The SOMM Journal

December 2014/January 2015

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42 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } DECEMBER/JANUARY 2014/2015 { importers } ORIGINALLY FROM LAS VEGAS, ATHENA Bochanis speaks Hungarian, has a Greek father and a mother who was raised Mormon. After receiving a Fulbright scholarship to study abroad in Berlin, and later in Budapest, she fell in love with the wine and spirits scene in Hungary. "I've always thirsted for old places and traditions," she says, something she didn't get in Vegas. Realizing her potential to help as someone living in New York City who really believes in Hungarian wine, she set out to learn everything she could about the imports industry. By early 2014, Bochanis founded Palinkerie, which by year's end is servicing roughly 35 accounts in New York, with plans to expand to other mar - kets. "Our portfolio represents natural, small-batch wines from native varieties," says Bochanis. "We started with four producers and seven wines, but soon we'll have ten producers and 16 wines." According to Bochanis, in the last five years there's been a push from within Hungary to bring Hungarian wine to the global market, thanks largely to investments from Hungarians living abroad. "I'm also competing with the domestic market," she explains, "and savvy winemakers who have worked in France and Napa." Buyers can expect to see small-production offerings like the Árvay 2012 "Domain" Furmint, Tokaji, a mineral-driven pale, yellow wine with aro - mas of honey, vanilla, ripe pear, celery, sage and flin t, or the Laposa 2012 Nagy-Somlói Juhfark, a fiery, aromatic, long and deep white varietal, with notes of citrus, wheat, almonds and living bark. "It's a fun place of discovery," Bochanis says. Visit for more information. Another young but rapidly expanding importer that is growing in popularity among sommeliers is Indie Wineries. According to Christian Troy, a found - ing partner and California Portfolio Manager, Indie is a "European-based and -inspired portfolio of small producers primarily from Italy, France and Slovenia, dedicated to making sustainable, honest and authen- tic wines in a manner based on their traditions." F ounding partner Summer Wolff is the Euro counterpart, living in Monferrato, in Italy's Piedmont region, and married to Fabrizio Iuli of the eponymously named winery, one of Indie's imports. Wolff and Troy met at Teller's Restaurant, a steakhouse in Long Island where Wolff was the Wine Director. Troy was working for importer Polaner Selections and was in awe of Wolff's abil - ity to sell through single-vineyard Grüner Veltliner to the "old-school clientele. That was amazing," he reminisces, and together they began having fun, trying all kinds of geeky wines—and selling through them. "Then one day, I showed up and Wolff had moved to Tuscany!" Living in Monferrato, Wolff came to realize that the wine industry there was no different from that in Sonoma or Napa—all the winemakers knew each other and their lamenting about the difficulty entering the U.S. market sparked the idea of start - ing Indie Wineries, which launched in 2010 with 13 producers. By year's end, the company had doubled its portfolio. Today, Indie imports and self-distributes to over 650 accounts in New York, New Jersey, Washington and California and has distribution partners in ten other states. Buyers should look for iuli—primarily a Barbera producer along with some Pinot Nero and Nebbiolo; Arndorfer from Austria—a young couple, Martin and Anna, based in Kamptal (Anna is the daughter of well-known winemaker Karl Steininger); and Le Due Terre in Friuli, whose primary wine is Sacrisassi Rosso, a blend of Refosco and Schioppettino. Visit for more information. New Kids on the Block PALINKERIE FINE HUNGARIAN IMPORTS AND INDIE WINERIES SEEK OUT UNDER-THE-RADAR FINDS by Jonathan Cristaldi Athena Bochanis is the founder of Palinkerie Fine Hungarian Imports. PHOTO: COSIMO MAFFIONE PHOTO: ALEX STANILOFF Christian Troy, co-founder and California Portfolio Manager, Indie Wineries.

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