Wine of the Month
Featured Wine: Bott-Frigyes Kadarka
Grape Variety: 100% Kadarka
Vinification: Zero temperature control, open vat ‘Hamburger Method’*
Aging: Six months in concrete and steel tanks with light bâtonnage* of sediments.
Color: Cranberry Red
Price: Around $20
We are snowed in again, but I’m not complaining, as it makes the perfect excuse to sip delicious wine, eat delicious food and daydream about delicious memories. The wine I opted for, Bott-Frigyes Kardarka, is a wonderful example of a Hungarian wine produced in Slovakia. Before I get to the delicious food and memories part of this wonderful day, let me explain why I call this wine, which is made in Slovakia, Hungarian.
The Kadarka grape is used quite often in Hungarian winemaking and the winemakers, Bott and Frici (who are a father and son duo), although born in Slovakia, are ethnically Hungarian. By the way, growing the Kadarka grape is no small feat. It is a very fragile grape, susceptible to weather, mildew and/or fungus, and if conditions aren’t just right, the grapes can crack; that being said, hats off to Bott and Frici, for using organic and sustainable practices.
Before I sat down to sip, eat and daydream, I put the bottle in the refrigerator for an hour to give it a slight chill while I began preparing some food; Bott-Frigyes must be paired with food. I first made a delicious scallop appetizer in cream sauce served with some warm dense bread. That took just the right amount of time; the wine was perfectly chilled. I settled into a comfy chair facing a giant window with my wine, scallops and bread. As I watched the snowflakes dancing in the arctic like wind, I lifted my glass to the bright white light from the snow, and this cranberry-colored wine looked so beautiful. I had this flashback of walking across a gorgeous square in Vienna, in the freezing cold weather, headed to my favorite Hungarian restaurant for lunch.
I held the glass up to my nose and took in a very natural musty aroma, leather, oak, cranberry, lilac and raisins. There is also a tartness to the nose. That reminds me – you must let Bott-Frigyes breathe. This will ease some of the acidity, although there is no way around it; the acidity is real.
Oh wow, when I took a sip I got a bit of fizz, which I always enjoy. There is this touch of Bing cherry which almost instantly turns tart, along with some leather, spice, and citrus. The powerful acidity seems to wrap itself around the other notes, making this a well-rounded wine with a long tannic finish. I must reiterate here that this wine is very best with food. It is a light bodied wine, light in color, low in alcohol, but so complex, it deserves food; that will give you the full wonderfulness. Trust me, I tried it alone and it wasn’t bad, but with food it becomes an experience.
The creamy saucy and rich flavors of the scallops really went well with the wine. I always enjoy rich flavors with an acidic lighter red; yin and yang, so complimentary. In my head I thought, “I can do better.” My second pairing was with Spicy Tuna on Crispy Rice. This pairing was incredible. Spicy is the way to go. Last but not least, I paired it with a vegetarian, mushroom dominant Szechuan stir-fry which was a little too spicy for me, but Bott-Frigyes met that challenge with valor and made the entire experience so much better. The flavors of the wine have an almost cooling effect on the spice of the food, allowing the flavors around the heat to open up. Rich foods are one way to go and a very nice way indeed, that being said, spicy food is the best way to go.
As January seems a time for contemplation, this is a nice wine to pair with looking inward. Pair this wine with an old friend and a causal dinner; someone you can reminisce with, be your true self with. See your true self in the experience; laugh, look at pictures, get tipsy. Choose music with meaning to you and your friend. For example, I had a very dear friend in the 90’s and if he came over for some wine and food, I would definitely play Stevie Wonder’s ‘Talking Book.’ See what I mean? I haven’t thought of him in ages and, well, delicious memories…
Natural Wine has been growing in popularity for quite some time now and for good reason; on the Bott-Frigyes’ website it says, “Like Nature, Natural Wine is nothing more than the sum of many neat little moments.” I love this statement and feel like it applies to almost everything, including life itself. This is my first meeting of the Kadarka grape and I believe we will stay in touch.
Boldog Uj Evet (Happy New Year)!
*Hamburger method is essentially alternating layers of whole cluster (foot stomped) with destemmed hand crushed grapes.