22 March 2013

Sauska Wines of Hungary

Hungarian wines occupy a special place in my heart. So few make their way to this little river city in Tennessee, yet the traditions go back thousands of years and bear the weight of emperors and popes, cloaked in a language isolate that is only related to Finnish and Mongolian. However, it is equally fascinating to try the wines of Sauska, founded in 2006 by Christian Sauska. These wines are imported via Opici Wines in the United States. While I didn't have to be sold too much further on any of these bottles the fact that the various cuvées are named after prime numbers (to signify the uniqueness of each blend) warmed my mathematician heart. 7, 11, 107, & 113 are represented here, though there are others in the portfolio. Yes, I often look at dates or license plates or other strings of digits and try to determine if the number is prime, or a factor of primes, or a square or other significant number. Force of habit.

The red wines are aged in French oak (combination stainless steel and oak for the whites). The reds that I review here are pure French grapes (genetically, not by soil), while the whites are mostly Hungarian natives with French grape additions. At first, I was a little disappointed that I wasn't getting some pure Kadarka and other Magyar reds, but was happily surprised by the quality and aging of the blends.

2010 Sauska Birsalmás Furmint
Tokaj, Hungary
100% Furmint
$45, 13.5% abv.
1,400 bottles made

Birsalmás is a vineyard in Mád, a region that produces some Tokaji-style wines without the actual designation. Furmint is, of course, a major ingredient in the botrytis-infected sweet wine, and is the most widely planted grape in Hungary. Rich aroma with notes of apricot, honey, and vanilla. Dry but tart and the flavor has a slight dried fruit edge to it. Highly recommended with a spicy chicken dish, as I did with some Vietnamese food.

2010 Sauska Cuvée 113
60% Furmint, 17% Hárslevelű, 11% Chardonnay, 9% Sauvignon Blanc, 2% Muscat
$27, 13% abv.
20,000 bottles made

Floral apricots and peach with firm acidity and a bright yellow apple flavor. Nicely tart and the primary grapes make me start thinking about Tokaji. Golden straw color and the only wine of the group to come with a screwcap.

2009 Sauska Cuvée 107
51% Hárslevelű, 49% Chardonnay
$58, 14.5% abv.
1,800 bottles made

Peach and a touch of butterscotch on the nose with some floral undertones. Dry but full-bodied with a deep white fruit flavor: overripe peach, a little pineapple. Firm acidity and a very long finish.

2008 Sauska Cuvée 7 Villány
Villány, Hungary
47% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc, 10% Syrah
$58, 15% abv.
16,000 bottles made

Coffee and spice on top, with deep, dark plum flavors. Firm acidity for a red and a firm tannic finish. Very Bordeaux-like, though also unlike similar California Meritage blends. I found it to be a perfect companion to my recent lunch of lamb chops and colcannon.

2008 Sauska Cuvée 11
Villány, Hungary
40% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon
$40, 15% abv.
40,000 bottles made

Light and mild with aromas of red cherry and violets. Mellow and relaxing with a delicate, soft finish. More left bank Bordeaux in presentation. I found this one to be perfectly aged and ready now for consumption with mild fare like braised pork or veal.

Note: These wines were received as samples.

No comments: