Great places to drink Blue Danube Wines in San Francisco

August 1 Five - Birba - Liholiho
Photos: Wine & Spirits Magazine

There’re so many fine places where you can find Blue Danube wines in San Francisco! In particular, note these three restaurants: they have great reviews in the October issue of Wine & Spirits Magazine and carefully curated wine lists that perfectly match the food in the menu.

At August 1 Five, try gol guppa, which are crispy pastries filled with spiced potatoes, with Štoka Teran Rosé:

Here, gol guppa crispy pastries filled with spiced potatoes—arrive with a flight of brightly fruit-flavored waters, poured in at table to maintain the crispness and burst of flavor with each bite: biryani is made elegant with long, long grains of rice and perfectly balanced seasonings. Austin Ferrari’s tightly curated wine list is in perfect sync with the food, focused on spicy, earthy wines like Stoka teran rosé and Inconnu Sonoma County cab franc. (Full review here)

At Birba, try marinated anchovies with Fekete Furmint:

You won’t find the usual suspects here, but rather things like sparkling pineau d’Aunis from the Loire, Béla Fekete’s volcanic whites from Somló in Hungary and six vermouths by the glass to go along with the charcuterie and olives and a soundtrack that veers from Beyoncé to salsa. (Full review here)

At Liholiho Yacht Club, try pickles in a poppy seed–encrusted bun with Eszterbauer Kadarka:

Chef Ravi Kapur, from Hawaii via Boulevard and Prospect, works magic in the open kitchen at Liholiho, turning out umami-rich dishes like tongue, kimchi and pickles in a poppy seed–encrusted bun, or beef carpaccio and crispy fried oysters. They sing with the eclectic wine list, rich in classic aromatic whites from Italy, Germany and Alsace, as well as esoterica like Ravines Riesling from the Finger Lakes, Sandlands Trousseau from Sonoma and Eszterbauer Kadarka from Hungary. (Full review here)

#WineWednesday Spotlight #109: Geyerhof Zweigelt StockWerk

geyerhof_zweigelt_stockwerk
Photo: Nicole Ruiz Hudson

After spending 3 years working for a wine magazine in New York City, wine and food writer Nicole Ruiz Hudson has recently returned to California. Located in the Bay Area, she now enjoys going on camping trips, from the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains to Humboldt County up in the northern part of the state.

On camping trips, she likes to eat well and pair her meals with something good in her glass. Not all wines are good camping wines though so in her blogpost 2 oz Pours: Campsite Dining, she shares with us some of her personal guidelines for perfect camping wines: they have to be easy-drinking, under $20, versatile, easy to open with a screwcap, and tasty while chilled. Sounds good to me!

With Andouille sausages grilled on the fire and cannellini beans sautéed with onions, garlic and Parmesan, she enjoyed drinking a Geyerhof Zweigelt StockWerk Kremstal 2015:

This is such a tasty wine. We have this at home quite a bit and we took this on both of our summer camping trips. (One of my co-workers mentioned this also one of her camping go-to’s.)

StockWerk literally means “work on the vines.” The grapes for this wine grow on cool sites south of the Danube river through all organic farming practices without the use of any pesticides, insecticides, or weed control substances.

This is a super easy drinker with lots of blackberry and black cherry notes along with light pepper and spice. Despite the dark fruit flavors it’s medium bodied. It also hits a couple of other camping wine touchstones–it’s under screw cap and takes a chill well.

Because of the wine’s fruitiness it can handle some spicier foods, so we paired it with Andouille sausages grilled right on the fire. (Pre-cooked sausages also keep really well in the cooler.) As s side, I sautéed some onions with garlic in our little camping pot and added a can of cannellini beans, Parmesan, and salt and pepper, and I left the beans on the saucy side. Super easy and very tasty.

Read the whole story and find out all the fresh and juicy camping wines she tasted as well as the delicious campsite meals she paired them with.

#WineWednesday Spotlight #108: Dubrovački Podrumi Malvasija Dubrovačka

Dubrovacki Podrumi Malvasija
Photos: Marcy Gordon

“It’s still summer here” for our friend Marcy Gordon. The temperatures are mild, the trees are still green, and sweet cherry tomatoes, and vibrant bell peppers are in season. So let’s enjoy this late Californian summer with a glass of crisp Dubrovački Podrumi Malvasija:

I may be saying “It’s still summer here” well into February the way things are going–but tonight we have a bit of sunny Croatia in our glass with this crisp, bright, and fresh 2015 Malvasija Dubrovačka from Dubrovački Prodrumi. It’s lemony, and slightly chalky. Immensely quaffable! Pairing great with the last of the tomatoes and some peppers. I visited Dubrovački Prodrumi just south of Dubrovnik last year on the Epic Blue Danube Road Trip. Fun Times! #croatia
#malvasija #dalmatia #dubrovačkiprodrumi #dalmatianwine #winesofcroatia #bluedanubewine #wine #itsstillsummerhere

Marcy in Croatia
Marcy enjoying wine in Croatia

Yes we agree, Croatia will always bring fond (and epic) memories to all of us!

Follow Marcy on Instagram.

#WineWednesday Spotlight #107: Gallay Bistronauta White

Gallay wines
Roland Borbély and his wines — Photo: Colm Fitzgerald

Through his blog The Paprika Project, Irish-born Colm FitzGerald, who now lives in Hungary, likes to share Hungary’s rich culture and natural beauty with the world.

He recently met winemaker Roland Borbély at the Gallay Winery:

Roland Borbély, the man with the plan! Beautiful morning in sunny Nyékládháza, Hungary with the whole Borbély family. Tucked away in a rural valley near Miskolc, Gallay is producing exceptional wines in an uncompromising style. Roland is championing Pinot Blanc, Zenit, Kékfrankos and Zweigelt grown on the clay and ancient limestone of the Bükk foothills. The results speak for themselves: elegant, balanced and age worthy wines that are unique yet very, very likable. @hunvino @bluedanubewine #gallay #hungary #bükk #wine #miskolc #bluedanubewine #winelover

bistronauta

The Bistronauta White is a funny, flying astronaut on a bistro corkscrew. It’s a fruity blend of 60% Pinot blanc and 40% Zenit — a Hungarian crossing of the native Ezerjó and the Slovenian grape Bouvier. Aged in stainless steel and neutral oak barrels, the wine is fresh, very aromatic, and easy going. A great “bistro wine” and very likable indeed!

Follow Colm Fitzgerald and the Paprika Project on Instagram .

Harvest report in Tokaj, Hungary: Interview with Samuel Tinon

Tinon in van
Samuel Tinon in his van with the harvested grapes

This year, we decided to interview a few of our winemakers to get their impressions of the 2017 harvest and the overall 2017 vintage.

We first reached out to Samuel Tinon on September 17th, just as some rain began to fall. Fortunately, the sparkling base wines and Sárgamuskotály (Yellow Muscat) had already been picked and most of his Furmint was still in early ripening.

Tinon Hatari harvest
Harvest in the Határi vineyard

According to Samuel, “In Tokaj we can have up to 10 book chapters in a 2-month period. In these conditions, it is far too early to talk about vintage. Anything can happen. In a written book, from the first chapter you can get a idea of the book, with Nature not.”

Hatari clusters
clusters of grapes from the Határi vineyard

By September 21st, the weather had changed. Completely botrytis-free harvest had moved into botytris, or what Samuel would call “Tokaj premier grand cru only.” Sugar levels still good, acid starting to drop, but Aszú berries beginning to take shape. By September 25th, roughly 40 L/m2 of rain had fallen so it was time to harvest all the remaining botrytis-free grapes.

Tinon rainfall
Measuring the rainfall

All in all, and like all quality wine regions the world over, it’s impossible to have a recipe or a crystal ball. Best to end with Samuel’s words:

“Even after having done 27 vintages here, for me every vintage took a different road. We know since flower time that we deal with an early ripening vintage, with good maturity and some fair amount of sugar in the grapes. Probably because I pay more attention now to botrytis-free production, I can see some huge difference between vineyards, bringing the vintage chart pretty hard to draw…So, let’s just do some decent wine, dry or sweet, with or without botrytis, but all very Tokaj!”

Tinon family
The Tinon family

Harvest report in Carnuntum, Austria: Interview with Dorli Muhr

Harvest at Muhr van der Niepoort
Harvest at Muhr van der Niepoort

This year, we decided to interview a few of our winemakers to get their impressions of the 2017 harvest and the overall 2017 vintage.

Here is Dorli Muhr, owner of the Muhr-van der Niepoort winery located in the Austrian appellation of Carnuntum east of Vienna, and known of her elegant Blaufränkisch wines:

How would you describe the 2017 vintage?
2017 is a very diverse vintage. We see fantastic quality in some vineyards, and less interesting grapes in others. You will find outstanding wines from the 2017 vintage, and you will find quite poor wines. For the consumer and for the trade, tasting and comparing will be very important.

How is this vintage different from last year’s?
This year, we had a very hot and extremely dry summer, while in 2016 we had enough rain.
The grapes were very balanced in 2016, very tasty, very relaxed in a way. In 2017, many grapes could not mature perfectly, because they did not get enough water. But for some vineyards, the hot summer and the rainfall we got finally in September, was just ideal. Those vineyards will make incredibly good wines.

Blaufränkisch
These ripe Blaufränkisch grapes will make incredibly good wines

What’s the biggest challenge this year?
We need to pick very carefully, and separate the lower qualities from the great ones. Even in one vineyard you have two or even three different kinds of maturity, depending on the soil conditions. It is definitely a year where experienced and conscientious pickers are needed.

Harvest at Muhr van der Niepoort

We are happy to have, for nearly 15 years now, the same team of Hungarian pickers. They know our vineyards and they know the quality demands we have. I am very proud of Jutka and her colleagues.

What’s going to be the most interesting wines this year?
In the best vineyard sites we have high maturity AND a thrilling acidity. This will give incredibly compact and long lasting wines.

Watch Dorli foot stomping grapes and singing Hungarian songs with her Hungarian team:

Who said harvesting was no fun?

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).