14 November 2011

Liquid Gold

If you open a lot of bottles of wine, it can begin to feel routine, almost mechanical. You uncork, sniff, swirl, take notes, sip, slurp, spit, take more notes, and rinse with some water before moving on to the next one. But even then, there are opportunities for recapturing the magic.

After a long Saturday date that included lunch and dinner, I was mulling over dessert and decided to introduce Julia to her first botrytized wine. I had this little half bottle of 2009 Royal Tokaji Mád Cuvée at the right temperature, and poured it into small brandy snifters. I didn't start talking about noble rot, but instead talked about all of the elements I got from the wine: clover blossoms, honeysuckle, balanced sweetness and acidity. Drops of sunshine. Summer in a glass.

It was the fifth or six bottle of wine I'd opened that day (I was working through samples), and that was the first one that really struck her and smelled interesting and distinct, not just like generic wine. I love tasting with people that are new and curious about this subject, and when there's a real epiphany it's delightful to watch. Plus, who isn't happy to taste a Hungarian dessert wine?

2009 Royal Tokaji Mád Cuvée
Mád, Hungary
75% Furmint, 15% Muscat, 10% Hárslevelű
Residual Sugar is 138.8g/L, placing it in the 5 Puttonyos level
$20/375mL, 9.5% abv.
Slightly musky but not overly so, with dominant aromas of honey, honeysuckle, and overripe peach. Little hints of jasmine. Exceptional balance, and considering how much sugar there is you wouldn't know it because of the bright acidity. This is a great bargain, and is highly recommended for the holidays. Serious wine drinkers as well as novices will appreciate it, and the attractive bottle is just begging for a simple ribbon tied around the neck.

(I've danced around the name a bit, because this isn't technically a Tokaji. The grapes and method are right, but by law it's a késői szüretelésű or late harvest wine. In America this specific wine is known as Mád Cuvée after the town, while in Hungary it goes by the name Áts Cuvée after the winemaker. But for all serving and pairing purposes, treat this like a Tokaji and enjoy the savings.)

I'm almost treating it as an afterthought at this point, but we also really enjoyed this white wine earlier in the day:

2010 WillaKenzie Estate Pinot Blanc
Yamhill-Carlton, Willamette Valley
$21, 13.5% abv.
An aroma of freshly cut Bartlett pear with a mild profile. On the palate it has a light fruit character with mild acidity and a good mineral finish. Later as it warms up, elements of wet stones and apricots show up. Quite lovely. I served this with a homemade chicken soup and crostini, where it made for a simple yet delicious Saturday afternoon lunch.

Note: These wines were received as samples.


fredric koeppel said...

sounds like a great day.

Benito said...


It was in fact a very good day.