My wife and I like to vary what we cook and eat to reflect the seasons so, at this time of year, we’re usually aiming for warming, hearty dishes. And, when we open a bottle to accompany them, it’s more likely to be red than white – reds generally working better with that sort of food. But it just isn’t happening that way at the moment – the white section of our wine rack is looking particularly bare while the reds are still sitting there. I’m not sure why; it could be that, until recently, this winter has been particularly mild and that has influenced what we’ve been cooking (and drinking). I hope it’s not that we’re losing our taste for red wines!
Last weekend was no different; the nicest wine I opened was yet another white, this one an interesting and unusual bottle from Hungary.
Gizella’s Barát Hárslevelű (Novel Wines, £15.79) is a dry wine from Tokaj, a region far better known for its delicious and unique style of sweet wines. Crisp, medium-bodied and fresh with delightful flavours of citrus, ripe pear and melon and a long, herby finish. It paired beautifully with some pan-fried pheasant breasts.
The Hárslevelű grape variety is native to Hungary and is quite widely grown across the country as well as in Austria and Romania, but, here, in the Tokaj region, is more commonly found blended with Furmint in those lovely sweet wines I mentioned earlier. But the bottle we opened was a varietal wine (made with 100% of the one variety), grown in the Barát vineyard, locally recognised as a Grand Cru. It certainly showed the potential of the grape, particularly in the hands of a talented winemaker as we clearly have here.
I’ve mentioned Bath-based Novel Wines (www.novelwines.co.uk) previously in these blogs. They specialise in importing bottles from small artisan producers in less familiar areas of the wine world, particularly Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe and are well worth seeking out by more adventurous wine lovers looking for different and interesting flavours.