Charleston Style and Design

FALL 2015

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174 CS D Hárslevelü. Furmint is an interesting grape from a viticultural per- spective. It produces lots of sugar, complemented by heal- thy acidity. Dry wines made from Furmint tend to be high in alcohol—around 14 percent. It ripens late and is susceptible to mold. First Rated Hungary has a long history of winemaking—1,500 years or more. Writer Karen MacNeil notes that enterprising Magyars established "the frst system for classifying wine on the basis of quality" in about 1730. This was in order to protect and promote the celebrated sweet wines of the Tokaj-Hegyalja region. Like other European coun- tries, Hungary was hit hard by phylloxera toward the end of the 19th century. (Phylloxera is a tiny aphid-like insect that feeds on the roots of Vitis vinifera vines.) The Hungarian wine industry had barely begun to recover from phylloxera when the tumult of two world wars, the Great Depression and civil strife sidetracked development. During the subsequent Communist period, wine pro- duction was controlled by the state, with the results one might expect. Things began to turn around after the Communists were ousted. The Royal Tokaji Wine Company (royal-tokaji.com), established in 1990, has been one of the leaders of Hungary's post-Communist enological renaissance. The company was inspired and founded by Hugh Johnson, the noted author and wine historian. According to Royal Tokaji, Johnson's goal was to revive and bring back to international acclaim the wines of one of history's most renowned wine regions—wines that "would make angels sing out loud in praise." A former singer myself, I decided to assess the potential to inspire vocalism of these unusual elixirs. Dry Royal Tokaji has been produc- ing varietal Furmint wines for a decade or more. The company recently gave its dry Furmint a new name. Royal Tokaji The Oddity Furmint 2013 ($17) is more unfamiliar than odd, reminiscent somehow of Sauvignon Blanc or even unoaked Chardonnay from the south of France, but differ- ent. About 60 percent of the wine was fermented and aged in barrels of Hungarian oak; the remainder in stainless steel. The Oddity is elegant and tasty, pale in color, with a lilting bouquet of citrus and honeysuckle. Its rich, mouth-flling favor alludes 8 9 subtly to its oak heritage, and at the same time offers twinkles of citrus, mineral nuances and food-friendly acidity. After a while one may notice restrained pear and apple favors. We enjoyed the Oddity with broiled cod, with which it paired very well. The wine's crisp acid- ity nicely balanced the melted butter on the fsh. We realized too late that we should have served the Oddity with chicken paprika, which would have been a really amazing combination. Royal Tokaji suggests pairing it with Asian food. Slightly Sweet Mád is a village near the town of Tokaj where, according to Royal Tokaji, "noble wine produc- ers have gathered to conduct business and merry-making for centuries." Mád once was the home of a thriving Jewish com- munity, now gone. It is the site of a baroque synagogue, con- structed in 1795, that the World 8. One of Royal Tokaji's cellars. 9. Royal Tokaji 5 Puttonyos Aszú with peach tart.

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