven maar laten voor wat het is. Lafleur pakken we volgend jaar graag weer mee. Maar zoals is te zien hebben we toch wel weer ons best gedaan.

Cheval Blanc 2017
Latour 2017
Léoville-las-Cases 2017
Palmer 2017
Vieux Château Certan 2017

Ausone 2017
Canon 2017
Haut-Bailly 2017
Lafite Rothschild 2017
l’Eglise-Clinet 2017
La Conseillante 2017
Le Pin 2017
Léoville Barton 2017
Margaux 2017
Montrose 2017
Pontet-Canet 2017

Beauséjour Duffau-Lagarrosse 2017
Clos Fourtet 2017
Cos d’Estournel 2017
Domaine de Chevalier rouge 2017
Grand Puy Lacoste 2017
Haut-Brion 2017
l’Evangile 2017
l’If 2017
La Mission Haut-Brion 2017
Les Carmes Haut-Brion 2017
Lynch Bages 2017
Mouton Rothschild 2017
Pavie Macquin 2017
Rauzan-Ségla 2017

Calon Ségur 20…

Bordeaux 2017 - het herrezen jaar

We zijn terug van vijf dagen proeven, een dikke 8 uur per dag Bordeaux 2017's proeven. Een ervaring rijker, zeker als je de wijnen meetelt die we in de avonden proefden, en dronken. Het meest bijzonder waren wel de Poujeaux 1928 en de Domaine de Chevalier rouge 1928. Ongelofelijke wijnen en een ongekende tijdreis van 90 jaar. Een bijkans mystieke ervaring.

Of wat te denken van de witte Latour Martillac 1948. Toen we een paar dagen later op het château de 2017's proefden hoorden we van de keldermeester dat er die week 2 van de 6 nog aanwezige flessen Blanc 1948 uit de kelder waren gehaald - zelf had hij deze jaargang nooit geproefd. De avond waar al deze bijzondere flessen werden ontkurkt was het jaarlijkse diner van de Académie du Vin de Bordeaux.

Het thema die avond: wijnen uit jaren eindigend op 8. Dus dronken we bij het eten achtereenvolgens Latour 1978, Mouton 1988, Lafite 1998, Haut-Brion 2008 en Yquem 2008, deels uit magnums en dubbele magnums. Het was een leerzame avond…

Bordeaux 2017 - Geheime lijst van ten onrechte nog niet uitverkochte wijnen

Bordeaux 2017 heeft niet dat warme broodjes over de toonbank gehalte van 2015 en 2016. De 2017 primeurs staan in de schaduw van die 2 monumentale jaren. Er zijn zeker goede wijnen gemaakt, maar de prijzen waren niet altijd aantrekkelijk. En veel kopers hadden de afgelopen 2 jaar ook al aardig in de buidel getast.

Toch zijn er koopwaardige 2017's. Natuurlijk zijn die er. Wijnen die het verdienen om eruit te worden gepikt. In onze laatste Bordeaux 2017 mailing hebben we de primeurs met de grootste prijsdaling op een rij gezet: een aantal toppers dat op een nette 20-26% prijsdaling zit.

In deze posting een iets ander lijstje: te weten dat van de wijnen die ten onrechte nog niet zijn uitverkocht, om wat voor reden dan ook.

Alter Ego de Palmer 2017.Pourquoi? Omdat deze wijn zo ongehoord goed is. De wijn heeft zeker goed verkocht, maar er zijn toch nog kelders in Nederland waarin Alter Ego 2017 over een paar jaar zal ontbreken... dat gaat ons niet gebeuren! Sterker: we zijn bezig om i…