Monday, September 10, 2007

Hungary? How about turkey chile?

No, it is not that I can’t spell correctly or that the weather is getting cooler. These are three distinct wine regions unfamiliar to most people.

The land of Hungary has a climate and a wide variety of soil types that have made it a wine making region going back to the Celts in the 3rd century A.D. The Romans brought the first vine-shoots to the fertile land of the Carpathian Basin and they established vineyards. In the 16th century, the Tokaj region planted aszu grapes that were prone to botrytis. They were harvested later, producing the sweet white wines for which the region is still renowned. We tried a 2006 Donausonne from the Blaufrankisch grape, which is known for its peppery character. It was a sweet, extremely aromatic pale red wine with 11% alcohol. Although not my choice for sipping, it may pair well with authentic dishes that are flavorful, spicy with lots of paprika and garlic and often rather heavy.

Turkey was the center of ancient wine tradition. In its hilly landscape, a multitude of vines flourish. The best whites are from the vines of Hasandede, Narince and Emir. Some of the wine regions are the Aegean Sea Costal Region, East Anatolia, South Anatolia and Ankara. The best wines come from the Yakut, the Dikmen and most notably, a red wine from Kavaklidere.

The wine lands of Chile are located in the center of the country, stretching 250 miles north and 350 miles south of the capital city of Santiago. Chile’s fine wine production lies in the heart of this lengthy expanse in the Aconcagua and Central Valleys.

Chile was explored and settled by the Spanish in the 16th century and was introduced to wine culture by the importation of the Mission grape, a vinifera vine that followed the church during the early days of colonization. In Chile, this grape is called the País. There is not an indigenous grape but two varieties are widely grown, Sauvignon Vert, a less-aromatic clone of Sauvignon Blanc, and much of what was thought to be Merlot is actually Carmenere, a grape variety that once played a significant role in the red Bordeaux blend. The nose has aromas of musk, berry jam with a hint of vanilla. The palate is a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with lovely sweet oak. Some of the top Chilean wine producers are: Concha y Toro, Veremonte, Montes, Santa Rita, Los Vascos and Carmen.

So, what wine would you drink with your turkey chili?