Find great wines close to home or from afar

June 3, 2019

Who could resist sampling a wine named The Oddity? Certainly not McD. So, Royal Tokaji Furmint (say “toe-kai foor-mint”) The Oddity piqued my interest for a few reasons. It had been a while since I had enjoyed Tokaji, and longer since I had written of this lovely Hungarian varietal wine. It is a white that complements spicy foods, even wings and barbecue. It is indeed an oddity that so few know about Hungarian wine. You see, Tokaj was the first European region to actually employ classification, in 1700. For comparison, the vaunted French wine classification, which brought us the “Cru” designations, occurred in 1855. Those wishing extensive info can find a very well done Wiki description here: You will note however, that my Hungarian tidbit is not included. 

By law, only white grape varieties are able to be planted with Furmint, which accounts for nearly 3/4 of the plantings in Hungary. Furmint is similar to Riesling. The winemaker can produce wines ranging from bone-dry to unctuous-sweet. Like Riesling, this varietal wine, depending on how it is vinified, complements a wide range of food. It exhibits a broad array with aromas and flavors of grapefruit, lemon, green apple, chili pepper and smoke. OK, here’s the hook: Royal Tokaji Furmint The Oddity 2015 can be found under $15. This particular label is acid-bright with lovely pink grapefruit flavors and a palate-cleansing finish. Great with Asian, and a lovely porch sipper, 92 McD. 

Turned out last Sunday was a delightful day to fire up the “barbie.” I’m a Neanderthal when it comes to my steak, and some claim it runs over into other areas of my character as well. That said, red wine is my forté, particularly great, inexpensive red wine. Generally, I am of the opinion that great Burgundy, Bordeaux, Barolo and Cabernet are made to age, and at the proper time, to savor. Using them as an adjunct to food detracts from both. Some examples of fairly priced, excellent, food-friendly reds are from our own No. 1 Delaware winery, Nassau Valley Vineyards. I have read something to this effect, “A man’s reputation increases by his distance from home.” Can’t remember or find the author. NVV is our gem of a winery that wins medals all over the world. Best of all, we can visit the winery by driving a scant few miles and avail ourselves of a tasting. Rather than extoll the virtues of the lovely wine available there, I exhort you to make the short trek to this beautiful winery. Well worth your time. Laurel’s Red Blend and Indian River Red Vintner’s Blend are great with food from the barbie. The blueberry wines, especially the reserve, are killer. Redneck Rouge, according to the owners, is “Great with Possum, Muskrat, Squirrel and Road Kill.” I eschew varmints on my plate. Those who try this combo please advise. I will pass it along, give you credit, and provide your full name and phone number. 

Highway 12 Winery Highwayman Reserve Proprietary Red is a winemaker’s art star, consistently receiving 89-90 points since 2009, and the 2014 is lovely. Findable in the mid-$30s and rated 91 McD. Their Trailblazer label is also quite good at $346/case. Changing gears, for those who are in search of a great “cheap” 95-point Bordeaux, search out the Chateau Malartic-LaGraviere Pessac-Leognan 2016, at $65/bottle, with free shipping on three or more bottles, from Jean Laffite, noted Delaware pirate. He delivers in the dead of night when your local lawmakers are at the bar. Former policemen may be lurking about, so be cautious. Malartic was bought from Laurent Perrier, the Champagne house, in 1997 by a Belgian couple, Mr. and Mrs. Bonnie. The Bonnies chose Michel Rolland, a wine expert I hold in high regard, as their consultant and the QPR has soared. This wine is blended of 53 percent Cab Sauvignon, 40 percent Merlot, 4 percent Cab Franc and 3 percent Petit Verdot, aged sur lie in 80 percent new oak barrels. It shows red fruit, barrel spices, black olive and ocean breeze aromas, medium-bodied with supple tannin, appropriate acidity and hints of earth and salinity in the finish. A lot of wine for its price. A bit young, ready in five years but approachable now.