New Kabaj vintage reviewed in Wine and Spirits Magazine

Kabaj reviews

Wine and Spirits Magazine has great reviews of the latest vintage of Kabaj in its October issue. These wines will be coming to the US shortly. In the meantime, low quantities of the 2013 vintage—also very well rated by the magazine—are still available (93 Points for both the 2013 Rebula and the 2013 Sivi Pinot!).

#WineWednesday Spotlight #106: Bott Csontos Furmint

Csontos Vineyard
Csontos Vineyard

The historic Csontos vineyard—literally “strong-boned”—is a south-facing vineyard at the foothills of the oak-covered Zemplén mountains, a great protection against the cold northern winds. The soil, primarily tilled by horses, is a mix of clay and volcanic rocks, which provides spicy and mineral flavors to the Furmint grapes that Judit and József Bodó replanted a little more than 10 years ago.

Judit Bodó, née Bott, ferments her Csontos Furmint slowly with native yeasts in used barrels. The result is a straw-colored wine that smells like honey, herbs and smoke. It’s mouth-filling and unctuous like an apricot compote, with just a touch of sweetness. You can find it on the menu of the recently opened San Francisco restaurant Parigo, paired with seared foie gras, warm salt and pepper cookies, and huckleberry jam. You can also find it on our webshop. Enjoy!

#WineWednesday Spotlight #105: Patricius Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos

Botrytis affected grapes
Botrytis affected grapes. Photo: Patricius Winery

When conditions are just right, nature can hold a usually nasty fungus in such check that something special happens. Instead of destroying a crop, the fungus creates grapes with incredibly concentrated flavor that can make some of the world’s sweetest, most precious wines. The fungus, Botrytis cinerea, is more affectionately known as “noble rot.”

writes Anne Krebiehl, MW in the current issue of Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

And the Patricius Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos 2006 is one of the best:

Patricius 2006 Aszú Six Puttonyos (Tokaj); 95 points. Tantalizing aromas of apricot, bananas foster, beeswax and pineapple upside-down cake transfer seamlessly onto the palate. It then opens up further, with pronounced flavors of lemon meringue and acacia honey. The texture is luxurious, silky and voluptuous. Editors’ Choice.

The wine is a sweet golden nectar, made from the best terroirs and only in exceptional vintages. Enjoy it with Foie Gras, Blue Cheese or an Apricot Tart.

The Rise of Blaufränkisch

Dorli Muhr
Dorli Muhr harvesting Blaufränkisch in Carnuntum

It seems that in the last few years, Blaufränkisch (German for blue Frankish) has become Austria’s most successful red wine variety. It’s not a new grape: based on its name, we think that it had been growing in Central Europe since the Middle Ages. The name Fränkisch comes from Franconia, a German region praised for its quality wines in the Middle Ages, and so at the time, grapes that were producing superior wines were called Fränkisch.

Better rootstock, denser plantings, better cover crops management and nuanced winemaking explain the recent rise in quality with more and more Blaufränkisch wines showing great complexity and finesse. Some producers describe Blaufränkisch using the “triangle” comparison: the grape has the elegance of Burgundy Pinot Noir, the pepperiness of Northern Rhône Syrah, and the structure of Piedmont Nebbiolo.

Its home is Burgenland where many of the finest examples are grown. Carnuntum, a region just southeast of Vienna, is also a source of quality Blaufränkisch where they are especially fresh and elegant.

Katrin and Birgit Pfneisl
Birgit and Katrin Pfneisl from the Pfneiszl Winery make Kékfrankos from Sopron, Hungary and Blaufränkisch from Burgenland, Austria.

Burgenland was part of Hungary until 1921, when most of it was annexed as Austria’s ninth and easternmost state after the dissolution of he Habsburg Empire. The exception was Burgenland’s capital Sopron, which was united with Hungary with its neighboring villages.

Eged-Hegy Vineyard
J&J Eger Winery makes a single vineyard Kékfrankos from the Eged-Hegy Vineyard in Eger, Hungary.

In Hungary, Blaufränkisch is called Kékfrankos, which also means blue Frankish. The best Hungarian Kékfrankos are found not only in Sopron but also in Szekszárd, Villány, and Eger wine districts. Additionally, it is the main component in the Bikavér (Bull’s Blood) blend.

Check out our Blaufränkisch and Kékfrankos, dry and sweet, from Muhr-van der Niepoort (Austria), Rosenhof (Austria), Pfneiszl (Austria & Hungary), Bock (Hungary), Heimann (Hungary), J&J Eger Winery (Hungary), and Martinčič (Slovenia).

Cracking Croatian Wine: A Visitor-Friendly Guide

Charine Tan on Pag
Charine Tan on the island of Pag, Istria

After four years of deliberating and planning together, in May 2015, Charine Tan and Dr Matthew Horkey sold almost all of their possessions, dropped the comfort and security of their lucrative careers, and left Singapore to travel around the world. With a dream of building a location-independent business and to absorb the world’s lessons, they have explored over 50 wine regions and published four books (three of them are wine related) along the way. Cracking Croatian Wine: A Visitor-Friendly Guide is the third in a series of ‘Exotic Wine Travel’ books that they plan to author. They also share wine travel tips, videos, wine-related stories, and exciting finds from lesser-known wine regions on exoticwinetravel.com, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

Matt Overlooking Dingac Dalmatia
Matthew Horkey Overlooking the Dingač vineyard in Southern Dalmatia

When asked about the name ‘Exotic Wine Travel’, the duo explained that the problem with lesser-known wine regions and exotic wines is that, often, visitors bounce around a country swiftly and end up tasting some sub-standard local wines. Their experiences tend to be incidental and far from ideal. For that reason, Charine and Matthew aim to explore the unheralded wine regions of the world and introduce the readers to the best that those places have to offer. To achieve that, they usually spend a long period in a wine region or country, integrating with the local wine community to find out the ‘good, bad, and ugly’, and finally, share the vinous gems and stories of a place with fellow wine lovers.

Cracking Croatian Wine: A Visitor-Friendly Guide

Charine in Kutjevo Slavonia and the Danube
Charine in Kutjevo, Slavonia

While Croatia is a young country, its wine history dates back to over 2,500 years ago. There are more than 130 indigenous wine grapes in Croatia; around 40 of them are currently used in commercial wine production. These autochthonous grapes are supplemented by numerous international ones. All in all, it is believed that over 200 varieties are cultivated in the country and vinified by about 1,600 registered wine producers.

Croatian White Wine Vineyard
Croatian White Wine Vineyard

Charine and Matthew say, “Croatia is making some of the most exciting wines in Europe. Let us help you find them!”

Cracking Croatian Wine: A Visitor-Friendly Guide is a practical and informative guidebook, designed for people who enjoy wine either casually or with great curiosity and vigor. The couple spent eight months traveling through the country, visiting hundreds of producers, and tasting nearly 2,000 wines in preparation for the book. Cracking Croatian Wine is their way of helping wine lovers save time, money, and effort: the book will provide pertinent information to help wine tourists maximize their time in Croatia and identify the types of wines they will enjoy.

Lumbarda Korcula Dalmatia
The village of Lumbarda on Korčula island, Dalmatia

The book covers:

An Introduction to Croatia: An overview of Croatian wine history, wine regions, general climatic and geographical features, Croatian cuisine, and styles of wine available to complete the gastronomic experience.

Wine Grapes in Croatia: A rundown of the native and international wine grapes planted in Croatia, along with a pronunciation guide to help you order wine like a local.

Wine Label Interpretation: Croatian wine labels can have a lot of information on them. In this book, we offer a guide to understanding every line on the label.

Wine Recommendations: More than 150 wine recommendations, complete with tasting notes. This section is categorized into:

1. For the discerning palate and the connoisseur

2. For the adventurous palate and the wine geek

3. For the casual wine drinker

Featured Wine Personalities: These people will offer insights into the existing wine culture and the prospect of Croatia as a wine destination.

Saša Says: Saša Špiranec, renowned Croatian wine writer, offers an insider’s look at Croatia’s wine regions.

To purchase the paperback book: https://www.amazon.com/Cracking-Croatian-Wine-Visitor-Friendly-Guide/dp/9811139733

To purchase the electronic book: http://exoticwinetravel.com/cracking-croatian-wine-guide

#WineWednesday Spotlight #104: Shavnabada Rkatsiteli

Georgian wine tasting
Photo: Sierra Dawn Downey

Sierra Dawn Downey tells stories through illustrating, writing, and photography and teaches about wine. She recently attended a tasting of Georgian wines at The Barrel Room in San Francisco and was particularly fascinated by the Shavnabada Rkatsiteli, a rich amber-colored wine made by monks from the Shavnabada Monastery that spent 9 years buried in the earth after 5 months of maceration:

Ever since listening to @winefornormalpeople’s episode on Georgian wines, I’ve been incredibly curious to try some for myself. Thanks to the intrepid wine gurus at @barrelroomsf, I was able to travel to Eastern Europe via its vino and dive into the world of amphorae wines! I can honestly say I’ve never quite experienced history on my tongue and in my nose as I did with this flight. When I tried the amber-colored Shavnabada Rkatsiteli, made by Georgian Orthodox monks in Kakheti who age it for years in qvevris, it brought to mind creaking old stone-and-wood buildings decorated with decades of dust. Tree resin, herbs, treated wood. It was fascinating.

She also tasted the Gotsa Tavkveri and the doqi Saperavi:

Then it was on to the Gotsa Rosé of Tarkveri, the color of a vivid sunset in my glass–with the slight (and very unexpected) scent of blood and iron–think rare red meat–with the red fruit notes dancing underneath. Rounding out the flight was a doqi Saperavi from Kakheti, an inky wine aged in (at least from this producer) stainless steel and French oak barriques rather than qvevris. Aromas of warm honey and toffee swirled in the glass, turning to honeyed plum, cherries, and nearly over-cooked caramel on the tongue with a pleasing finish. I found it a brooding wine that enticed another sip to (try to) further understand it.

Overall, it was a fascinating experience, and I was transported to my days spent exploring Fort Ross in elementary school, where the importance was placed on living history rather than simply learning it.

Follow Sierra Dawn Downey and her drawings and photography on Instagram.

#WineWednesday Spotlight #103: Brkić Greda

Brkic Greda
Biodynamic Bosnian producer Josip Brkić

Today is a contribution by Bosnian wine educator and consultant Aleksandar Draganić over at Grape Nomad.

The Brkić Greda is one of these wines that Will Make You Fall in Love with Žilavka Immediately:

A deep golden yellow in the glass, reminiscent of that tree sap you liked to poke your fingers into when you were a kid. I love the authenticity this wine has year in year out – maturing in Bosnian oak, with fine lees aging to get its creamy texture and scrumptious notes of dried apricot, vanilla biscuits, ripe pear and quince. Infinite aftertaste, medium body and without a glamorous drinking window, but still something to taste if you want to remember this grape.

For Josip Brkić, who organically farms the white Žilavka and red Blatina in Čitluk in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina, the vineyard is a special place. It’s a place of dedication, a place that demands respect, attention, love, knowledge and passionate work. And his wines reflect his vision and dedication. Check Josip Brkić’s amazing wines on our webshop.

#WineWednesday Spotlight #102: Miloš Stagnum

milos stagnum tasting
Photo: Oxford University Wine Circle

The Oxford University Wine Circle is the oldest student wine society in the world. Since 1962, it has organized frequent tastings and dinners for its members and their guests, bringing top quality producers to the university of Oxford.

One of the society’s recent tastings featured a 1961 Aloxe-Corton, a 1995 Corton-Charlemagne, a 2003 Opus One and a 2003 Miloš Stagnum:

So a couple of (opposite) ’03s.. ’03 Stagnum Milos.. against a ’03 Opus One… Well, we also had a 1961 Aloxe-Corton (rubbish) and a wonderful ’95 Corton-Charlemagne..
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Par for the course.. The Milos won! Goddamn, this Croatian wine is good! I really hope my subscribers get a chance to taste it! .
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#croatia #plavacmali #milos

The Stagnum is quite a special wine. Sourced from organic 30-year-old Plavac Mali vines planted on steep, dry-farmed terraced vineyards, it is fermented with wild yeasts, and aged in old Slavonian oak barrel for three years. The wine is rich and powerful with well structured tannins and it is definitively age-worthy.

Is it the First Cult Wine of Croatia? Check this video from Exotic Wine Travel:

We’re sold out of the 2003 but the 2007 vintage is still available, hurry up!

#WineWednesday Spotlight #101: BIBICh Lučica

bibich lucica
Photo: Marcy Gordon

Another contribution from our friend, BIBICh wine lover Marcy Gordon:

Lučica, Lučica! How do I love thee Lučica, let me count the ways… 1) Produced by the master Alen Bibić. 2) My beloved Debit grape indigenous to Croatia. 3) The first Bibich wine I fell in love with. (The rest all followed quickly) 4) Always surprises me. 5) Orange is not the only wine, but it could be for me. (subtle Jeanette Winterson reference –google it) 6) Every sip transports me to Skradin.

Thank you Alen Bibic for making Lučica!

#Lučia #Bibich #winesofcroatia #wine #croatia #Skradin #orange #orangewine #bluedanubewine #dalmatia #winesofdalmatia #BibichWinery #BIBICh

The BIBICh Lučica 2015 is a 100% Debit from old vines planted by Alen Bibić’s grandfather. It’s Alen’s special wine, macerated on the skins for two weeks, and fermented with natural yeast in French oak barrels for more than a year. It’s a serious age-worthy wine, evoking scents of Mediterranean dried herbs and the salty sea breeze and it’s also delicious right now. Ask Marcy!

#WineWednesday Spotlight #100: Martinčič Pinot Noir Rosé

Martincic Pinot Noir Rosé
Martinčič Pinot Noir Rosé showing its lovely salmon pink color

An hour’s drive from Ljubljana in Southeast Slovenia, the Dolenjska wine-growing district is one of Slovenia’s largest wine growing region. Thanks to a combination of alpine and continental climatic influences, its gentle, south-facing hills at the edge of the woods are ideal for growing grapevines.

The region is famous for its light, fruity, low-alcohol reds, especially the Cviček, a traditional, slightly sour red wine made by blending red and white grape varieties.

Made in the same light and fruity style, try this Pinot Noir Rosé from the family-owned Martinčič winery: showing a lovely pale salmon pink hue, the wine is dry and tangy with a refreshing round palate. With only 11% alcohol in a 1 Liter bottle, bring it to your next picnic with a cured salami and a fresh loaf of bread.