Dammit Wine

November 15, 2007

The other day I went into my local wine store to pick up some every-day table wines. The guy smiling on the picture (if you click on the above), who happens to extract millions from me every month, haha, tells me that they just got several new shipments. I guess it is that time of the year. They had many new wines I had never heard of and one of these was St. Andrea’s A Kutya Fajat 2006. A Kutya Fajat literally means the tree of the dog in Hungarian, but really this is the equivalent expression for the English “Damn it”. What a name for a wine!? I loved it and of course had to get a bottle.

First of all I have to say I am biased about the wine as I love the winery, St. Andrea. St. Andrea is one of the most edgy and progressive wineries in Hungary. They are brave, they innovate, they are really pushing the edge of the traditional Eger region. I mean how can you call a wine “Damn It”?

Damn it is a cuvee of Kekfrankos, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. I guess you could call it a Bordeaux style blend, but the taste is distinctly different and in a good way. This is a medium bodied blend, quite fruit forward, a bit of cherries, fairly simple, but not empty, it does have substance probably partially due to the fact that it spent 12 months in oak barrels. It is the perfect table wine can you drink any night, summer or winter and it is also very flexible to pair with food. It is what I would call a happy wine. It is fruity, tastes great, does not make you think, and it is inexpensive. What a great combo.

These guys, St. Andrea, also make some really fantastic Bull’s Blood (not that cheap stuff you remember from 20 years ago), Pinot Noir and a higher-end Bordeaux style blend called Merengo. Merengo is a plush wine and while I do not have one on hand, I will probably get a bottle and write it up over the next few months. Cheers.

Name: St. Andrea, A Kutya Fajat, 2006

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Body: Medium

Price: 7 euros

Got it at: Bortarsasag, Budapest, Hungary

St. Andrea, A Kutya Fajat, 2006

Shiraz-Cabernet

November 8, 2007

You should always do what you do best. In the case of Australians and wine this means Shiraz. These days it is a hip thing to make wine from the Rhone varietal Syrah and call it Shiraz, but really this should be reserved for the Australians, just like Champagne is reserved for the region around Rheims, France.

I like Australian Shiraz. Yes, it is a fruit bomb, yes, it is not very sophisticated or elegant but it is damn good. It just tastes good, it invigorates every tastebud in your mouth, it just takes over from the time it enters your mouth. The other funny thing about Shiraz is that I never had a bad one. Somehow Australians tend to make decent wine, in that most do not rock my socks off, but they never disappoint. You have an expectation and an Australian wine virtually always meets it. I cannot say this for many other nations frankly, as I cannot count how many times I have been disappointed with wines from France, Italy, Hungary, Austria and I could go on. The old world makes some of the most incredible wines in the world, but they also make some of the worst. This is not so much the case with the new world and definitely not with Australia. Maybe the weather? Or is it culture?

I am babbling about this because we picked up a bottle from one of Australia’s largest producers, Penfolds. It is not a pure Shiraz but a blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, and it is from their low-end range of Rawson’s Retreat. The wine is cheap (about 8 euros) yet it meets that quality standard you would expect and actually get with Australian wines. It is fruity (very fruity), you discover some dark plumb, maybe a bit of coffee and has strong spicy nose, maybe with a hint of liquorice . You can distinctly taste both the Shiraz and the Cab in this wine, which makes it somewhat interesting. If you do not feel like you want to get out of your comfort zone and do not want to spend a fortune on an expesive Napa Cab, I suggest you grab one of these bottles. It will meet your expectation.

Name: Penfolds Shiraz Cabernet, Rawson’s Retreat, 2006

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Body: Full

Price: 8 euros

Got it at: Bortarsasag, Budapest, Hungary

Penfolds Shiraz Cabernet, Rawson’s Retreat, 2006