Updated: Oct 16, 2021
This past week in Europe has reminded me why I love what I do and how wine, food and people are such a symbiotic and beautiful pairing that gives great meaning to life.
I started the trip with a visit to the wine estate in Tuscany that I designed three years ago and have not had a chance to visit since Covid. As I drove through the Tuscan countryside, past millennia-old Etruscan hill towns, the estate emerged, and I was able to see the vines, which follow tiny pleats and folds in the geology, lying silently underground, waiting to find their voice in a glass of wine.
Later that evening, sitting with the Estate wine team and some new friends from Iceland, we grilled wild boar sausages made by a neighbor over the open fire and drank great Italian wines. It was a simple evening, but so magical as friendships were deepened and new ones made.
Next, I was off to Stockholm, where the autumn air was turning crisp and golden leaves were beginning to fall. I met up with my Swedish friend, Per, with whom I spent great childhood times with but have not seen for 40 years. Time was immaterial as we laughed and reminisced over a magnificent bowl of roasted mushroom soup with leek and sage dumplings and, of course, a glass of wine.
Now I’m in Amsterdam where I am sharing the wines of Rose and Arrow Estate – the same project behind the Alit wines many of you love – with passionate wine enthusiasts. I am always blown away by the effect that wine made with authenticity and respect for the terroir at its purest level has on people. At one tasting this week, I witnessed one of the guests in a moment of true vulnerability, moved to tears by one of the wines. This expression of authenticity is at the heart of how we select our wines for Wine Friends and is our service to you all.
On that note, this week’s wine is a wonderful, unfiltered Austrian wine from the Furmint grape, made by one of Austria’s most respected winemakers, Michael Wenzel: Wenzel Furmint Aus Dem Quarz 2019 ($30) is bright and vivacious, and offers a window into this native Hungarian varietal that is so exciting to explore. Planted in soils of slate, gneiss and quartz (hence the name “coming from quartz”) around Lake Neusiedl, Wenzel's vines are some of the only Furmint growing in Austria.
A beautiful cloudy gold color, this natural wine has notes of apples, quince, light lemon peel and herbs with a lovely flinty minerality. Wenzel's Furmint is a wonderful counterpart to his Wild + Free VooDoo Child orange wine -- another outstanding example of this talented winemaker’s dedication to caring for the land and letting the terroir speak through his minimalist winemaking techniques. Quantities are limited so don't wait to try it!