When discussing Old World winemaking countries, talk almost automatically turns to France, Italy or Germany. But winemaking can actually be traced back thousands of years to Georgia where the traditional clay qvevri are usually buried during fermentation and aging. There’s also Croatia, the home of Crljenak Kaštelanski ⏤ a grape that’s genetically the same as Zinfandel ⏤ and its offspring, the popular red Plavac Mali. Hungary is, of course, well-known for its Tokaji wines. Georgia, Croatia and Hungary have each developed their own unique flavors and terroir that can only come with time. Here are nine bottles to try from these historical regions.
Mildiani 2012 Saperavi (Kakheti); $45, 91 points. This inky garnet colored wine offers aromas of black currant and fennel bulb. Forest berry flavors are joined by notes of pomegranate, cured meat and thyme, with a sophisticated sense of smokiness across the palate. Firm tannins are interrupted by a splash of cranberry on the finish. Georgian House of Greater Washington, LLC.—Mike Desimone
Lukasi 2014 Saperavi (Kakheti); $45, 91 points. This wine offers aromas of black plum and smoke. Flavors of black cherry, bacon and oregano are joined by a vein of cranberry just prior to the long finish. While the tannins feel a bit grippy at first sip, a sense of brightness prevails across the entire palate. Georgian House of Greater Washington, LLC.—M.D.
Schuchmann Wines 2016 Saperavi (Kakheti); $13, 89 points. Deep violet-red in color, this wine has aromas of raspberry and iodine. The palate is a touch chewy at first, but that feeling is more than made up for by bright acidity, flavors of blackberry, strawberry, mocha and sage that lead to a juicy finish. Georgian House of Greater Washington, LLC. Best Buy.—M.D.
Korta Katarina 2008 Reuben’s Private Reserve Premium Red (Peljesac); $58, 90 points. This aged wine has aromas of stewed prune, orange zest, Mediterranean herbs and tobacco that lead to flavors of cinnamon, black licorice, stewed fruit and dried plum. It has a persistent finish, with a nice splash of acidity. Katharine’s Garden LLC.—Jeff Jenssen
Korta Katarina 2009 Plavac Mali (Peljesac); $38, 89 points. This Plavac Mali has aromas of black plum, caramelized orange peel, black cherry and licorice. In the mouth, there are flavors of black cherry, licorice and finely ground black pepper. Katharine’s Garden LLC.—J.J.
Casic 2015 100% Organic 100% Unforgettable Graševina (Croatia); $28, 87 points. This wine shows aromas of apple blossom and gooseberry. On the palate there are flavors of yellow peach and apricot before the ripe finish. Divine Imports LLC.—J.J.
Barta 2015 Öreg Kiraly Dulo Mád Furmint (Tokaj); $39, 91 points. Aromas of ripe pineapple, peach, honey comb and acacia flowers draw you in to this enticingly complex, dry Furmint. On the palate, there are delightful flavors of freshly sliced yellow peach and canned apricots. It is well balanced, with a slight touch of sweetness on the finish. New Wines of Hungary—J.J.
Kvaszinger 2016 Estate Furmint (Tokaj); $23, 90 points. Aromas of honeysuckle and jasmine carry the nose. The palate is bright in flavors of pineapple, lemon zest and apricot, with a crisp, clean finish. New Wines of Hungary.—J.J.
Erzsébet Pince 2016 Estate Dry Furmint (Tokaj); $N/A, 90 points. This dry Furmint has delightful aromas of jasmine, apple blossom and gooseberry. On the palate, there are flavors of white peach, lemon, lime and apricot. There is a touch of salinity on the crisp finish. Swirl Wine Brokers.—J.J.