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Portugieser 2011 Villany

Portugieser – not from Portugal
Most surprising factoid about the grape called “Portugieser” is that it is found in many countries, none of which are Portugal. Neither is the grape from the Iberian afterthought. Somewhere in the Austria/Germany/Hungary/Slavic world is where this grape thrives and is probably indigenous to.

Famous as an overstatement
Villany in the Hungarian south is where this particular grape makes a bit of Hungarian splash (next only to the Hungarian water polo team of oft-golden Olympic fame). Close to the Croatian border, Wikipedia might call this town “famous” but it seems not to have caught on entirely in the rest of the world. Fortunately, Blue Danube Wine is pushing hard to change our West-o-oenophilic bias and is introducing all kinds of unpronouncable grapes to the Eastern seashore of the USA. Welcome Portugieser.

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Light body with little nose, bit harsher finish than pinot possibly due to higher alcohol (note- checked bottle and only 12.5% but tastes higher). Dark fruit taste, blackberry especially. Long finish with some tannins. Better with food than on its own.

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Attila Gere – Portugieser 2011 from Villany, Hungary 12.5% alc.

Random Googles
* Portugieser makes #6 on the Top Ten Hungarian Grapes List
* Villany, the town known for its red wine like this Portugieser, is a word derived from lightning.
* Kákoporto – the other name for Portugieser, seems to also have an identity crisis related to Portugual’s most famous Oporto city.

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Explanation Essential

Cserszegi Fűszeres requires a lot of explanation. There’s one bottle and one bottle only that I’ve ever seen with this grape (yes, this is a grape, not a Polish hot dish). Might be the only bottle in the USA also as the importer shows up as hit #3 when you google the grape name.

Pronounce Please
So, first things first – pronunciation. Cserszegi Fűszeres is “chair-say-ghy, foo-seh-resh.” Chair, say, ghy – foo, seh, resh. Even saying it out loud is on the difficult side. Personally, I picture a sage Ali G sitting on a chair saying “foo, seh, resh.” It’s the only way to remember this grape. Difficult, foo-seh-resh.

Ali G in a Chair
Then, where does this impossible to pronounce Ali G arrive from? Hungary, land of famed dessert wines and unknown white wines. This is one of those unknown white wines, much harder to remember than Furmint, that’s for sure. Chair, Ali G – Foo seh resh.

European Indiana
Hungary, though not a large country (it’s slightly smaller than Indiana), does have several wine regions. But then, the same can be said for Indiana. Hungary though boasts 22 wine regions dotted across its Indiana-shaped hide. One of those 22 regions even produces the most-awesomely-named wine: “Bull’s Blood.” If you ever find yourself in the Eger region of Hungary, ask for Bull’s Blood. Please report back.

Today’s wine comes from Neszmely, better known as the region on the edge of Hungary that’s almost in Slovakia. Not Slovenia – that’s the other side. Slovakia, featured in Eurotrip as the country of post-Communist gloom and splendor. Next to Slovakia, one finds Neszmely, an hour’s drive north of Budapest.

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2009 Hilltop Winery “Craftsman” Cserszegi Füszeres from Neszmely, Hungary

Full, round nose of peaches – smells like a big bodied white but *trickery* it tastes really acidic with grapefruit and lemon coming out swinging an enormous bat. Disjointed as it sounds, it’s great for that bait-and-switch shock that your wino-friend never expected. Well played, Cserszegi Fűszeres, well played.

Personally, not my favorite white. I don’t like being tricked and this one sucker-punched me. Sure, I’ll go back for seconds and see if it’s just this bottle and not the grape. Might get punched again – we’ll see.

Google Randoms:
* Cserszegi Fűszeres has Gewurtz as a parent – hence, the big Cyrano nose.
* Cserszegi Fűszeres received the award for “White Wine of the Year“… in Britain… in 1998.
* Listen to the legend of Bull’s Blood – invading marauders and children be afraid.

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Hungry for Hungary
Eew – somehow the pun of Hungry and Hungary has managed to jump the couch, even for lovers of lousy puns like myself. Fortunately, the grapes behind this wine save the day. Furmint, the undisputed queen of Hungary is the famous partner in this duo, and Harslevelu is somehow forgotten, likely due to the unpronouncable nature of the grape. Hars-level-u. That’s how I’ll remember it.

Furmint though is the centerpiece of this wine, even though clocking in at only 50% of the grape content. Next to the Hungary Water Polo team, this could be the finest item to emerge EVER from Hungary. Tokaji isn’t this wine but you could be mistaken from the bottle since that Tokaj looks awfully like Tokaji.

Tokaji is rightly the pride of Hungary, so much so that it’s mentioned in the Hungarian national anthem. To quote: “On Tokaj’s vine stalks you have dripped nectar.” Rightly sung, Hungary. Rightly sung. This wine dates back to nearly the Hapsburgs and has produced exceptional wine ever since. Actually, ALMOST ever since since apparently there was a big Communist 40-year fling when all the grapes had to be blended together and the wine ended up mediocre. This being before my wine-drinking time, you’ll have to take the capitalists’ word for it.


Furmint gets talked about a lot with its dessert wines, and Harslevelu generally gets treated as the kid with the last name Zhang in elementary school. Last alphabetically and forgotten about by other (luckier) kids with more alphabetically-inclined names, Harslevelu is somewhat intriguing as being a crucial, if lesser known component, of the great Hungarian wines. Described by wikiwriters as “intense aroma of spice, pollen and elderflowers,” this wine pretty much hits all the big things that drew me to wine. Plus, it has a facebook page. 9 people even like it – that’s almost double digits. Still, if you ever see that there’s a 100% Harslevelu available, please mail it immediately. Post will be paid.

So, 50% Furmint, 50% Hars-level-u, from Hungary, from Tokaj. Smells and looks light but BIG peach with pear throughout and big sweetness that fills up the mouth. Long lasting sweet peach finish. Could be in Savannah with Ty Cobb sipping on sweet tea and spiked cleats.

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Hetszolo Tokaj Late Harvest 2007

Random Googles
* Only six grapes are approved for Tokaji: Furmint, Harslevelu, Yellow Muscat, Zeta, Koverszolo, and Kabar.
* Together, Furmint and Harslevelu constitute 90% of the wine in Aszu, fabled wine region of Hungary
* King Louix XIV incorrectly termed Tokaji the “Wine of Kings.” Catherine the Great led by example in sending soldiers to protect the vineyards. Hence, it’s the “Wine of Queens.”

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