2014 Slovenska Istra Ludvik Nazarij Glavina Refosk: A terrific bargain and great introduction to refošk, this bright and juicy wine shows lovely aromas of violets and spices, with brambly black raspberry flavors and a light meaty note. Serve with pork shoulder. 89 points -Stephanie Johnson
Our notes: LNG are the initials for Ludvik Nazarij Glavina who reestablished the Santomas estate in 1997. It is primarily composed of fruit harvest from younger vines. Despite its tremendous value and liter volume it is made entirely from grapes they grow that undergo the same rigorous selection.The easiest drinking of the Refošk Santomas produces, it remains distinctly Refošk. At once nimble and deep. Forest fruit is accented by a spicy Mediterranean twang. It’s a light but highly expressive, surprisingly complex wine. Bottles like this are customarily consumed with local ham (Pršut) that benefits from the dry “Bora” wind which imparts the same savory notes found in the wine, but is quite versatile elsewhere; even with some seafood. The fact that it comes bottled by liter only adds to the value factor and makes it perfect for a party.
Bottlenotes latest Regional Spotlight is on Slovenia, a small country with a rich winemaking culture.
Slovenia’s climate is ideal for grape growing–its neighbors are some of the best winemaking regions in the world: Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Italy. The climate changes dramatically as you travel from north to south. The vineyards on Slovenia’s northern border with Austria survive cold chills from the Alps, while the southern regions bathe in Mediterranean sun and sea breezes. The best wines from Slovenia are white, and each of the three major wine regions has its specialties.
Read more about the major regions and grape varieties here.
Traveling to Croatia and looking to experience BIBICh wines outside the winery? BIBICh now has four shops to serve you! All of the shops carry the wines, spirits, and local delicacies produced by the winery.
Home to the famous Tokaji-Aszú dessert wine (characterised by French King Louis XIV as ‘the wine of kings, the king of wines’), it is also noteworthy for its labyrinthine cellars where these historic sweet wines are stored.
Tim Atkin MW spent some time in Georgia recently, exploring the rich wine culture and variety of indigenous grapes.
Wine is part of Georgia’s DNA, too. This is the so-called cradle of wine – grape pips have been found here that date back more than 8,000 years – but it’s so much more than a living museum. Wine is the national drink, consumed with gusto in a series of toasts and salutations at official meals, but also in countless bars and restaurants. Tbilisi is a wine city that’s every bit as vibrant as Bordeaux, Mendoza, Logroño or Florence.
We are excited to be hosting a few tasting events with Sarah Grunwald, founder of Taste Georgia, over the next few weeks in California. Sarah is a sommelier and Georgia enthusiast. Hopefully you can join us at one of the events listed at the end of the post!
Allow Sarah to introduce herself and her company:
“I am absolutely thrilled to be partnering with Blue Danube this summer to co-host three Georgian wine tastings in California with the support of the Georgian National Wine Agency. Blue Danube is a leader in the emerging Eastern European wine markets which includes the Republic of Georgia, the oldest known wine region in the world. We’ll taste a variety of wines, which both represents the ancient techniques and also showcases the way Georgians are embracing modernity.
I contacted Blue Danube a few months ago about this then potential collaboration in California that will be held while I am visiting. Though I live in Rome, Italy, I am from California, a state that nursed my passion for wine until I moved to the old world. I studied for and passed the sommelier exam and eventually started teaching a University level class at the Instituto Lorenzo de Medici in Rome. I have also studied with WSET and I own a food and wine travel company called Antiqua Tours which offers food, wine and cultural excursions in and around Rome, focusing on the Lazio region.
In 2014, I was invited to speak at a wine tourism conference in Tbilisi, Georgia. Georgia was familiar to me for one thing, the qvevri. I am a great advocate for natural wines and in Italy- this means Josko Gravner, a vigneron in Friuli who uses qvevri that he imported from Georgia. I accepted the invitation to Georgia as any wine lover would. Being in Georgia and witnessing a qvevri opening, and drinking the clear wine from the depths of the earth gave me an epiphany. I was hooked, line and sinker.
Since that first trip, I have returned to Georgia six times. Learning about its wine, meeting wine makers and becoming ever more familiar with Georgian culture. What I have learned and hope to convey is the timelessness of wine in Georgian culture. I am sure our tastings will be exciting and new for most of our guests. The first time I had a wine from a qvevri, I was at a loss for words. The aromas, the taste and the feel of the wine made me feel as if I had to make up an entirely new vocabulary for these wines. They can be exhilarating, as if you just discovered a secret world.
My passion for Georgian wine, food and culture has become a business. In June 2014, I launched a food and wine travel company called Taste Georgia. Our mission is to provide authentic cultural experiences in the Republic of Georgia through the context of food and wine. Our goals are for guests to become fully immersed in famous Georgian Hospitality, while food lovers discover a new region and find inspiration in the diversity of Georgian culinary traditions, and wine lovers step back in time and discover the birthplace of wine.
My personal goal is to bring part of my heart, Georgia, back to my homeland in California. I hope to provide cultural context for the wines that we will taste. These wines were selected from the Blue Danube portfolio because they represent the current trends in Georgia right now. We’ll taste wines made traditionally, in qvevri, with no intervention, wines made that combine the traditional with the modern, and wine from a producer who completely embraces the European style of wine making using Georgian grapes.
If you are interested in the next great wine region, come join us, taste with us and share our table.”
The former Republic of Dubrovnik was one of the most developed parts of Europe. Dubrovnik city served as the capital and the countryside was important for agriculture, famous for the production of high class olive oil and wines. The Pelješac peninsula has always played a key role since ancient times due to it’s salt beds and proximity to the neighboring, magnificent islands. The longest city walls in Europe were built around the Pelješac to protect against invasions.
The Winery Miloš Winery is located just 6 miles away from Ston, where the Pelješac peninsula begins. So a visit is easy even if you are just passing by from Split to Dubrovnik, and don’t have a time to go all the way to the end of Pelješac peninsula. In their underground winery you can observe classic wine production, utilizing old large capacity oak barrels. Finally, there is a well appointed tasting room where you can taste their fine wines. For more adventurous wine lovers, be sure to reserve an off road tour through the vineyards to learn more about organic viticulture and manually farming on steep terraced slopes.
Things to do and see
Nearby Mali Ston bay is well known for oyster beds, one of the best delicacies to experience while in the region. Don’t miss the other fantastic seafood caught locally; in Mali Ston you can find several well known restaurants serving the catch of the day. City walls connect Mali Ston and Ston and it is definitely worth a tour, even though some parts are quite steep. Korčula island with it’s old city is also must see, along with National Park Mljet. Dubrovnik is also just 35 miles from Miloš winery. This region provides such diversity in a relatively small area.
Nearby accommodations are not hard to find. In Mali Ston, check out Hotel Ostrea, a beautifully renovated historical building near the sea.
Dubrovnik boasts quite a few five star hotels, including the luxurious Radisson Blu. If you want to be closer to the heart of the city, try the Hotel Excelsior.
Long before stainless steel and oak barrels, Georgians used giant clay pots, called qvevri, to ferment and age wine. The practice is now seeing a revival throughout Georgia with excellent results. It takes about three months for an artisan like Remi Kbilashvili to craft a new qvevri.
Kbilashvili’s craft is a living totem to Georgia’s 8,000-year-old wine-making heritage; in 2013, UNESCO, the United Nation’s education organization, recognized the qvevri as an element of “intangible cultural heritage of humanity.”
Todd Smith, wine director for DOSA South Indian restaurants in San Francisco, shares some of his wine pairing discoveries in this interview conducted by Lauren Sloss for Culintro.
LS: What’s been the most surprising (and delicious!) pairing that you’ve found?
TS: Maybe the first time I properly chilled a Plavac Mali from the Pelješac in Croatia and was super surprised and how it really coaxed out the tropical notes in a Kerala Fish Moilee — a coconut-based curry from the Southwest Coast of India.
There are some regions that produce amazing wines, but their economies are struggling and/or their operating costs are so low that they offer top-flight wines for a fraction of the cost of certain unnamed wine producing regions. This is why I love countries with a wine industry such as Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Hungary, Georgia (mostly!)…