From Europe, with love

Published on August 8, 2014

There are several new listings at the NLC recently. With more than 3,000 wines available, you would think I have plenty to choose from, but I still like to see the fresh labels, especially when they are something a little unusual.

Hungary is most famous for its sweet Tokaji wines which, at various times, graced the royal courts of Europe.

For those of the right age, it is equally well known for a somewhat rough and ready red wine called Egri Bikaver, also known as Bull’s Blood. This new listing, Jaszbery Szekszardi Kekfrankos (NLC $12.95) bears only a passing resemblance to that old standard.

The Kekfrankos grape, known outside Hungary as the Blaufrankisch, is capable of producing wines with good levels of tannins and acids combined with flavours of bramble fruits, earth and spice.

The flavours lend themselves also to a softer, easy-drinking style of wine with hardly a hint of tannin, such as is the case with this selection.

Pleasantly fragrant and sippable, the Jaszbery should suit those who have trouble with tannins in red wines. Score 14/Good.

Sticking with central Europe and red wine, another new listing is a Pinot Noir from Germany, the Villa Wolf 2012 (NLC $18.99).

Most people don’t associate red wines with Germany, although there are more than a half dozen labels on our own shelves.

This particular wine is from the Pfalz region which is just north of France’s Alsace region. In Alsace the only red wine is also made from Pinot Noir.

Considering the northerly location, the wines of Alsace and Pfalz by necessity must concentrate on elegance and fragrance rather than power and body.

Such is the case with this Wolf wine, which showed a wonderful dark cherry fruit nose with some spice and vanilla to increase the interest. Once again this a light wine suitable for sipping and avoiding tannins. Score 14.5/Good.

With all the fine summer weather we have had the unusual experience of eating outdoors evening after evening. There has been a real European feeling to such dinners, which suggested we should try another new listing, this time from France.

Apparently Blanc Limé (NLC $17.97) used to be a favourite café drink in France. It has recently been revived and grown in popularity with the younger set.

That’s not a surprise to me since this is a light, low-alcohol, off-dry wine with a light spritziness which typically appeals to newer wine drinkers.

What did surprise me was that I enjoyed it sitting on the back deck on a warm evening, especially as a pairing with a dessert of fresh fruit and a dab of ice cream.

The soft mousse and fresh flavours seemed just right with the sweet fruit.

The beverage starts with a basic Bordeaux blanc based on Sauvignon Blanc to which is added some citrus and floral flavours, some sugar and secret ingredients.

Bottled with a shot of carbon dioxide bubbles, it is ready for immediate drinking. Score 14/Good.

Steve Delaney is a member of the Opimian Society. Email him


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