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Hungary’s Delicious Wine And Culinary Renaissance

The First Course: Foie Gras The State Of The Cask: Scotland’s Big Boom In Whisky Grape Expectations: Tempranillo The Art of Wine YOUR ATTITUDE-FREE PASSPORT TO GREAT WINE & DELICIOUS FOOD


Christopher Davies capturing harvest. Photo by Darcy R. Davies.

Editor’s Letter When you think of Hungary, you might think of Béla Lugosi and Zsa Zsa Gabor, or perhaps Paprika and Goulash. If you think of Hungarian wine, odds are you will first think of Tokaj. Hungary’s wine lineage dates back to at least Roman times. After World War II, Hungary was besieged by the Soviet Occupation. Under Soviet rule, the focus was on mass producing easy-to-produce wines that were fermented in large cement vats. When the Iron Curtain fell in 1991, many wine-producing families were permitted to take back and restore their vineyards. Others like businessman Nimrod Kovacs seized a great opportunity. I have been visiting Hungary during this period of time, and it is astonishing how much progress has been made in 25 years. Hungarian wines are now world class, and Hungarian cuisine has reached new heights too! In this issue, Darcy and I visit some of Hungary’s most prominent wine regions and discover their unique terroir. New York-based columnist Ron Kapon explores the land first discovered by Christopher Columbus, Puerto Rico. Managing Editor Karin McLean discovers how to live the wine-stained dream in her interview with Roger and Diane Beery, the founders of J. Cage Cellars. We also introduce four great new columnists who have taken the helm with regular columns about the Art of Wine, The First Course (Food), Grape Expectations (Wine) and the State of The Cask (Whisky). Blair Bowman, is our Scotland based, highly-acclaimed whisky expert, journalist and founder of World Whisky Day. Simone Spinner is a seasoned wine professional and author based in Denver. She is chronicling the parallels between great wine and art. Claire Walter is a Boulder-based journalist and award-winning author who has written books about skiing, snowshoeing and Colorado’s vibrant culinary scene. Larry Wilcox is enjoying his second career as a Certified Sommelier and spirits expert. He is Wine Country Network’s Senior Judge for our annual wine and spirits competitions. Beginning with this issue, he will be heading up our Grape Expectations column with his first story about the wildly diverse grape Tempranillo. Santé! Christopher J. Davies @vinotasting

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Contents Christopher J. Davies, Co-Founder, Editor & Publisher Darcy R. Davies, Co-Founder, Co-Publisher & Creative Director William Davis, Senior Tasting Editor, CSS, CWE Karin McLean, Managing Editor Wine Education & Travel Editor, Ron Kapon Communications Manager, Karin McLean Contributing Editors:

WINE WORKS Pages 6-7 Underwater Wine Cellar

Michelle Bainbridge, Lisa Bell, Blair Bowman, Michael Long, Barrie Lynn, Simone Spinner, Claire Walter, Larry Wilcox Advertising, Sponsorship: info@winecountrynetwork.com A publication of Wine Country Network, Inc. Christopher J. Davies, Chairman & CEO, Co-Founder

FIRST COURSE Page 8-9 Foie Gras

Darcy Davies, President & Co-Founder

ART OF WINE Pages 20-21 Is Wine Art?

Wine Country Network, Inc. P.O. Box 6023, Broomfield, CO 80021 Tel. 303-664-5700 www.winecountrynetwork.com e-mail: info@winecountrynetwork.com Address editorial inquiries to cdavies@winecountrynetwork.com

GRAPE EXPECTATIONS Pages 10-12 TEMPRANILLO: A Versatile “Foodie” Grape

VINOTASTING Newsletter at www.Vinotasting.com

SPIRITED CHAT

Twitter: @vinotasting

Page 22-23 State Of The Cask: Scotland Rising

Wine Country International Magazine does not accept unsolicited manuscripts, drawings, photographs or other works. All letters sent to Wine Country Network will be treated as unconditionally assigned for publication and copyright purposes. Contents © 2017 by Wine Country Network, Inc. All rights reserved. Nothing may be reprinted in whole or part without written permission of the publisher. All photography in this publication, unless otherwise noted is copyrighted by Christopher J. Davies, all rights reserved. www.daviesphotos.com

DESTINATIONS Pages 14-18 Return to Puerto Rico: Paradise Lost/ Paradise Found

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COOKING THE BOOKS Pages 24-25 Book Reviews

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PASSIONS & PORTRAITS Pages 30-35 Roger and Donna Beery

FEATURE Pages 26-31

Hungary’s Delicious Wine & Culinary Renaissance

OFF THE BEATEN PATH Pages 36-39 Momento Park

COVER IMAGE Cover

Peter Szerdahelyi, winemaker at Kovács Nimród Winery.

Photo by Christopher J. Davies (C) 2016.

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TRAVEL TOURING & TASTING Pages 40-59 Hungary : Discovering Hot Wines & Hidden Wineries

PARTING SHOTS Pages 60

Rosé Rising!

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WINE WORKS

Underwater Wine Cellar By Ron Kapon

The Cantina Santa Maria La Palma is an Agricultural Cooperative Corporation, based in Santa Maria La Palma, near the town of Alghero in Sardinia. There are more than 700 hectares of vineyard, and all of the 300 members have their own farms, where they grow and harvest grapes which are then processed using a very unique method — underwater aging. The idea of the underwater cellar originates from the desire to create a special product that enhances the territory from which it came: the Regional Natural Park of Porto Conte, a beautiful park surrounding the city of Alghero. The idea was to produce a wine made from the Vermentino grapes growing in the soils of the Regional Natural Park, which faces the sea, to be left to age in a special underwater cellar, deposited on the bottom of the Park’s waters. In order to enhance the personality of taste and smell that the Vermentino can express in these ranges, the grapes were carefully selected and handpicked in advance. After a period of study and administrative process, the trial started in May, 2014. About 700 bottles of Akènta sparkling wine (symbolically one for each hectare of members of the cooperative vineyard) were placed in the seabed of Capo Caccia Isola flat to be lulled by the sea currents.

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The trial was very successful; hence, it was decided to use the procedure as an effective tool for the official production and aging of wine. During 2015, about 700 bottles of Akènta were placed on the seabed of the Regional Natural Park to be aged underwater for at least 6 months. By partnering with Blue Diving Service and the association of Alghero diving centers, the underwater wine cellar has become a destination for guided tours, helping to promote the Regional Natural Park and the entire Alghero area. The wine “Akènta” is a Vermentino di Sardegna DOC sparkling wine produced from Vermentino grapes grown in the Regional Natural Park of Porto Conte. Vo l . 1 2 0 1 7


WINE WORKS Akènta is produced using the Charmat method, left to mature at a depth of about 100 feet for a period of six to twelve months within the Special Underwater Cantina. Thanks to this unique refinement, the Akènta becomes Akènta Sub, and the wine is attracting international attention. On December 5th, 2016, Akènta Sub was the subject of careful tasting conducted by sommeliers and wine experts in New York, in comparison with other internationally-recognized sparkling wines. Underwater winery has now completed the experimental phase, becoming an effective part of the Cantina Santa Maria La Palma wine production process. Careful technical analysis of similar initiatives already being practiced worldwide reveals that the main factors favoring the aging of wine in an underwater environment are the temperature, pressure, light and oxygen at that depth. The temperature is unaffected by what happens on the surface, and remains at an almost constant 57°F, which is optimum for preservation of the wine’s aromatic profile. The pressure of four atmospheres in the depth of the sea strengthens the sealing of the caps, resulting in no pressure losses of the wine. The lack of direct sunlight promotes stability of the wine’s aroma, while the lack of oxygen prevents oxidation and aging. Another very important aspect of this process is that no CO2 is expelled into the environment from temperature maintenance or electricity, and there are significant energy savings. The conditions for rest and aging of the wine are quite natural, without the use of machinery and heat exchangers. This makes the underwater wine cellar a real green cellar. Next to the unique flavor given from refining in the sea, the Akènta Sub has another distinctive feature: its packaging. During the bottles’ time underwater, natural deposits and marine organisms function as attentive sea artisans, who create one-off “designs” on each bottle, conferring a special uniqueness to them and making them collectors’ items.

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FIRST COURSE

Foie Gras By Claire Walter

Right up there with truffles and caviar in the pantheon of luxury foods is foie gras, which means “fat liver.” It sounds a lot better in French, but the taste is ethereal, no matter the language, or the dish, from classic to over-the-top creative. The practice of overfeeding large poultry dates back more than 4,500 years when the Egyptians discovered the glory of huge, rich-flavored livers of wild geese. They realized that in order to store fat for their migratory journey, the geese had gorged on grains. The canny Egyptians decided to domesticate them, allowing them to feast on figs so they’d fatten up. Fast forward to Roman times, with the start of duck and goose farms in Roman Gaul. Of course, the Gaul of Roman times is now France, the country still most closely associated with foie gras, particularly from the provinces of Alsace and Pėrigord. The center of North American production is Quebec. On this side of the Atlantic, both duck and goose livers are used for foie gras. French purists, of course, believe goose liver is far superior for making pâté, the best-known item crafted from foie gras. This dish was created by chef Jean-Pierre Clause in the days of Louis XVI. The king did not survive the Revolution, but foie gras is treasured by gastronomes to this day.

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This delicacy has transcended centuries and time zones. Enlightened farmers from California to Quebec have largely abandoned the controversial practice of force-feeding fowl in favor of permitting the birds to hunt and peck on rich food naturally — at least for most of their lives. Other farmers who continue the practice have learned how to feed more quickly and with minimal discomfort for the bird. As Mark Bittman observed in The New York Times, “Like many animals — including humans and dogs — ducks and geese will happily eat anything that meets their standards. You don’t have to force them — they will stuff themselves anyway. So although the process may be ‘unnatural,’ it’s not necessarily ‘torture.’” A prime goose liver can weigh up to 3 pounds. Traditionally, it is soaked in milk, water or Port before being carefully baked or poached. Today, Vo l . 1 2 0 1 7


FIRST COURSE it is also cooked sous-vide. French law now requires that at least 80 percent of pâté de foie gras must be the liver for Chef Clause’s creation. Lighter mousse de foie gras generally contains about 55 percent. Pâté de foie gras is usually served chilled. Traditions are meant to be overlaid with creativity. Favorite dishes at New York’s Annisa, chef Anita Lo’s award-winning eatery, involved foie gras that was seared and served with soup dumplings filled with more foie gras. When she announced that she was closing the restaurant after 17 years, fans pre-emptively mourned the loss of this signature dish.

Foie Gras Mousse Our editorial staff adapted this recipe to use Clear Creek Distillery’s Pear Bandy instead of apple bandy in the original recipe. Original recipe courtesy of BRETT MOORE and www.thespruce.com

What You’ll Need •

8 Ounces Fresh Foie Gras - Grade B, cut into 1 inch pieces, veins removed

Darren Pusateri, executive chef at The Squeaky Bean, one of Denver’s hot restaurants, says he put a decadent pistachio-crusted foie gras with apricot mustarda on the Valentine’s Day menu. “We got very good feedback,” he said of this shareable and romantic dish. He now makes it available on order and has considered adding it to special-occasion menus.

1/4 Cup Clear Creek Distillery’s Pear Brandy

8 Ounces Unsalted Butter, room temperature (soft)

Salt & Pepper, to taste

Pusateri learned to love foie gras when he worked for Daniel Boulud, who has used fat livers in a variety of ways at several restaurants. The most outrageous is at DB Bistro Moderne, where sybarites can order the signature house burger made with Kobe beef stuffed with foie gras and truffles and topped with lobster.

Heat up a non-stick pan until it is very hot. Add the foie gras and saute for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

For those experienced cooks who want to make their own foie gras specialty, Julia Child’s cookbooks are a good starting point. Good luck with that.

How to Make It

Put the foie gras into a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. With the processor running on a low speed, slowly add the pear brandy and softened butter. Continue to mix until it is a smooth consistency. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking. Put the mixture into a serving bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Serve with small slices of toast and tart pear slices. Sources for Foie Gras Our editors ordered the Foie Gras cubes The cubes come from the same foie gras that we slice into medallions; they are simply the tasty trimmings from that process, and are as meaty, velvety and luxurious as the whole, Grade-A livers from which they are cut. We ordered the cubes at: www.dartagnan.com D’Artagnan introduced domestically-farmed foie gras to the United States in 1985, and has been supplying the finest restaurants, stores and home cooks with a range of fresh and prepared foie gras products ever since.

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Photo Courtesy of http://us.riojawine.com/en/

GRAPE EXPECTATIONS

TEMPRANILLO: A Versatile “Foodie” Grape by Larry Wilcox

Someone recently asked me what my favorite red wine grape varietal is and I quickly answered Tempranillo (Temp-rah-NEE-yoh). Why? Well, I have discovered that it is one of the most versatile red wines produced and is readily available in most liquor stores. Its versatility is based upon the great diversity of geography, soils and climates in which it can grow, which in turn affects the characteristics of this grape and the production styles a winemaker can apply to it. Some might ask if that doesn’t apply to all grapes and I would respond by saying, “not many.” There are two main reasons I find Tempranillo to be so versatile. First, it is a vigorous variety growing well in numerous climates such as that of Spain (its primary producer), Portugal, Argentina and the United States (other nations now growing it include Australia, France, Chile, New Zealand, Switzerland, Malta, Canada, and Mexico), all of which produce a wine reflecting diverse flavors. Secondly, Tempranillo is arguably Spain’s greatest grape variety; in addition, Spain allows its winemakers the choice to not age the wine, or age it on oak and in bottles from a few months to several years, creating a huge variation in flavor profiles. In Portugal it is even used to make Port wine. You can see that Tempranillo flavors can be influenced by a great number of variables and therefore

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the aroma, taste and finish can vary widely. Brief History of Tempranillo The first reliable mention of Tempranillo occurred in 1807 and was referred to as being in the region of La Rioja and the adjoining Navarra region in north central Spain. In Spanish, “tempranillo” means “early one.” The grape was given that name because it ripens earlier than most red varietals. It is the primary varietal used in Spain’s popular Rioja wines, and until only recently was rarely used outside of Spain except for blending. Vo l . 1 2 0 1 7


Photo Courtesy of http://us.riojawine.com/en/

GRAPE EXPECTATIONS

Rioja, Spain (a phenomenal Tempranillo growing area) Spain has approximately 4.5 million acres dedicated to wine, which is more acreage than any other country. Lately, Tempranillo has enjoyed a boom, rising from a little over 5 percent of Spain’s vineyards to 20 percent. Indeed, in the 10 years to 2010, 345,000 acres of Tempranillo were planted, making it the fastest-expanding variety in the world. In 2010 Spain had over 500,000 acres of Tempranillo plantings equating to over 85% of the world’s Tempranillo production. The two major Tempranillo regions in Spain are Rioja in North Central Spain, and Ribera del Duero, just south of Rioja. Rioja wines are generally lighter and less powerful than the Ribera del Duero wines. Synonyms for Tempranillo include Cencibel, Tinto Fino, Tinto del Pais, Tinto de Toro, Tinto Madrid, Ojo de Liebre, Ull de Llebre (Spain); Aragones, Aragonez, Tinta Aragoneza, Arinto Tinto, Tinta Roriz, Tinta de Santiago (Portugal); and Valdepeñas in some areas of California but this name is quickly changing to Tempranillo. Confusingly, some Spanish producers use their wine region name on wine labels such as Rioja or Ribera del Duero but really the wine grape is mainly Tempranillo. Spain has developed a classification system called Denominacion de Origen Calificada (DOCa), which controls the quality of its wines for the Rioja and Ribera del Duero Vo l . 1 2 0 1 7

regions. Part of that set of regulations identifies the names associated with barrel aging. The age statements are: Joven, which is usually not stated (unaged or aged a very short time on oak); Crianza, an everyday drinking wine (6-12 months on oak, bottle-aged till 36 months); the moderately complex Reserva (12-24 months on oak, bottle-aged till 36 months); Gran Reserva, which is robustly complex and intense (12-36 months on oak, bottle-aged till 48 to 72 months). Commonly, Tempranillo is aged in used American oak barrels but that trend is quietly changing to new American oak and, in many instances, French oak. So as you can see, Tempranillo wines are extremely versatile. You can choose a Rioja Crianza for a bright red fruity, light body style or go up the scale to a dark cherry, earthy medium- to full- bodied Rioja Gran Reserva or to a Ribera del Duero Gran Reserva that shows dark, brooding fruit-like dark plum or prune, tobacco and leather full-bodied characteristics. Tempranillo Characteristics Tempranillo…as silky and rich as the texture is on your tongue, so flows the wine down your throat. To truly make your mouth water, let me provide an abbreviated winemaker’s description: “The nose is of very ripe blackberries mingled with plums and even prunes. The wine covers the palate with a rich medley of intensely ripe fruit mixed with minerals, licorice and leather. The wine’s concentration and structure dominate the mid-palate. Firm, yet round, tannins underpin a long complex, fruity finish with hints of vanilla and chocolate. This is a big, elegant, graceful wine with great aging potential.” WINE COUNTRY INTERNATIONAL

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GRAPE EXPECTATIONS Perhaps you can now see why I’m so excited to feature this grape varietal. It is not as well-known as many of the “noble” grapes but is unmatched in its versatility of flavors and its cuisine pairing. By the way, International Tempranillo Day is November 8th!

Photo Courtesy of http://us.riojawine.com/en/

Author’s Picks

The Spanish feel Tempranillo is Spain’s answer to Cabernet Sauvignon or other famous big red “Noble” wines. The color can run the gamut from a ruby red to a dark cherry, almost purple. In general, the smell and taste (flavor) characteristics are influenced by the terroir and the winemaker’s production technique (barrel aging, canopy management, vinification techniques, etc). The flavor characteristics of Tempranillo commonly range from, but are not limited to: cherry, dark plum, tomato, herbs, mushroom, leather, tobacco, cigar box, chocolate, vanilla and clove. Tempranillo can range in body weight from a light- to medium-bodied wine such as a heavy Point Noir or a full-bodied wine like Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. It can have a very pleasant, long-lasting aftertaste. It can be drunk young, and it ages well. Obviously Tempranillo’s aroma, taste and finish can vary widely, therefore making it an ideal wine for food pairing. Food Pairing Speaking of food, Tempranillo pairs well with many of Spain’s cuisines and indeed many other ethnic food styles as well, because of the grape’s characteristics just described. Its diverse fruit and earthy flavors, balanced acid levels, firm structure and aging enhancement characteristic altogether lend this varietal to be a great food-matching wine. It is known that wines tend to pair well with the foods produced in their same geographic area. Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions are known for sheep raising; grilled lamb and sheep cheeses are ideal with Tempranillo. Because of Tempranillo’s earthy character and firm tannins (tannins cut through high fat foods), it pairs well with any red meat, roasted poultry and game birds, sausages such a spicy chorizo and any “meaty” fish. It also pairs very well with spicy or pepper dishes; creamy dishes; bean stews; grilled vegetables; dishes made in a tomato sauce; corn-based dishes such as polenta or grits; tapas, paella, any Mexican food, or other strongly flavored foods, and even lasagna and pizza to name a few dishes. Overall, Tempranillo wines are perhaps one of the most foodfriendly wines around.

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The author has picked wines that reflect typicity, a term used in wine tasting to describe the degree to which a wine reflects its varietal origins, demonstrating the signature characteristics of the grape from which it was produced. Many Spanish Tempranillo wines can be purchased in the $10-$20 range. • • • • • • • • • •

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Irwin Family Vineyards Piedra Roja Block 22, Sierra Foothills, CA ($28), balanced Abacela, Umpqua Valley, OR ($23), outstanding producer, excellent wine Castillo de Feliciana, Walla Walla Valley, WA ($20), complex and intense Sawtooth Winery, Snake River Valley, ID ($25), terroir driven Bodegas Campo Viejo Crianza ($8), to taste an everyday type of Tempranillo Marques de Murrieta Finca Ygay Reserva 2010 ($17), shows Reserva complexity Ramirez de la Piscina Crianza 2011 ($12), complex, affordable, easy to find Beronia Gran Reserva 2008 ($24), to taste a big, rich Tempranillo Quinta do Pôpa Portugal 2011 ($33), a great example of a complex Tinto Roriz Zuccardi, Tempranillo “Q” Argentina 2010 ($14), affordable and very complex Tasting Notes—Tempranillo (Rioja)

Cune Crianza 2012 ($14) This wine shows a bright cherry color with a tinge of violet. Red plum and cherry aromas are mixed in with earthy and balsamic notes. It is smooth but lively on the palate, with balanced acidity, showing abundant dark fruit, a slight herbal note of oregano, and light clove and vanilla. This wine could be consumed now or within the next year. My rating - 87.

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Marques de Caceres Reserva 2010 ($22) There is a dark cherry hue to this wine complimented by aromas of lively black cherry and dark plum, licorice, cocoa, thyme and cinnamon spices. It lays on the palate, showing dusty but firm tannins, yet vibrant acidity. Tastes range from intense dark fruit, licorice, spices of a cinnamon/clove mix. This wine can be consumed now or aged for several more years. My rating - 90.

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Campo Viejo Gran Reserva 2009 ($21) The color ranges from Cherry to Garnet. There is an intense ripe blackberry and vanilla, with evidence of oak aging on the aroma. This medium-bodied wine shows vibrant dark fruit, licorice, cola and a slight hint of chocolate. It has lively acidity and balanced but notable tannins. This wine can be consumed now or within the next 2 years. My rating - 89.

Contributing Author Larry Wilcox is a Wine and Spirits Sommelier, wine columnist for Golden Living Magazine, and founder of TopShelf Liquor Consulting, LLC. Vo l . 1 2 0 1 7


GRAPE EXPECTATIONS

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DESTINATIONS

Caribe Hilton, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1950s Scanned from a 35mm Kodachrome slide sourced from a deceased estate

Return to Puerto Rico: Paradise Lost/Paradise Found Story by Ron Kapon

Columbus discovered Puerto Rico in 1493 on his second voyage. He named the island San Juan Batista. Later the island took the name of its capitol — Puerto Rico (fine or rich port). Only the town was known as San Juan. Spain controlled the island from 1493-1898, during the Spanish-American War. Remember, Puerto Rico is an unincorporated (1898) territory and all its residents are U.S. citizens. However, they do not have senators or members of congress in Washington, D.C. I am a Professor of Hospitality and Tourism Management at a university in New Jersey. A senior member of the Hilton management team serves on the board of advisors with me. When he heard I was headed to San Juan, he arranged a two-night stay at the Caribe Hilton for me and the Hilton PR firm (which did all the legwork). Although I was under no obligation to write a great review, I am because everything was perfect.

lay claim to having invented the Piña Colada there in 1954. Of course, they offered me one as I checked in. Across the street is Paseo Caribe Center with 264 villas — on Friday night I went there for a free outdoor jazz concert. There are shops and restaurants in the center, and I especially liked El Mercado with a dozen food vendors.

The hotel staff greeted me and led me to my room on the top floor of the original building. NOTE: This was Conrad Hilton’s dream — the first hotel built outside the continental U.S. by Hilton in 1949. There were several new additions added over the years, with a total now of 916 rooms and suites, including 652 in the original building tower. They also

I had breakfast at Palmeras, lunch at the Atlantico Bar & Grill (while relaxing in the hot tub) and dinner at Lemongrass, located by the lagoon rooms with General Manager Pablo Torres as well as my favorite Public Relations person Betty Gonzalez.

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DESTINATIONS The restaurant features Pan-Asian Latino cuisine. For a quick snack there was Starbucks and a new discovery for me — Quizno’s subs. I took one to go and ate at the pool. There are 17 acres and again, I believe the hotel has the only private beach in San Juan (built before the beaches were declared public). Along with 8 restaurants, there are also tennis courts, a fitness center, pool, hot tub, spa, and game room. Why leave the property? I did visit Old San Juan, which is only a few minutes away by taxi. www.caribehilton.com When I was planning my 10-day trip to Puerto Rico, I realized I no longer knew the area that well since my last trip there was 10 years ago. My Delta flight arrived in the early evening and I did not want to deal with a taxi getting me to my family’s condo in Condado, so looked up several transportation companies and ended up calling Green Transportation. The receptionist who answered the phone was quite helpful and agreed to have the driver meet me at baggage claim. Carlo was my driver, and I later found out he was the owner of the company although he never said anything about that. I was impressed by his professionalism and asked if he could come up with a reduced price for all my transportation needs. He answered yes and the next day his company picked me up and drove me to Bacardi and back to Condado.

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DESTINATIONS

Then it was a pickup at the Caribe Hilton and a ride to my breakfast and site visit at the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel. I decided to walk back along the Lagoon to the Caribe. The next two days I was on tours and the companies offered me round-trip transportation. I was spending a day in Old San Juan so once again it was a round trip. My last trip was back to the airport. Each time I had a different driver, but they were all on time and very professional. I heartily recommend Green Transportation. www. puertoricogt.com It has been over 10 years since I last visited Casa Bacardi. Wow, they have expanded their operations! It is the largest privately-held spirits company (Dewars, Grey Goose, Bombay, among others), as well as the largest premium rum distillery in the world, and it’s still familyowned. The Puerto Rican distillery, which opened in 1958, is located in Catano, which is about a half-hour drive from the Condado area. In 1960 the Cuban government seized Bacardi’s Cuban assets. In 2003 the visitor’s center opened and has since been expanded. There are three tours available: Historical Tour - $15 (seniors - $12); Rum Tasting Tour - $45; Mixology Tour - $45 (includes the distillery tour as well as the preparation of three cocktails). I was honored that they gave me a private tour with Brand Master Juan Cartagina. Every tour participant gets a rum cocktail before the tour as well as a souvenir Bacardi glass. www.visitcasabacardi.com Georgina is a privately-owned restaurant next to the visitor’s center, open for breakfast and lunch only. It serves Puerto Rican and Cuban cuisine. Margarita Vera was my host. www.visitcasabacardi.com/ georgina Caroline Johnson was our guide for the Spoon food and history walking tour of Old San Juan. She was so knowledgeable that I canceled another walking tour of the area two days later. Our group of eight met at the totem pole at Plaza del Quinto Centenario overlooking El Morro Castle. There were historical buildings, plazas, parks, gardens, museums, shops, cafés and restaurants. This area is a National Historic Site (National Park Service). Stops included: Café Don Ruiz, Tortuga Bakery, Hecho en Casa, Cosecha Mia and Deaverdura. Along the way we learned all about the area. We stopped at many historic sites and afterwards, Caroline even walked me over to El Convento Hotel where I had an appointment

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after the tour. Try to book a tour with her when making a reservation — it is worth the effort. www.spoonfoodtours.com I did three other hotel site visits during my stay. The Condado Plaza Hilton was about half a mile from the Caribe Hilton. Their PR firm arranged this and the tour was conducted by my new favorite person in Puerto Rico, Betty Gonzalez from the Caribe Hilton. There are 4 pools and 5 restaurants here. All the top executives here are women, led by the General Manager Sharyl Toko. www.condadoplaza.com The PR firm for the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel arranged a breakfast at Ola Oceanfront Bistro with Albert Charbonneau, Director of Food and Beverage. In 1919 Frederick William Vanderbilt built this hotel, which has 319 rooms and is built in the Mission/Spanish revival style. It closed in 1996 and reopened in December, 2014 with the regal feel of the old hotel, but with modern accents. There is Veritas, an oceanfront wine and cognac bar offering live music and small bites, as well as Avo Cigar Lounge and Marabar Martini Bar and Lounge. www.condadovanderbilt.com After finishing the Spoon food tour, I went to El Convento Hotel where Senior Sales Manager Neisha Martinez gave me a tour and allowed me to rest while catching my breath. She also bought me a Mojito and some snacks. This 58room boutique hotel is located next door to the cathedral (it used to be a 17th century convent, hence the name). There are marble bathrooms, ornate handcrafted furniture and a rooftop terrace with hot tub and plunge pool. www.elconvento.com Viator had arranged a 4 p.m. tour aboard La Paseadora II at the last pier (#6) along the promenade. After I finished the Spoon food tour of Old San Juan, I had an hour to wander around before my boat tour left. I decided to walk along the piers and noted that four cruise ships were docked. Vo l . 1 2 0 1 7


DESTINATIONS

I thought about taking a taxi, but a very helpful police officer told me I was better off walking past all the other piers. Traffic was bumper to bumper with buses and taxis picking up cruise ship passengers. The Puerto Rico Information Center is along the walkway just before Pier 1. El Morro and San Cristobal Forts are about a half-hour walk from each other. Along with the Palacio de Santa Catalina, they are all UNESCO World Heritage Sites. San Juan Water Tours at Pier 6 includes six companies that have combined to use the last pier. There are fishing tours, inflatable boats, paddleboards, kayaks, jet skis and more. When I arrived, the attendant told me I was the only passenger on the 4 p.m. tour and asked me if I could instead take the 5:30 boat tour. Because I had another appointment back in Condado, I was unable to do that, but the General Manager Luis Barreto told the attendant I was welcome to a complimentary one-hour tour on La Paseadora II and he would be right there. Now that is service! I had a fabulous time and was back on shore in time for my next appointment. www.sanjuanwatertours.com I am 81 years young and walk with a cane due to neuropathy and arthritis. That doesn’t mean I am not in Vo l . 1 2 0 1 7

good shape. I have had private yoga lessons every week for 11 years, regular massages and I do physical therapy. Bespoke Lifestyle Management invited me to spend a full day at El Yunque Rainforest, the only tropical rain forest in the United States National Forest System. The Forest covers over 28,000 contiguous acres, with the peaks of the Luquillo Mountains, escarpments, steams and waterfalls, and lush green vegetation. http://bespokeconcierge.com/ They picked me up at my family’s condo in Condado and the driver made several stops for other participants. There was a rendezvous with another pickup van at a stop near the entrance where we could have something to eat and drink. Alex Alvelo was our guide inside the forest. He was concerned that the 1,000-foot trail down to the waterfall and back could be slippery and wet — it is a rain forest after all. It did shower twice while he spoke about the forest and its inhabitants and vegetation. The rain forest gods smiled on our group and there was nothing but sunshine after the showers. We were able to spot native flora and fauna, many of which are not found anywhere else on the planet. This may have been my proudest day, as I walked the entire trail and never once fell. I skipped the swim in the waterfall. Yes, I needed a bit of assistance where there was no handrail and Alex was both knowledgeable and very helpful to me. After the hike, we climbed the 96 steps to the top of Yokanu Tower for a great view of the forest.

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DESTINATIONS

We stopped at the same restaurant where the pickup groups met for some classic Puerto Rican food (not included in the tour). Then everyone was dropped off at his or her pickup point. www.elyunque.com Thanks to Dragonfly Tours for arranging my all-day water tour from Fajardo with East End Excursions. At 7 a.m. I walked to the Caribe Hilton (5 minutes) to be picked up (more pickups on the way) for an hour’s drive to Fajardo at the east end of the island. The catamaran took our group of about 25 people to the deserted island of Cayo Icacos for sun, swimming, paddleboarding, kayaking and just plain relaxing. Snorkeling was canceled due to the high winds and rough seas of the Caribbean. The captain and three-person crew were great. Lots of both alcoholic (rum) and non-alcoholic drinks were available. Snacks were always refilled. Around an hour into the fun it was lunch with unlimited portions of cold cuts, salad and fruit. I needed some help getting ashore and back. All I had to do was ask and it was done. www.dragonflyadventurespr.com www.eastislandpr.com What to do on my last full day in San Juan? It is the first day of the Festival of San Sebastian. All auto traffic in and out of Old San Juan stops at noon. I decided not to go there because all the action starts later in the day and I am not a crowd person. Talk is of hundreds of thousands of people jamming the streets. I went back to the Caribe Hilton to swim and sun. I’m sorry to leave but can’t wait to come back. Ron Kapon The Peripatetic Oenophile ronkapon.com

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Photo courtesy of public domain

ART OF WINE

The Art of Wine: Is Wine Art? By Simone FM Spinner, MH, CWE, CWS

I came to wine last. First, there was dance, classical ballet mostly, but other styles as well. Formal dance training was also formal music training: classical music, jazz, Broadway musicals. Adolescence led me through the annals of rock and roll and my heart still belongs to those iconic musicians of the Sixties, Seventies, and Eighties. I was a dance major in college and supplemented my education studying acting, painting, music, philosophy and astronomy. I fell in love with the Impressionists while traveling the globe. Once I was out in the real world, I never veered far from an artistic life, but in supporting roles rather than on-stage performances. I found myself transitioning into the fascinating world of wine, and with tremendous vigor embraced the pursuit of wine education and certification collection. Philosophical ponderings crept in too, until finally I went back to the ivory tower to immerse myself in the Humanities, focusing on philosophy and cultural studies. I discovered that my lifelong questions about art had a discipline called aesthetic philosophy. I realized an enduring fascination with its tenuous criteria. There is something about just knowing art at a glance, or hearing discordant music and realizing it isn’t quite melodious. What is an aesthetic musical score, dance performance, or work of art? Why does one painting achieve greatness while another may not? What does this have to do with wine? Can wine, the object itself, be art?

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I spent my graduate studies contemplating these and similar questions, and I wrote my master’s thesis on the aesthetics of wine. I uncovered distinct intersections between the formal qualities of the wine object and the fine art object, specifically paintings. From there, I developed a matrix for evaluating both objects side by side. It is a very simple question, just three little words, with a very difficult and multifarious answer. On the surface, it seems a simple yes or no. However, in thought, the complexity reveals itself as there are so many variables and possibilities. Is wine art? What do you think? Oenophiles often jump right into a resounding yes. We will explore these exciting questions in my series about wine and art. According to the Stanford University online philosophy database, fondly known as the Plato Pages, “Art is a diverse range of human activities in creating visual, auditory, and performing artifacts, expressing the author’s imaginative or technical skill, intended to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power…the term ‘aesthetic’ has come to be used to designate, among other things, a kind of object, a kind of judgment, a kind of attitude, a kind of experience, Vo l . 1 2 0 1 7


Photo courtesy of public domain

ART OF WINE

and a kind of value. For the most part, aesthetic theories have divided over questions regarding whether artworks are necessarily aesthetic objects.” Philosophers dating back to Aristotle have conventionally disregarded the senses of touch, taste, and smell when evaluating life and valuing art. Traditionally, foods and beverages have not been considered art objects. The definition goes on to describe art (artifacts) as “original and authentic works, and not intended to become or serve as a commodity.” On that note, fine art is definitely a commodity, such as Monet ’s Water Lilies painting, of which he produced hundreds of similar paintings in a series valued in the millions of dollars. It is well known that art has been commodified. It is easy to see how wine may or may not fit into these definitions. At first glance, people either firmly say yes or no. Many people — winemakers, critics, educators and industry professionals — agree that wine is art. Just as many people reserve that valuation for something more than a bunch of fermented grapes, claiming wine is more of a craft and artisanal object. Now wait, isn’t art the root word of artisanal? Let me take this one step further. Aesthetics can refer to an object and/or to an experience. Some philosophers claim that the aesthetics of an object are inherent, while others claim they are experiential, within context. Perhaps if the aesthetics are not inherent in the object but only in Vo l . 1 2 0 1 7

the experience of the object, it is the nebulous experience of physical consumption. We consume fine art with our eyes and music with our ears. We consume wine physically but process the object through our senses of feeling (texture), taste and smell. Is Botticelli’s Primavera painting beautiful or is its beauty truly in the eye of the beholder as an expression of aesthetic experience? If either of these ideas is true, why not use the concepts and apply them to wine? Is a glass of Perrier Jouët Belle Époque Fleur de Champagne Rosé beautiful to observe, or is the beauty in the sip? I argue that it is both. It is my conclusion that wine, some carefully cultivated and crafted wine, can be an art object, but I have also found that the real beauty lies in the aesthetic experience of it. Imagine, if you will, the experience of being in love, walking arm in arm along the Seine in Paris, snuggling up al fresco at a café and watching the shimmering Eiffel Tower while sipping on a glass of wine. One can just imagine cartoon hearts floating all around you and your lover. That wine is no doubt the most delicious wine you have ever tasted. Therein lies the aesthetic experience. Smuggle that same bottle home in your luggage and drink it on an ordinary Thursday evening while eating take out Thai in front of the TV, and it will never taste the same or as exquisite. Simone FM Spinner, MH, CWE, CWS, is an aesthetic philosopher and wine educator living and working in Colorado. She earned her Master of Humanities at the University of Colorado, Denver, after writing her seminal thesis about the aesthetics of wine. She also created and earned the first degree in the Study & Business of Wine for MSUD. She holds a series of wine credentials from WSET, Court of Master Sommeliers, Spanish Wine Academy, and various other organizations.

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SPIRITED CHAT

State Of The Cask: Scotland Rising By Blair Bowman

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Photo courtesy of Blair Bowman

Scotland is currently experiencing a dramatic boom in the number of small and craft distilleries opening up. At present there are 119 operational distilleries in Scotland but 30 new distilleries either under construction or already producing. I have heard there has been a 50% rise in the number of new distilleries starting up in the last 12 months compared to the previous 12 months, with 18 new distilleries opening in 2016.

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Photo courtesy of Blair Bowman

SPIRITED CHAT

The first of the “new wave” of distilleries is arguably Kilchoman Distillery on Islay, which opened in 2005. It is well established and releasing single malt whiskies aged 10 years.

I would argue that Scotland has just about reached saturation point with the number of new gins. There is literally no room left on the shelves in bars or liquor stores for any of these new gins that keep appearing. Time will tell which brands sink and which ones can prevail long term.

However, we have now seen a second “new wave” emerge with various distilleries, usually of a small-scale output, patiently waiting for their whiskies to come of age. By law, Scotch whisky must mature for a minimum of three years before it can be bottled.

In the next 6 to 12 months in a handful of distilleries, such as Eden Mill near St. Andrews, Arbikie in Arbroath, Harris, on the Isle of Harris and Ardnamurchan, at the Ardnamurchan peninsula, maturing whisky casks will reach the pivotal third birthday. It will be very interesting to see which of them chooses to bottle the three-year-old whisky and which of them has the patience and cash to hold off a bit longer.

Of the second “new wave,” there is a handful of distilleries that waited a few more years than the legal minimum before bottling their first whiskies. However, many — like Wolfburn, the northernmost distillery on the mainland of the United Kingdom — release their whisky as soon as it reaches its third birthday. Other small distilleries, such as Daftmill, in Fife, about an hour north of Edinburgh, have been making whisky since 2005 but have yet to release any. Making whisky takes a lot of patience and investment, as well as significant capital. To generate a bit of cash flow, several of the second “new wave” distilleries have also been creating vodkas and gins. These white spirits can be sold on the same day they were made — there is no need for them to be matured or aged. This has led to an explosion in the number of Scottish gins available. Some of the new Scottish gins have had phenomenal success, more than the owners probably expected — the gin was really just meant to be a stop-gap until the whisky was ready. In just a handful of years, several of these gin brands are now exported all over the world. Hopefully, this has paved the way for the new whiskies (when they are deemed to be ready) to piggyback on the path laid in advance by the gins. Vo l . 1 2 0 1 7

It is an incredibly exciting time for the Scottish craft spirits scene. A new Scottish Craft Distillers Association has been established, along with an accreditation scheme, to protect and lobby for these new distillers. You may be wondering how Brexit has affected all of this? Well, despite the uncertainty, Brexit does not seem to be dampening anyone’s spirits! Whisky making involves so much long term planning that all these guys are here for the long run, and for the time being these new distillers have no signs of quitting.

Blair Bowman has been involved in the whisky industry since he was of legal drinking age, firstly as a co-founder of a whisky society and latterly as the founder of World Whisky Day. Blair is an International judge for Wine Country Network’s; Denver International Spirits Competition and The North American Bourbon and Whiskey Competition. Beginning with this article, he is now columnist for Wine Country International Magazine, spearheading “The State Of The Cask” column. http://www.blairbowman.com/

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COOKING THE BOOKS

I Was A Good Waiter

The intriguing life story of Nimrod Kovacs Story and Photos By Christopher J. Davies

I first met Nimrod Kovacs in New York City in 2001. At the time a friend was helping him import wines from a consortium of Hungary’s best wine producers into the USA. Hungarian wine was enjoying a rebirth of sorts nearly a decade since the fall of the Iron curtain. In 2003, we visited his new hillside vineyard while it was being first planted in Eger, Hungary. This historic town is best known for its castle and baroque style architecture. In the wine world, Eger is famously known as the place where “Bulls Blood” is made. Egri Bikavér is a red blended wine produced in Eger. During my younger years my local wine shop used to market Bulls Blood wine during Halloween as a cheap conversation red. Today Eger is enjoying a reputation for being one of Hungary’s top quality wine regions. In October 2016, Darcy and I had the pleasure of revisiting Hungary and returning to the very same vineyard where the workers were now harvesting its 13th vintage. A tremendous amount of progress had been made in the vineyards as well as at the winery that had tripled in size. We had a great time documenting the 2016 harvest activities and tasting through mature vintages of Kovacs Nimrod wines. We really enjoyed the discussions about the tedious steps that had been undertaken to develop the winery to this level of success. Just two days before our visit to Eger, we were guests at a special book signing at the Kempinski Hotel in Budapest for Mr. Kovacs newly released autobiography “ I was a good waiter”. While the book and presentation was primarily in Hungarian, Nimrod gave us a flawless overview in perfect English. There were over 150 people in attendance including members of the media and wine industry. While I do not speak Hungarian fluently, I witnessed a large amount of pride in the room. Best of all we got to taste a selection of 6 different Kovacs Nimrod wines! Nimrod Kovacs was born a son of a Doctor in Budapest during the Soviet Occupation. In 1971, he decided to leave Hungary by way of Slovenia. This is where he swam across a narrow strip of the Adriatic to Italy. After a 6-month wait, he was sent to New York, and then taken in by a Hungarian family that lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma for 3 months.

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He moved to Denver with the family’s son who was attending the University of Denver. Kovacs went on to finish his Masters Degree in the US. A great communicator, people person and marketer, Kovac’s moved to New York to work in the advertising field. His distinguished career included stints at DDB, Grey, Wells, Rich and Greer. In the early eighties the cable television industry was booming and Kovacs moved to Denver in 1982 to work for United Cable Television Corp. This was his first of many companies in the US and Europe that he worked at or ran until retiring in 2009. Stock options and strategic management advances, riding the Cable TV boom made Kovacs a very wealthy man. His love for wine and art drew him into the wine industry in 2000. It is safe to say that he has mellowed a lot over the years. To make great wine takes a lot of patience. This has had to be a big adjustment after the many dynamic twists and turns of the cable biz. Today, Kovacs Nimrod winery has 32 hectares of vineyard land, with 26 planted. The company is currently turning out 110,000 bottles of wine. More details about the wine are covered in this issue. Almost half of the wine is sold in Colorado, Kovacs other adopted home where he keeps residence in the posh Cherry Creek neighborhood. Two of his adult children also live in Colorado. So he jets several times per year between Budapest and Colorado to catch up with old friends and family. Having grown up during the time of the Soviet Occupation and to witness how things are today could humble anyone. Nimrod Kovacs now enjoys a peaceful life as an investor, philanthropist and nature loving wine guy. I am hoping that his book eventually gets published in English, because I think that it will be inspiration for anyone. CD

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COOKING THE BOOKS WINE

Wines of the Finger Lakes Wines, Grapes, and Wineries of New York’s Most Dynamic Wine Region Author: Peter Burford

ISBN: 978-1-58080-181-2

Publisher: Burford Books

Rating: Very good

Format: Soft Cover, 188 pgs.

U.S. Price: $18.95

For anyone unfamiliar with wine regions of the world, upstate New York, with its brutally cold winters, wouldn’t automatically spring to mind as a great wine producer. The Italian countryside is more like it. However, the Finger Lakes area of New York state is a prominent, award-winning North American wine region, and Peter Burford’s Wines of the Finger Lakes tells us why. Beginning with an explanation of the lake effect on the surrounding countryside, along with that of soil and slope on the vineyard, Mr. Burford guides us through a history of the region’s wine industry and its founding fathers. A brief course in winemaking follows, shedding light on the basics for wine newcomers, and the rest of the book is dedicated to a descriptive listing of Finger Lakes wineries. Although this book is not highly technical, it’s part history book and part travel guide; as such, it will appeal to the reader who wants to go a bit in-depth and not just skim. The photography is a bit thin and mostly in black and white, but the book is set in a very readable type with restful whitespace. I recommend this book for anyone from or interested in the Finger Lakes wine region for its historical look back at the events that set it all in motion.

FOOD

Mario Batali Big American Cookbook Author: Mario Batali and Jim Webster

ISBN: 978-1-4555-8471-0

Publisher: Hachette Book Group

Rating: Excellent

Format: Hard Cover, 495 pgs.

U.S. Price: $40.00

What I love about Mario Batali’s latest cookbook is its utter lack of pretentiousness. For a celebrity chef who is also a restaurateur, author, entrepreneur and TV personality, Mr. Batali’s has a down-to-earth, engaging writing style. He and Jim Webster wrote this with the home cook in mind, with easy-to-follow recipes for good ol’ traditional American food from all regions of the country. Introducing his book with an homage to the root sources of our rich culinary history — mostly other countries’ home cooking that immigrants brought with them — he lets us know up front that this book is a compilation of traditional recipes from around the country, not his spin on them. He does, however, offer his suggestions for a twist on the original at the end of each recipe — these are his own “kick it up a notch” ideas for variations. In this treasury, which is rich with sumptuous photos and descriptions, you will find such regional classics as Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Shrimp and Grits, the two Chowders (New England style and Manhattan), She-Crab Soup and Apple Pie; however, every region of the country is covered, and readers are sure to recognize their own local favorites. Not to be remiss, cocktails, preserves and desserts are also included. The Big American Cookbook is great as a gift to the foodie in your family (or to yourself) for a delicious return to the basics.

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Feature : Hungary

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Hungary’s Delicious Wine & Culinary Renaissance Story by Christopher J. Davies Photos by Christopher and Darcy Davies

I first visited Hungary in 1993, two years after the fall of the Soviet Occupation (Iron Curtain). In my previous career, I was running GMI Photographic, a national importer and distributor of photographic products. One of our suppliers, the maker of Forte Black and White papers, was based in Hungary, and as business expanded, I had to visit the factory once a year. My host picked me up at the airport in a miniscule ancient Trabant, a noisy, sluggish excuse for a car that quickly gave me Amaxophobia (fear of riding in a car). The trunk was so tiny that my luggage had to be stored in the back seat.

The view from the river is stunning when you look up toward the hilly Buda district. Buda’s old town is quaint, and architecturally speaking was unaffected by the Soviet Occupation. Pest is another story. It features numerous gray concrete buildings built to be functional, not attractive.

My first impression of Budapest was that of a city frozen in time. Hungary’s capital city is filled with monuments, government buildings and elegant bridges that look best when illuminated at night.

Back then, restaurants served traditional Hungarian comfort foods like Goulash, Halászlé (Fish Soup) and Paprikás Csirke (Chicken Paprikash). I remember that my hotel restaurant specialized in goose liver fried in lard. On my second visit, I ordered chicken breast. That was also fried in lard, but had a bonus goose liver welded to the top.

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Feature : Hungary

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Photo courtesy of Kempinski Corvinus Hotel

In 2003, I returned to Hungary with Darcy in my capacity as Publisher and Editorial Director of Wine Country International magazine, to take part in an organized press trip. The trip was hosted by the Hungarian Tourism Board in New York. We flew to Budapest on Hungary’s then- flagship airline Malev, which has since ceased operations. During that visit, we hit the ground running almost immediately, visiting distant wine regions from dawn to dusk, including Lake Balaton’s Badacsony, Pecs, Villány and Eger. It was during our visit to Eger that we witnessed the planting of a hillside vineyard supervised by a young rock star winemaker by the name of Pók Tamás. That afternoon, we tasted wines with pizza in his wine cellar. Mr. Pók’s portrait in the vineyard was featured on the cover of our second issue. Back in 2003, Budapest chefs were already starting to turn out ingenious versions of traditional Hungarian fare. Many had shelved their deep fryers and discovered extra virgin olive oil and healthier cooking methods, as well as foam machines. When we returned in 2008 by way of hosting a 10-day riverboat cruise of Eastern Europe, we arranged a two-day layover in Budapest. We were elated to experience noticeable improvements and Nouvelle Cuisine created by young ambitious chefs. In October 2016, we returned to Hungary to witness the final stages of the 2016 wine harvest. This trip had been months in the Vo l . 1 2 0 1 7

making, and would not have been possible without the help of our friend Nimrod Kovacs, owner of Kovacs Nimrod winery. He was instrumental in helping us organize the week-long itinerary and coordinated support from numerous players in the Hungarian wine industry. From Denver, we flew overnight on Lufthansa Airlines and had a brief layover in Frankfurt. On our long segment from the U.S. to Germany, we were extraordinarily lucky to be upgraded to Business Class. This premium upgrade is most appreciated on a long haul overnight flight! The new, open design Lufthansa Business Class seat transforms into an almost 2-metre-long, fully flat bed. The dinner menus are designed by top chefs, and the extensive beverage selection is a foodie’s delight. The extensive inflight entertainment will help you forget how long your flight to Europe takes. We landed in Budapest at noon and found a new, larger and improved airport loaded with eateries and designer shops. That afternoon we checked into the Kempinski Hotel Corvinus, Budapest. This luxury 5-star hotel had everything to offer a seasoned traveler — modern, well-decorated rooms, comfortable beds, satellite television with access to American networks, several bars and on-site restaurants, plus a very friendly and professional staff.

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Feature : Hungary The hotel is centrally located near many of the city’s top attractions like the Chain Bridge (0,5 km), St. Stephen’s Basilica (0,5 km) and Parliament (1,2 km). There are many shops located within walking distance of the hotel. Kempinski Hotel Corvinus, Budapest Restaurants The hotel rightfully promotes its location as the gastronomic corner of Budapest, with culinary offerings so great most guests would never need to leave the hotel to get a good meal. ÉS Bisztró (bistro): Modern and artsy, ÉS Bisztró is ideal for lunch or dinner. It also serves as the hotel’s breakfast restaurant serving a humongous Hungarian breakfast buffet that makes even the best Irish breakfast look petite! Artisan meats, cheese and charcuterie are offered in the afternoon. Starters include: goose liver paté made with Tokaji wine, stewed fruits and brioche 3,640(HUF), Hungarian charcuterie sampler 2,860(HUF) and an extensive selection of Hungarian wines by the glass and bottle from the country’s top producers. Full Menu NOBU Restaurant Photo courtesy of Kempinski Corvinus

Nobuyuki Matsuhisa — known to the world simply as “Nobu” — is the acclaimed and highly influential chef proprietor of Nobu and Matsuhisa restaurants located across five continents, thanks to a partnership with renowned actor and Co-Founder Robert De Niro. Chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa’s new-style Japanese cuisine is legendary. Nobu Budapest is his first restaurant in Eastern Europe. The cuisine is typical Japanese blended with South American (Peruvian) flavors. The chef’s signature dish is Black Cod in Miso. Open for lunch or dinner, reservations are a must. Full Menu Blue Fox The Bar A Budapest hotspot. The Blue Fox boasts dramatic lighting and a warm atmosphere for enjoying a handcrafted cocktail, craft beer or glass of wine. Full Menu 5 out of 5 Stars- Highly Recommended Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest Erzsébet tér 7-8

Photo courtesy of Kempinski Corvinus

1051 Budapest Hungary +36 1 429 3777 https://www.kempinski.com/en/budapest/hotelcorvinus/hotel-location/

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Photo courtesy of Kempinski Corvinus

Noteworthy Budapest Restaurants: TG Italiano Tom George is a hip and approachable Italian restaurant producing wonderful, moderately-priced Italian cuisine. The restaurant is large and trendy, attracting a who’s who of local and international clientele. The bar is the big point of focus, with an impressive list of whiskies, handcrafted cocktails and a wide-ranging wine list full of Italian and Hungarian bottles. TG Italiano has a sister restaurant in downtown Los Angeles. TG Italiano 1051 Budapest Október 6. u. 8. Asztalfoglalás +361 266 3525 E-mail: tomgeorge@tomgeorge.hu http://www.tomgeorge.hu/

Top Attractions in Budapest: • Parliament Building

Alabárdos

• Heroes Square

Located in Buda Castle, Alabárdos has been operating for over 50 years. They serve inventive versions of traditional Hungarian fare. Their website describes their recipes as being developed before the use of Paprika! Great cuisine, elegant décor and live music make for an amazing dinner.

• Buda Castle

Alabárdos Orszaghaz Utca 2, Buda 1014 Tel. +3613560851 Email alabardos@t-online.hu Website: http://www.alabardos.hu Vo l . 1 2 0 1 7

• Fishermen’s Bastion • The Chain Bridge • The Danube River • Memento Park • Gellert Baths and Spa Budapest • Faust Wine Cellar (Hilton Budapest) WINE COUNTRY INTERNATIONAL

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Photos Courtesy of J.Cage Cellars

PASSIONS & PORTRAITS: Roger and Donna Beery

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An interview with Roger and Donna Beery, Founders of J. Cage Cellars Story By Karin McLean

Our Managing Editor Karin McLean interviewed Roger Beery, Co-Founder (with his wife Donna) of J. Cage Cellars. Roger and Donna created the wine blog Bacchus and Beery about ten years ago and from there slowly realized they had a “Wine Stained Dream” of beginning their own wine brand. Fast forward to 2017 and J. Cage Cellars is producing award-winning wines sold only on their website and in select restaurants. KM: I’m always interested in hearing about how and why people decided to quit a sure thing and change careers for something completely unexpected. What were you two both doing before starting a wine brand? RB: It all boils down to a willingness and desire to follow your passion. At the time we were deciding to make the transition from the automotive dealership consulting world to the wine world, I kept thinking about a lyric in a Robert Earle Keene song, “If you live your whole life upon a shelf, you got no one to blame but your own damn self!” That lyric still motivates me today. Prior to starting J. Cage, I ran a successful risk management consulting firm that focused on the automobile dealership industry. As I used to joke, it was my MBA project that never ended. Donna was also involved in the firm as staff accountant. In early 2015, I was approached by a couple of prospective buyers and thought maybe the universe was trying to tell me something. We sold that firm on 6/30/2015 and haven’t looked back. About ten years ago Donna and I began to write the Bacchus and Beery Wine Blog. As the blog matured, we focused more and more on small family and artisan wineries, many of which were in Sonoma County. We also began to learn about this entire culture of people who left stable careers to make wine to work in some other aspect of the wine world. Many of these folks sacrificed very good jobs to take a $14/hour 3-4 month internship just to learn about making wine. Some went on to get formal winemaking educations and other learned by doing. Little did I know that by interviewing and befriending many of these passionate winemakers that we were paving the way for our own transition to winemaking. KM: Many people dream of doing something “crazy” like starting a virtual winery, but it remains a dream. What was the thing that made you do it? What do you think is the difference between the dreamers and the doers when it comes to something like this? Vo l . 1 2 0 1 7

RB: First, let’s define a virtual winery so your readers have a clear picture. J. Cage is an actual winery, it’s just that we source our grapes from respected winegrowers rather than owning the vineyard and we make our wines at a winery that is not ours. It is virtual from the perspective that we don’t have a place to visit or distribute to retail outlets. The wines are only available at our website and in a few select restaurants… or you can just call us. Well, we may be crazy…time will tell. First, I think it takes a very positive attitude and the willingness to not second guess yourself, too much. There are always doubts but you can’t let the unreasonable doubts stop you. For many very reasonable people life and responsibilities make following dreams and passions later in life very challenging. Kids, college tuition, mortgages, cars and all those things can and probably should make most people think twice. For us however, I think meeting others who had successfully done what I wanted to do made it seem much more doable. The support of my family was the most important piece. If I’d jumped off this cliff without the support of Donna and our children, it would have been impossible to in all good conscience follow what we call our WineStained Dream. KM: Describe the process of getting started - what was your first step? RB: The first step we thought would be to find a vineyard we wanted to a make wine from and convince them to sell us grapes, even though we’d never made wine. And while that was an early step, the first step was to hire a lawyer and get properly licensed, which is quite arduous. Navigating liquor laws is befuddling but it has to be done before you can make commercial wine. We also had to pick a name. Our last name is Beery which would be a very confusing winery name. We wanted a family connection. J. Cage, my great grandfather, was a family patriarch and a [sic] early artistic bridge designer and builder. J. Cage was a pioneer who valued craftsmanship in all he did. It is that craftsman’s spirit that lives on in our family and in every bottle of J. Cage Cellars wine. So now we are back to finding the right vineyards for the wines we envision making. Fortunately, after so many years of writing the blog and reviewing wines, we had had some relationships with vineyards where others had made wine we loved. Those winegrowers were willing to take a risk on us. Since we make only vineyard designate wines, the winegrower has to trust that their vineyard will be well represented by J. Cage since their vineyard name is on the bottle. At the same time we needed to find a winery to make our wines and provide the services and equipment we didn’t own. In some cases, commercial wineries will use excess capacity to serve small producers like us. In our case, we went to a custom crush winery, a winery that specializes in making wines for other producers. WINE COUNTRY INTERNATIONAL

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Photos Courtesy of J.Cage Cellars

PASSIONS & PORTRAITS: Roger and Donna Beery

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KM: How many years did it take between embarking on your wine journey and producing the first sellable bottles of wine? RB: It was really quite fast. Maybe we moved so fast we didn’t have time to ask WTF are we really doing. The decision to move forward was made in late May 2014. Because of our contacts from the wine blog, we knew exactly what vineyards we wanted to work with to create what we call our “Virgin Vintage.” Luckily, those vineyards had enough fruit to accommodate us. On June 2nd, our 35th wedding anniversary, we celebrated our first Pinot Noir contract of 1 ton of grapes from Nunes Vineyard in Russian River Valley. While one ton sounds like a lot, it only makes two barrels or about 50 cases, but we were on our way. In the next few weeks, we secured contracts with our Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier vineyards and added an extra ton to our Nunes contract. We picked our Sauvignon Blanc on August, 27th and Viognier on the 28th. The Nunes Pinot Noir came in a couple weeks later. J. Cage released our first white wines in May of 2015 and the Pinot Noir in November. Fortunately, the wines were well received and sold out rather quickly. Our 2015 Chardonnay is sold out and we have only a small amount of Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc left. We have just released two 2015 Pinot Noirs from Nunes and Hallberg Vineyard to very positive comments. KM: Describe a typical day at your business. RB: There really is no typical day but it is pretty easy to say that our work is divided into winemaking and wine selling. In August through October, we are really focused on winemaking. That’s when the grapes are harvested and the heavy lifting of winemaking is done. The rest of the year is spent promoting J. Cage and meeting our clients. We also spend time during the year with other winery activities like barrel topping, blending and bottling. We do not have a tasting room so our wines are either ordered from our website or at private tasting events. We like that we get to personally interact with most of our customers and wine club members. We want them to know they are an integral part of the J. Cage family and the “winestained dream.” KM: How many people do you employ and what do you look for, besides experience, in someone you hire that may be unique to your brand? RB: At this point, and for some time to come, it’s just our family. Our son, Conch, serves as our winemaker but because we are so small, he works full-time at a well established winery. Donna handles all the back office compliance and accounting. Our daughter, Whitney, helps with some marketing but she also works in hospitality at a very well known winery. Many of the other jobs that larger wineries do in-house, we use consultants. This includes our consulting winemaker, Adam Lee. We also are fortunate that Conch and Whitney have significant others in the industry that help when asked everything from marketing ideas to vineyard inspection and grape sorting. It really is a family thing…at least for a while longer. KM: What is your wine brand’s “personality?” RB: We are truly a family winery that crafts small lot single vineyard wines. We think serious wines should not be taken so seriously. If you even question this, pick up the phone and see who you get on the other end…We are there to share the wine-stained dream with our customers. KM: How has the wine industry changed over the years you’ve been doing it? Has your marketing strategy changed as well? RB: Since we’ve only been at it since 2014, it hasn’t changed much. Our marketing strategy is to “touch” as many of our customers as possible through direct sales rather than just being another brand in a wine shop or grocery store. The client connection is important to us. KM: What’s the difference you can see between wine buyers of, say, a generation ago, and today’s millennial buyers? Are you targeting any one specific group of buyers?

authentic and is artfully crafted. We hope all J. Cage clients feel a part of what we are doing. Any time you reach out by email or phone…you get a member of the Beery family..we are all about service and great wine. KM: How are the responsibilities of the business divided up in your family? RB: Donna and I do the vast majority of the work since both Conch and Whitney have full time wine jobs. In the office, Donna handles the accounting and compliance side, while I focus of planning, grape contracts, etc. I do most of the marketing while Donna and I share the wine sales, event pouring etc. While Conch, with the help of our consultant, guides the winemaking, it is Donna and I that are hands on in the winery and in the vineyards. Conch tries to be in the vineyards on his days off and often helps with harvest if the grapes are picked on a day he has off. Donna has unexpectedly found that she loves the pre-harvest vineyard work of sampling and testing grapes so we work in the vineyards together. I do much of the winery work but Donna is always available to offer assistance when she can. This year that includes foot stomping our Sangiovese to break up the skins for a better fermentation. KM: What are your long-term goals for your brand? How many cases are you currently selling, what’s your production now, and what are your plans for the next 5 years? RB: Our main goal is to produce delicious wines that let the incredible vineyards from which they are sourced have a voice. That said, we strive to craft wines that excite our clients and they are proud to share with friends and family. Our current production is about 750 cases which include two single vineyard Pinot Noirs, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier. We also added old vine Zinfandel and a mountainside Sangiovese in 2016. Over the next five years we expect to grow to 2,000 to 2,500 cases. At this size we can still hand craft the wines and remain in contact with our customers. KM: You’ve been entering competitions and doing quite well – how does that help your sales? RB: Yes, all the gold medals have helped to increase awareness and add validly in the eyes of some customers. There are a lot of great wines out there. For a new brand, the medals do validate that we are doing something right...Hopefully, that new customer will have the confidence to take a chance on our little winery rather than buying a wine they already know they will enjoy. Hopefully, we then become that wine they love and know they will enjoy each and every vintage. KM: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us! We really appreciate learning about your journey from dreaming to doing, and we hope this encourages others out there who have a dream of their own to pursue.

RB: As a producer of premium wines our market is smaller than a lager value priced producer. That said, we look for clients who want to feel a part of the winery...sharing the wine-stained dream. In this segment, I don’t think millennial wine buyers are much different. They want a wine that feels Vo l . 1 2 0 1 7

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OFF THE BEATEN PATH: Budapest

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Story and Photos By Christopher J. Davies

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OFF THE BEATEN PATH: Budapest

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Memento Park Located on the outskirts of Budapest, Memento Park showcases an odd collection of Soviet Occupation-era statues that once stood throughout the city. We asked Nimrod Kovacs to take us there on our return from Eger. While he had heard about this place, he admitted he had never been interested in visiting it. When we arrived, there were about six cars in the parking lot. We approached the ticket booth and paid the small entrance fee. Upon entering, we encountered more than twenty large statues, most made of steel. Since we could not read Hungarian, it was difficult to understand exactly to whom each statue had been dedicated. On several stops Nimrod would tell us that “this guy was a really bad dude!� He later told us that one statue had been displayed near his childhood home. I got the impression that seeing these statues was not a pleasant reminder of his past. Still, he felt it was reasonable that someone had taken steps to preserve history. As a photographer, I felt this was an amazing place to visit and document. While the park has a website in Hungarian as well as in English, it has little information about the person(s) depicted in the statues. Memento Park Adults: 1.500 HUF 1223 Budapest 22nd district (Southern Buda) corner of Balatoni ut and Szabadkai utca www.mementopark.hu Vo l . 1 2 0 1 7

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TRAVEL : Touring and Tasting

Exploring Hungary’s Great Wine Regions Story by Christopher J. Davies Photos by Christopher J. Davies & Darcy Davies

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We used Budapest as our main base for the week when we explored Hungarian wine regions. Just about every other day we would pack up our belongings and trek away from the city to one or two wine regions. We would stay the evening at our last destination and return to Budapest on the following afternoon. Like most Europeans, our hosts had relatively small vehicles and did not have the space for our two large suitcases; we left a suitcase behind with the bellman for storage. Once you depart busy Budapest, the Hungarian highways are easy to navigate. Most wineries have tasting rooms like the ones in Napa and are equipped to host small groups, as well as organized group tours. Reservations are strongly suggested. Many wineries will give you tours of the cellars. In Hungary, the cellars can be expansive and extend deep into a hillside. The walls are lined with bricks or stones to keep the cellars cool. Old cellars with excess humidity will have mold, which is not harmful to the wines but is gauged by its thickness when it is able to be measured with a coin. Vo l . 1 2 0 1 7

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Wine Regions Visited Etyek-Buda Wine Region

One of Hungary’s newer wine regions, Etyek-Buda is primarily a white-winegrowing region. Location: 30 minutes South of Budapest, stretching to Lake Velence Area: 1480 hectares Top Producers: Etyeki Kúria, Nyakas Pince

Etyeki Kúria Opened in 2012, this is an ultra-modern winery in a small village. The building’s modern design could adorn the pages of Architectural Digest, incorporating a lot of floor-to-ceiling glass to take advantage of natural light during the day. While the region primarily produces whites, Etyeki Kúria planted Pinot Noir in 2001. They have 26 hectares on the estate and another 13 hectares nearby. In 2015 they produced 150,000 bottles. In 2016 it was close to 200,000. The area has lots of limestone and can produce structured wines with great acidity. Recently, the wine labels were redesigned by an Austrian designer to have a simpler, more basic look, inspired by local vintage tablecloths and textiles. Wines Tasted: KÚRIA Pláne Sparkling Wine (4 out of 5 stars) Blend of Zenit, Kiraly Leantrka and Pinot Gris KÚRIA White 2016 (4.5 out of 5 stars) Blend of Királyeányka and Pinot Gris Light and refreshing, tart apples and medium finish. KÚRIA Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (4 out of 5 stars) Light straw color, citrus and peach, light, earthy wheat flavors with a medium finish. KÚRIA Chardonnay 2013 (4.5 out of 5 stars) Light gold straw color. 30% new oak, 70% stainless A respectable chardonnay that pairs well with poultry and seafood. KÚRIA Rosé 2016 (4.5 out of 5 stars) Kékfrankos, Pinot Noir blend. Salmon color, lovely floral notes, light finish. KÚRIA Red 2015 (4.5 out of 5 stars) Kékfrankos, Merlot, Zweigelt, Pinot Noir Dark crimson color, medium finish. A great everyday red! Summary: A lot of investment has been expended here. Their talented winemaker Mérész Sándor is patiently aging red wines in French and Hungarian oak barrels. Recently they were 2017 3rd VinCE Award winners, a prestigious annual wine industry event in Budapest. Their close proximity to Budapest makes this winery a must-visit for every serious wine enthusiast! These wines are not yet available in the U.S. Etyeki Kúria Borgazdaság (Etyek Mansion Farm) Etyek, 2091 Hungary +36 30 828 1599 etyekikuria.com

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TRAVEL : Touring and Tasting

Where to Eat Rokusfalvy Restaurant This is a charming old seasonal restaurant and inn which is open spring through fall. They serve hearty, traditional cuisine with a twist. Enjoy starters like:

• Duck Liver Terrine with Strawberries and Peanuts 2,690 (HUF)

• Wind-Dried Ham and Dried Tomato Salad with Chives 2,490 (HUF)

Entrees:

• Pork Tenderloin with Lentil Croquette, Capia and Celery 2,990 (HUF)

• Confit of Duck Leg with Braised Cabbage and Barley 2,990 (HUF)

• Saffron Risotto with Tiger Prawn and Parmesan 2,690 (HUF)

• Deer Stew with Truffle and Ewe Cheese Flavored Potato Noodles 3,290 (HUF) Dessert:

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• Crème Brûlée 1,290 (HUF)

• Yeast Cake Dumplings with Almonds and Vanilla Sauce 1,294 (HUF)

Rokusfalvy Restaurant Etyek, Alcsúti út 4, 2091 Hungary www.rokusfalvyfogado.hu WINE COUNTRY INTERNATIONAL

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Villány Villány is one of Hungary’s top wine regions, known for its reds and Rosés. Location: 3 hours south of Budapest, north of Croatia and Serbia. Area: 1800 hectares. Top Producers: Vylyan Winery and Bock Winery

Vylyan Vineyards and Winery Founders Pál and Monika Debreczeni planted their first vines in 1992. Their wines soon achieved wide-range acclaim. Pál died in a car accident in 2004, but his wife Monika took over the reins and has guided the estate winery ever since. “Taking over the winery has been like taking care of a third child. It is a lot of work!” explains Monika. Today the estate has 125 hectares under vine. The winery produces more than 20 different wines. 2015 production was 700,000 bottles, making it one of Hungary’s largest wine producers. The proprietress likes to eat to live and cook so her objective is to produce food-friendly wines. The winery serves bistro food and picnic baskets for guests to enjoy with their wines. One of their popular items is pulled pork, which pairs well with their red and Rosé! This year they are planning to purchase a Big Green Egg smoker for producing barbecue events at the estate. Vylyan was the first winery to combine art and wine. This tradition is being continued today with the release of a new series of artist-created wine labels. As one of Hungary’s largest wine producers, Vylyan Vineyards and Winery has gained respect in the wine world for producing exceptional red wines, in particular Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc. Vylyan produces wines in three different levels: • Classic • Premium • Super Premium In the U.S., Vylyan Vineyards and Winery wines are imported by Blue Danube Imports in California.

Top Wines Tasted:

Vylyan KSZI 2015 Sparkling Rosé (4.5 out of 5 stars) Made from 100% Pinot Noir. It has delicate scents of strawberry and roses. Extra carbonated, fine bubbles — this wine is like velvet. Yylyan Chardonnay 2015 (4.5 out of 5 stars) Ultra gold color, light hint of oak with honeysuckle, caramel, Granny Smith apples, flowers and nice firm tannins. This is a perfect match with poultry or shellfish. Yylyan Pinot Noir 2011 (5 out of 5 stars) Crimson red, notes of raspberry, soufflé scents of eggs, ham and tobacco. Fleshy in the mouth with tastes of dark cherries. This is a meaty wine with a medium finish. One of the best reds tasted on this trip to Hungary. Yylyan Kékfrankos 2012 (4.5 out of 5 stars) Kékfrankos is the Hungarian name for Blaufränkisch, which is a late-ripening grape producing spicy characters in wine. Vylyan’s wine is maroon red, chalky, powdery with medium tannins and a respectable long finish. Yylyan Franc 2014 (4.5 out of 5 stars) Hungary meets Burgundy? Gorgeous scents of blueberry and cedar. Bright and bold with firm tannins and structure. Pair with filet mignon, lamb or venison. Must Visit! ***** Vylyan Vineyards and Winery Kisharsány, Fekete-hegy 092 hrsz, 7800 Hungary T:+36 72 579 701 https://www.vylyan.hu Vo l . 1 2 0 1 7

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TRAVEL : Touring and Tasting

Where to Eat: Tenkes Csárda Tenkes Csárda is a wine-centric Hungarian restaurant located near Vilany, housed in a building which dates back to the 18th century and is elegantly decorated. Servers are professional in their wine service and have an extensive list of Hungarian bottles. Chefs cook in a wood-burning oven, and the cuisine is traditional Hungarian with a flair! We had dinner here with Monika Debreczeni. Our starter was an artistically plated Foie Gras with jam. For our main course, she recommended we try the (Cock) Chicken Paprikash, which is made from rooster. It is a house specialty, gamey and rich. It paired well with Vylyan Pinot Noir. Tenkes Csárda Étterem 7811 Csarnóta, Kültelek hrsz 011, Hungary +36 72 424 057 https://www.facebook.com/maintenkes Where to Sleep: Bocor Inn The Inn was built in the heart of the Villány Wine region in the village of Kisharsány. Wine tourism is a growing market and the Bocor Inn provides an excellent base for touring and tasting throughout Villány.

The property also has a spa, swimming pool, a separate apartment building for extended family stays and an RV park. The Inn claims it is fully booked during the region’s summer wine festival season. Room rate in October: 20,000 (HUF) =$73 USD. 4.5 Stars – Highly Recommend Bocor Fogado (Inn) 7800 Kisharsány, Petőfi Sándor utca 33, Hungary Tel. +36 30/657 2757 http://www.bocorfogado.hu/

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Photos courtesy of Tenkes Csarda

Situated inside a walled-in compound, the guesthouse serves as a mini-hotel and has 9 modern guest rooms with a 24-hour reception desk. Breakfast is served every morning.


Szekszárd The village is known for its beautiful landscapes, churches, restaurants and of course wine. Szekszárd is one of the oldest wine regions in Hungary, and is known for its spicy, bold red wines. Kadarka is the most famous grape of the region. Nowadays the region is growing Bordeaux varietals alongside Kékfrankos, Pinot Noir and Zweigelt Location: 2 hours south of Budapest Area: 2210 hectares Top Producers: Takler Winery and Vida Vida Family Wine Estate Vida is a family-run business founded by Péter Vida. Today the family estate has 23 hectares under vine. His wife Agnes and now his son Péter are also working full time to expand the business. Sisters Kata and Zsusi also have wine in their veins and are taking active roles. In 2015, they produced 120,000 bottles of wine. New vineyard plantings will expand production to 250,000 bottles in the next few years. In 2011, Péter Sr. was named “Winemaker of The Year” by the Hungarian Wine Industry. Vida sells its wines to restaurants and directly to consumers. Their tiny size does not make it practical to host bus tours, although they do host small groups by appointment year round except in September and October. We visited the small estate during the busy harvest activities. Workers were sorting Kékfrankos grapes in the rain at a portable sorting table. Péter Sr. was busy in the throes of winemaking activities. We joined Péter Jr. for a delicious tasting in the main house, later touring Vida’s vast network of wine cellars. Wines Tasted: Vida Szekszardi Rose 2015 (4.5 out of 5 stars) Great salmon color, cotton candy and chalky Pinot Noir, Kékfrankos and Kadarka Vida Szekszardi Öregtőkék Kadarkája 2015 (4 out of 5 Stars) Made from 100% Kadarka. Light cherry color, soft and light red wine with soft tannins and a short finish. Vida Hidaspetre Kékfrankos 2014 (4.5 out of 5 Stars) Dark ruby, scents of mocha, leather, black currant and licorice. Chalky and fruity with a long finish. Vida Family Wine Estate 7100 Szekszárd, Napfény utca 27/A +36 74 317 753 nfo@vidaborbirtok.hu http://vidaborbirtok.hu/en Vo l . 1 2 0 1 7

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TRAVEL : Touring and Tasting

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Eger Eger is known worldwide as being ground zero for “Bull’s Blood,” Hungary’s most famous red wine. It is a blend based on the Kékfrankos grape. Luckily, the region has grown to achieve serious acclaim for producing some of Hungary’s finest wines. Most recently it has been called Hungary’s Burgundy. Eger is a beautiful town with the captivating Eger Castle, Cathedral and Baroque buildings. The majority of wine cellars in Eger are located south of the town in ‘Szépasszony-völgy’ (The Valley of the Beautiful Women). Shuttles are offered from the main square. Location: 1.5 hours northeast of Budapest Area: 4395 hectares Top Producers: Kovacs Nimrod, St. Andrea and Gál Vo l . 1 2 0 1 7

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Kovacs Nimrod Winery Nimrod Kovacs purchased the original winery from Pók Tamás in 2008. He renamed the winery the following year and added seven more buildings to the original, creating a significantly larger winery for increasing production and cellar areas. The original buildings were built during the 14th and 17th centuries. This “Urban Winery” is located in a Serbian neighborhood. They have a nice tasting room and can host wine dinners and special tasting events for groups. A must-visit for any serious wine enthusiast visiting the region. Kovacs Nimrod Vineyard is 32 hectares — 26 hectares are under vine. The vineyards are located in the Noszvaj village. Three terroirs are classified as Classic, Superior and Grand Cru (highest). The vineyard soil is primarily volcanic. Kovac’s vineyard managers practice organic farming techniques and farm dry, which makes things more difficult in their highest vineyard. • Nagy Eged (10 hectares – Grand Cru) Limestone-laden soils, Varietals: Furmint, Kékfrankos and Syrah • Nyilasmár (8 hectares – Premier Cru) Unique microclimate due to Lake Bogács Granite/Volcanic Soil, Varietals: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Kékfrankos • Nagyfai (12 hectares – Premier Cru) Volcanic Soil, Varietals: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Kékfrankos, Merlot and Cabernet Franc The oldest vines were planted in 2003. “These vines have gone to their deepest level now. They should start producing wines with increased minerality,” claims Peter Marezis, Vineyard Manager. Production is now at 110,000 bottles. Kovacs plans to increase to 120,000 bottles in the next two years.

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Nimrod Kovacs’ love of jazz music led to the creation of his elegantly designed Monopole Series Wines. Smart packaging and sharp names like Battonage, Noir, Rhapsody and Soul prove that drinking wine should be fun! Over the years he has employed several Hungarian and American winemakers and vineyard consultants. These have been long term investments but are starting to show promising results. Kovacs Nimrod Wines are winning numerous awards on the international scene as well as in Hungary. In 2016, KNW entered 6 different wines in the Denver International Wine Competition and all took gold medals scoring 91 or higher! On February 19, 2017, Kovacs Nimrod Winery was awarded Winery Of The Year at the 2016 Par Excellence awards by the Hungarian Sommelier Association. Favorite wines tasted: Kovacs Nimrod 2011 Furmint (4.5 out of 5 stars) Straw colored, dried peach and pears on the nose. A lovely soft wine with a medium long finish. Kovacs Nimrod Battonage 2013 Chardonnay (5 out of 5 stars) Perfect proof of the Hungarian Burgundy theory. Golden yellow, scents of Granny Smith apples, cantaloupe and apple pie. Kovacs Nimrod 2011 Rhapsody (4.5 out of 5 stars) Amazing, high-level take on “Bull’s Blood” without the bull! A blend of Kékfrankos, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah. Dark garnet, bright and bold dark fruits with spicy oak. Great medium finish. Kovács Nimród Pincészet   (5 stars) 3300 Eger, Verőszala utca 66, Hungary Tel. +36 36 537 232 http://kovacsnimrodwinery.com/?lang=USA WINE COUNTRY INTERNATIONAL

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TRAVEL : Touring and Tasting

St. Andrea Vineyards and Winery Established in Eger in 1999 by Dr. György Lőrincz, who named the vineyard after his wife Andrea. This highly-awarded winery has a reputation for making really great blended red wines at affordable prices. They have 45 hectares under vine and are working with 20 grape varieties. Annual production is 150,000 bottles now, but they are scaling up to 200,000 in the future. Favorite wines tasted: St. Andrea Boldogságos Cru Egri Cuvée Superior 2015 (4.5 out of 5 stars) “The Virgin Mary” — A blend of 4-7 grapes. Light straw/gold, very floral with tastes of white flowers and stone fruits. St. Andrea Merengo Egri Bikaver Superior 2012 (4 out of 5 stars) Dark purple color, scents of blueberries, dark chocolate and tobacco. Light acidity and tannins. This wine has a long way to go. St. Andrea Kékfrankos 2013 (4.5 out of 5 stars) Deep purple color, rich scents of blueberries, dark chocolate and cigar. A macho wine! ST. ANDREA VINEYARDS AND WINERY (4.5 stars) 3394 Egerszalók, Ady Endre út 88, Hungary Monday-Friday: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday-Saturday: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mobile: +36 30 6925860 Phone: +36 36 474 018 nfo@standrea.hu www.standrea.hu Recently opened! ST. ANDREA WINE & GOURMET BAR BUDAPEST 1055 Budapest, Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út 78, Hungary Monday-Friday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday: 6 p.m.-11 p.m. Phone: +36 1 269 0130 +36 30 488 2902 info@standreaborbar.hu www.standreaborbar.hu

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Where to Stay & Eat: Szenátor-Ház Hotel

Located in the historical Eger Town Square, this 18thCentury townhouse has been converted into a quaint hotel with a restaurant. It has 11 rustic rooms (single or double rooms) that overlook the famous Dobó square, located just yards away from the walkway that climbs to Eger Castle. Rooms include air conditioning, TV and complimentary WiFi. The staff is very friendly and accommodating. A delicious Hungarian breakfast buffet is included.

Recommended by locals:

The Imola Mansion Hotel and the Macon Bistro and Wine Bar Also located close to the Castle, this boutique hotel has 25 modern rooms. Its Bistro and Wine Bar carries the top wines of the Eger region. 3300 Eger, Tinódi Sebestyén tér 4, Hungary +36 516-180 http://www.imolaudvarhaz.hu/

Nomád Hotel

A rustic, romantic countryside resort with hotel rooms, bungalows and glamping tents. They offer a wide range of outdoor activities, a swimming pool and a highly-rated restaurant. Noszvaj, Sikfőkút út, 5-7., 3325 Hungary +36 36 463 363 http://www.nomadhotel.hu/

The restaurant offers hearty dishes like Buffalo Goulash Soup, Pork Tenderloin and Rosé-roasted duck breast with gizzard ragout and mashed potato. Szenátor-Ház Hotel (4 Stars) 3300 Eger, Dobó tér 11, Hungary Tel.: +36 36 411 711 http://www.senatorhaz.hu/ Vo l . 1 2 0 1 7

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TRAVEL : Touring and Tasting

Tokaj Tokaj is Hungary’s best-known region. It has long been known for producing world-class late harvest/botrytis (sweet) dessert wines. Tokaj is the world’s first vineyard classification system, established by royal decree in 1720. The Tokaj appellation was the world’s first appellation, established in 1757. Recently the region is enjoying a transformation from focusing on producing sweet wines to dry white Furmint wines made from the same varietal previously used for dessert wines. Furmint has become Hungary’s answer to Austria’s popular Grüner Veltliner. Dry Furmint is driven by minerals and intricate fruit flavors. It pairs well with chicken, seafood and cheese. Master Sommeliers are becoming its passionate spokespersons, praising the diversity and many styles that dry Furmint wines have to offer. Marketing efforts by an EU-funded Furmint USA have yielded expanded sales and recognition. http://furmintusa.com/ When you arrive in Tokaj you will pass through the symbolic TokajHegyalja World Heritage Gate. The area’s surrounding towns are taking steps to preserve their historical past while modernizing to accommodate wine tourism. Visiting for a day only allows you to get a very small taste of the region. To get a flavor of the region, we suggest visiting a very well done blog called Tokaj Today! http://www.tokajtoday.com/ Location: 2.5 hours northeast of Budapest Area: 5428 hectaresTop Producers: Szepsy, Patricius, Degenfeld and Barta, Patricius Tokaj

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Patricius Tokaj Winery Patricius Winery was founded in 2000 “as an oath to the future” by Dezsõ Kékessy and his daughter Katinka Kékessy. They have painstakingly built a world-class wine estate specializing in sweet Tokaj Aszu and a range of single-vineyard still dry wines. Winemaker and GM Peter Molnar, PhD has helped establish Patricius as one of the top tier new estates in the Tokaj-Hegyelja region. The estate is located in a valley, which experiences gentle breezes and crosswinds, providing protection from excess humidity. The soils are volcanic, which provides great nutrients to the grape vines. “It has taken 16 harvests and two generations to know the terroir here,” said Peter. Today they have 80 hectares under vine and produce between 150,000 and 200,000 bottles. Their wines are imported into the U.S. and distributed in 22 states. Their top selling wine is their dry Furmint. Favorite wines tasted: Patricius Furmint 2015 (4.5 out of 5 stars) Yellow straw color with scents of white flowers and apples. Wonderful crisp minerality with a long finish. Patricius Katinka 2013 (5 out of 5 stars) A noble late harvest wine made from a blend of Furmint, Muscat and Zenta. The grapes are purposely picked late when they are overripened and partly botrytized berries. Bright gold sheen with rich honey and apple flavors. This wine is decadent, well-balanced with a long finish. Patricius Aszu 2003 (5 out of 5 stars) Aged for 3 1/2 years in oak, then in the bottle. A wonderful chestnut/ caramel gold color. Baked apples, candied honey with nuances of menthol and tobacco. This is a masculine wine fit for a king! Note: The 2003 vintage is only available at the winery. The 2006 vintage is available in the U.S. Patricius Tokaj 3917 Bodrogkisfalud, Varhegy-dulo 3357 hrsz, HUNGARY hello@patrciustokaj.com http://www.patriciustokaj.com/ Vo l . 1 2 0 1 7

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Grof Degenfeld Castle Hotel Tarcal If you are looking for a luxurious place to stay, why not stay at a castle resort? The Degenfeld family is from Germany, but shares a special passion for wine and the Tokaj region. Their castle hotel, winery and restaurant are located among immaculate rows of picturesque grape vines. The estate is well maintained, with beautiful gardens, an outdoor pool and a tennis court. There are 22 well-appointed rooms with exquisite antique furnishings. Degenfeld wines are sold by the bottle at the front desk, making it convenient for guests to enjoy wine in their room. The restaurant offers a gourmet international menu integrated with local cuisine. Foodies may enjoy pairings of delectable cuisine with Grof Degenfeld wines! We tried Foie Gras with Aszu, creamy Shrimp Soup with Furmint and Broiled Carp with Zombarka. Grof Degenfeld Castle Hotel Tarcal (4.5 out of 5 stars) Tarcal, TerĂŠzia kert 9, 3915 Hungary Tel. +36 47 580 405 http://www.hotelgrofdegenfeld.hu

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Barta Winery Barta’s historic vineyard is located in the village of Mád on King’s Hill

Where to Eat:

(Király-hegy). Vines were first cultivated here in the 13th century. Today, part of the vineyard is totally hand cultivated and terraced with stone. Sadly, during the Soviet Occupation the vineyards were abandoned, but the Barta family purchased the vineyard in 2003 and restored it. Their winery is located in a historic 300-year old mansion that offers tastings as well as three exquisite well-appointed luxury suites. Favorite wines tasted: Barta Öreg Király Dűlő Furmint 2013 (4 out of 5 stars) Straw yellow color. Scents of minerals, tart apples and peaches. Medium-bodied with a great balance and long finish. Barta Öreg Király Dűlő Tokaji Fordítás 2008 (4.5 out of 5 stars)A special style of Tokaj sweet wine. Golden sheen color. A pleasant breath of fresh apples and caramel scents. Great balance and long finish. Barta Winery 3909 Mád, Rákóczi utca 83-85, Hungary +36 1 417 3248 info@bartapince.com http://bartapince.com/

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Első Mádi Borház Kft A wonderful wine bar and restaurant located near the vineyards in Mád. They offer small plates, soups and big dishes, and have an extensive selection of local wines for consuming at the restaurant, or for purchase and takeaway. We tried the beef neck consommé with a glass of Furmint. Mád, Hunyadi János u., 3909 Hungary Tel. +36 47 348 007 http://www.elsomadiborhaz.hu/ Where to Stay: Barta Pince Rákóczi-Aspremont Mansion Barta Guesthouse 3909 Mád, Rákóczi utca 83-85, Hungary Email: info@bartapince.com Tel. +36 1 417 3248 http://bartapince.com/en/accommodation/

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HungarianSpeak Hungarian Glossary

Hungarian Wine Glossary

Aszú: dessicated, raisined, referring to botrytized dessert wine Bor: wine Borkostolás: wine tasting shop Bormester: sommelier Borozó: wine bar Csárda: tavern Étterem: fine restaurant Étlap: menu Különleges: special quality (seen on labels) Minosegi: quality (seen on labels) Palack: bottle Pálinka: brandy distilled from fruit or grape must (Törköly) Panzió: Pension or guesthouse Pince: cellar Pogácsa: cheese scone served with wine Preshaz: press house Puttony(os): wooden hod carrying 25 kilos of Aszú grapes, used as unit of sugar/quality measurement Sörözo: pub Szolo: grapes, vineyard Tár/Út/Útca: avenue, road, street Válogatás: selection (similar to reserve) Vendáglo: another term for fine Restaurant

White

Major International Varietals: Red

Cabernet Franc: Cabernet Sauvignon: Merlot: Pinot Noir: Zweigelt: White Chardonnay: Muscat Lunel: Muscat Ottonel: Pinot Gris: Sauvignon Blanc: Welschriesling:

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Best in Szekszárd, Villány Best in Villány, Szekszárd Best in Szekszárd, Villány Best in Villány, Eger (Austrian grape with good tannic structure) Best in Villány, Eger, Szekszárd Best in Eger, Mátraalja, Etyek-Buda (aka Sárga Muskotály) Third grape of Tokaj lightest in color and aroma of the family; best in Eger, Mátraalja, Balatonboglár (aka Szürkebarát) Best in Badacsony, Balaton, Mátraalja Best in Etyek-Buda, Mátraalja (aka Olaszrizling, not related to the noble Riesling; planted throughout Central Europe, noted for high acidity and perfume) Best in Ászár-Neszmály, Badacsony, Balatonfüred

Cserszegi Fõszeres: Fragrant, spicy hybrid of Irsai Olivár (itself a cross) and Gewürztraminer. Best in Etyek-Buda, Ászár-Neszmály, Balatonmelláke Fehárszolo: Ancient grape once used in Tokaji. Devastated by phylloxera, but some roots remain. Government recommended propagation in 1998 Furmint: Principle grape in Tokaj, also makes fine dry wines. Floral, fiery, spicy, high acidity. Best in Tokaj, also Somló Hárslevelu: Second grape of Tokaj (also dry versions); translates to linden leaf; highly aromatic, spicy, acidic, full-bodied. Best in Tokaj, also Somló, Siklós Irsai Olivár: Hybrid of Pearl of Csaba and Pozsony, noted for early reliable ripening, deeply aromatic. Best in Azsár-Neszmály, Etyek-Buda, Pannonhalma Juhfark: Translated as Sheep’s Tail, increasingly rare, known for high acidity, fragrance and aging potential. Best in Somló, Balatonfüred Káknyelu: Translated as Blue Stem (for the unique hue), very rare, single-sexed flower making it difficult to grow and low yielding; complex bouquet, lively acids. Best in Badacsony Királyleányka: Originated in Transylvania (while part of Hungary), translated as Princess; a cross producing Muscat-like bouquet, full body, light acidity. Best in Eger, Ászár Neszmály, Pannonhalma Leányka: Grown throughout Romania and Hungary. Vigorous growth, pleasant bouquet, medium acidity. Best in Eger, Mór Sárfehár: Translates as White Mud (echoing the soil it favors), very rare, intensely perfumed. Best in Somló Záta: (fka Oremus) 1951 cross between Furmint and Bouvier, approved for Tokaji in 1990, ripens much earlier than Furmint (4-6 weeks)

Red Kákfrankos: (aka BlaufrŠnkisch, Limberger) Origin unknown, very popular in Austria, high acidity, good tannin, deep color, peppery taste. Adapts well to various conditions and grown all over Hungary, excellent rosás as well. Best: Szekszárd, Sopron, Eger, Villány Kákoportó: (aka Blauer Portugieser, not related to Portugal’s Port varieties) Prolific, hardy, in Hungary shows deep color, smooth tannins, good aging potential. Will have to change name due to EU concessions. Best: Villány, Eger, Szekszárd Kadarka: Hungary’s most famous red, nearly eradicated by Communists, making a comeback, especially in traditional Bikavárs; vigorous but prone to various rots and ripens dangerously late. Also responds well to botrytis, creating dessert wines. Light smooth tannins, good acidity, intense red fruit/spicy aromas and flavors. Best: Szekszárd

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Parting Shots

Rosé Rising! In 1991, when Morley Safer aired his French Paradox segment on CBS’s 60 Minutes, he showed that the French ate as much or more fatty foods than Americans, but suffered 3 times less heart attacks. Studies in France found that drinking red wine had a major impact on the health of the French. When the show aired, it sparked a major boom in the sales of red wine in the United States. Today, more French drink rosé wines than white wines. Today’s most popular style rosé are dry and appealing to red wine lovers. American’s are following the French again. In 2014, rosé became the hottest selling category in the US wine industry, with double digit growth. Four countries now represent 80% of the world production France, Spain, USA and Italy.

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Profile for Wine Country Network, Inc

Wine Country International Magazine 2017_1  

Wine Country International editors revisit Hungary after first visiting 13 years ago. We used Budapest as our main base for the week when...

Wine Country International Magazine 2017_1  

Wine Country International editors revisit Hungary after first visiting 13 years ago. We used Budapest as our main base for the week when...