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Exotic dry white wine from Hungary

Northside Staff Tasters: Dave Pohl, ed., Dana Malley, Jason Wentworth, and Michelle Oakes

Most American wine drinkers' familiarity with the wines of Hungary is limited to Egri Bikaver ("Bull's Blood") and the sweet dessert wine of Tokaji. Yet Hungary's wine growing districts produce a wide range of wines in varying styles, many made from grapes little known outside of Hungary.

Recently, the staff at Northside Wine and Spirits tasted twenty-two Hungarian wines produced or distributed by Monarchia, a winery and merchant company based in Budapest. The wines, as a group, were highly distinctive and interesting to taste. The staff's favorite wine was indeed produced from a little known grape variety called Irsai Olivier, a grape possibly related to Muscat.

The 2004 Nyakas Olivier, $11 per bottle, was produced in the Buda-Etyek region, about twelve miles southwest of Budapest. Nyakas was a cooperative during Hungary's Communist era, but was privatized in 1990. A new winery, devoted solely to the production of white wine, was built in 1997.

The 2004 Olivier has an exotic aroma that just leaps from the glass like some wonderful combination of Muscat and Riesling. With such a flowery nose, the bone dry palate comes as a bit of a surprise. The wine's steely, citrus and apple flavors finish with a lingering hint of lime.

Try this lovely wine with your favorite seafood dishes, including sashimi. It would also pair well with a tangy goat's milk cheese or pasta with a cheesy sauce.

"Top Wine Picks" as seen in The Ithaca Journal 10/24/05

Northside Wine & Spirits is located at the Ithaca Shopping Plaza on Elmira Road.

Phone 607-273-7500

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