With the exception, perhaps, of Tom Jones, who has covered up the chest rug and put the medallion away in favour of a rootsy, silver fox vibe that we defy man, woman or beast not to find attractive, comebacks are rubbish. When Blue resurfaced, despite their best efforts to look boyish and carefree, their concerns about mortgage repayments were written all over their faces. However, when it comes to wine, it’s never too late for a comeback and, like Muhammad Ali bouncing back off the rope in the Rumble in the Jungle, Romania, Hungary and Austria are about to wipe the floor with the competition..
Now, whatever your views about baggy gold trousers, you have to admit that MC Hammer really made his mark. Plus, anyone who comes up with lines like ‘This is it, for a winner / dance to this and you’re gonna get thinner’ has our profound respect. Like Hammer – real name Stanley Kirk Burrell – Romanian wine was massive in the 1980s and its soft, juicy Pinots are remembered fondly by many. Also like SKB, who filed for bankruptcy after getting hugely into debt, Romania suffered financial woes that all but crippled its wine industry (unlike SKB this was not down to its frivolous ways). But wineries like Budureasca are putting it firmly back on the map. Its exquisite, quince-powered Vine in Flames honours the 2,000-year-old myth that the area’s vineyards were burned to deter invaders… talk about Phoenixes and ashes. We’d elaborate, but we can’t Stop – (it’s) Hungary time.
Hungarian wine's reputation has always been dominated by two characters; Bull’s Blood and Tokaj. Bull’s Blood is a red wine that veers between brilliant and terrible and is steeped in bloody myth, while Tokaj is mesmeric and golden and owes its sweetness to the mould that grows on the grapes. “Variable quality? Messy history? Inset rot? That must make them the Fleetwood Mac of the wine world!” you cry… And how right you are. Like The Mac, who have sorted their act out and are currently skipping bare-foot through their comeback tour, we have some fresh takes on these two wines. Titi is an enchanting expression of Bull's Blood, all black cherries and star anise and Dry by Tokaj is a dry version of the famous dessert wine (no points for guessing that). When made traditionally, sans mould, the grapes can create joyful, orchard-fruited, orange blossom-scented stars like this. Anyway, we don’t want to break The Chain, so here’s our last comeback kid…
Not to get sinister on y’all, but this is a shadowy, Third Man kind of comeback. A vinous scandal in the 1980s knocked Austria’s wine industry for six, but it has now resumed its place as the pint-sized powerhouse of wine. It is apt, then, that the Austrian-set film noir classic, The Third Man, has just been rereleased on DVD and Blu Ray, along with other vintage classics including Aces High and The Cruel Sea. If you want to recreate some of the mystique of The Third Man, you could wear a trilby, pulled down low, and hang around in a sewer. Alternatively, you could sip on Markus Huber’s Nussdorfer Riesling, from Traisental, Austria, which we are giving away here along with SW4 Gin to mark the release of these iconic British films. With its citrus overtones and cool charm, Nussdorfer is quite the Harry Lime – but the only crime here is not loving it, baby.
‘Til next time.