Friday, December 17, 2010
Going To Grape Pains -- Hungarian Wine In Prague
The two wines I tasted: The 2007 Jackfall Totagas and the 2009 Szucs Portugieser.
If I told you there were a couple of American guys in Prague who will deliver interesting and reasonably priced Hungarian wines to your doorstep -- by hand and for free, in rain, snow, or sleet -- would you believe me?
When the guys at Boden Fine Wines first e-mailed me, I didn't believe them either. But you know what? It's true.
Brett Aarons, 36, and Luke Bodenschatz, 28, are two guys with regular non-wine day jobs who've lived in Prague since 1997 and 2006, respectively, and who just happen to be obsessed with Hungary and Hungarian wines.
"We both love Budapest and have been there many times," Brett told me. "Early on, we realized how good the wine is there, a highlight of every trip to Hungary. Finally, a visit to Pecs and Villany -- the southernmost wine region in Hungary -- convinced us to start bringing this fantastic wine to Prague, where the red wines available leave much to be desired, especially for those on a budget."
Brett says they're trying to introduce the wines they love to a skeptical Prague market.
"No supermarket Bull's Blood, and we only try to compete with reasonable Czech white wines when we find a good one for a good price," he says. "Our strongest suit is red wine. Our margins are embarrasingly low."
They don't have a store. All their wines (20 or so different varieties, ranging in price from 150-500 CZK per bottle) are imported and stored in a cellar in Old Town somewhere. They're big fans of the Jackfall vineyard and are Jackfall's exclusive sellers in the Czech Republic.
Brett (left), vintner Jeno Szucs, and Luke during a visit to the Szucs winery in Villány, Hungary.
I ordered six bottles a few weeks back -- including three of the 2007 Jackfall Totagas (150 CZK). Totagas is a cuvee of cabernet sauvignon and franc, with a little merlot.
"Totagas exemplifies the kind of wine Boden Fine Wines looks for – a refined taste, not overly fruity, suitable for ‘fancy’ meals but affordable for everyday drinking," Brett told me.
I also ordered three bottles of the peppery Szucs Portugieser (150 CZK). Szucs is their other favorite Hungarian vineyard.
While they weren't quite as big and beefy as some of the South American and South African reds that I like to drink, both wines were smooth and drinkable and excellent values. Since I live outside of Prague, Luke met me outside the Dejvicka metro station with two fancy bags full of wine. Now that's what I call service!
The guys even host wine-tastings on occasion. The last one was at the Maximilian Hotel on November 24. They've also got a Facebook page under Boden Fine Wines.
If you're interested in supporting a worthy cause, send the guys an e-mail at email@example.com.
I know I'll be placing another order quite soon.