Austrians Everywhere

Everybody knows that we (Californians) have a governor with an Austrian background (and an Austrian accent !). And everybody knows Aaanold from one movie or the other or has seen him on TV. Probably only few fans have heard that Mr. Schwarzenegger’s fav wine maker is Gerhard Wohlmuth, both of course hailing from the same Austrian wine region, Styria. Arnold’s longing for home cooking in the US was so strong that he opened his own restaurant in Santa Monica, Schatzi on Main that dishes out traditional Austrian cuisine. If you’re talking about Austrian restaurants in the US you have to mention the expanding food empire of Wolfgang Puck. Many people have eaten in one of his restaurants, or have baked one of the gourmet pizzas sporting his name, or have watched one of his entertaining cooking shows on TV. Of course, Wolfgang is an Austrian hero too, born in the southern province of Carinthia. Thoroughly trained in France, Wolfgang continued in LA to pioneer Californian fusion cuisine with his distinct Austrian background as a major ingredient. Then there are various wine makers who have this particular ethnic heritage in common, among them one of the founders of the Canadian Inniskillin … Continue reading Austrians Everywhere

VinExpo Americas in Review

This year’s VinExpo Americas was the second exhibition of its kind in the US produced by the same folks who bring us the big and fancy Vin Expo in Bordeaux, the mother of all wine trade shows. It was held at the beginning of June in Chicago in a move away from New York where the first one was staged. Approximately 6000 professionals visited the show. A recap by the organizers is available online at the link build into the headline above. Blue Danube Wine Company exhibited in the booth expertly put together and managed by the Austrian Wine Marketing Board. More than a dozen Austrian wineries were directly represented, joined by approximately a dozen US importers of Austrian wines. In all, more than 100 different wines were poured, providing visitors a fairly comprehensive insight into the different style of wines produced in the various wine regions in Austria. Judging from the feedback we received it is fair to say that visitors were surprised to discover that Austria has much more to offer than the ubiquitous GruVe which has started to make inroads in American wine shops and wine lists. They were also impressed by the overall high quality of … Continue reading VinExpo Americas in Review

Tokaji Terroir

Just a short while ago we visited Tokaj, the historic Hungarian wine region, for the very first time. Here we witnessed a window into the very dynamic renaissance of wine making, fueled by highly motivated and very competent wine makers, the financial interests of (often foreign) investors, and the existence of a rather unique terroir and a proprietary style of wine making. As my time allows I will report on this trip in short installments, today, let me introduce my co-travelers: my wife Zsuzsa Molnar, and our dear new friend, capable trip organizer, and wine collector extraordinaire, Charles Cruden. Zsuzsa is holding a new publication on Tokaj’s Terroir in her hand, while Charles is making arrangements for the next appointment on his indispensable cell phone. Of course the man in the center of it all is Istvan Szepsy, the wine maker of Kiralyudvar who has been providing so much guidance and leadership for the emergence of the contemporary Tokaj. Our Thank You goes to him and all of his colleagues who are extremely hospitable, cheerful, and passionate in their mission to show the world: THIS IS TOKAJ.

Just Out: Austrian Wine Guide 2004/2005

In time for the recent VieVinum wine show in Vienna, the Austrian wine magazine Falstaff has published the English language wine guide for 2004/2005. The German language original has long been indispensable for anybody interested in Austrian wines and her wine makers. Here is the slimmed down English edition, published for the second time around. Great resource that includes maps and information about the key wine regions in this small–but Oh so beautiful–wine country. The Ultimate Austrian Wine Guide 2004/2005,290 pages, colour in Europe: € 19,90, worldwide: € 22,90 Falstaff Publishing Ltd.Inkustrasse 1-7, A-3400 Klosterneuburg Tel.: 0043-2243-34798, Fax: 0043-2243-25840

Kiss that Frog: Hungary

Hungarian wines seem to crack their decade long ‘Sleeping Beauty’ spider web. These days even the English speaking world is starting to take note. At least the PR engines are starting to spit out English material about the topic. In any event, the Hungarian wine scene is certainly pretty dynamic today with more and more interesting wines being produced by a growing number of capable and very committed wine makers. You can catch up on the fast moving events try by reading either one of the following magazines: The UK’s Decanter Magazine contained a special booklet in their printed April 2004 issue, a US start-up named Wine Country International featured Hungary in its first edition, and a newly formed Hungarian group has posted a long introduction to contemporary Hungarian wine making as a 6MB Acrobat pdf file. It’s entitled Hungary Uncorked and is probably the most informative of the bunch. Well worth the download. Be aware that this will be more than 120 printed pages so keep an eye on your printer and keep some extra paper handy!!

10 Year Anniversary Tasting – The Age of Riesling

We have been waiting for the annual invitation to the big summer tasting hosted by Bay Area Riesling fan & wine merchant, Bill Mayer. Finally, his newsletter arrived with only a few weeks to go to the big event. Looks to us as if Bill still is the same sponti, except of the Berkeley variety, we were in Berlin some years ago. This time we’ve been surprised that it is already his 10th tasting in a row. More than 50 fine wines (mainly from Terry Theise’s portfolio of German and Austrian wines) will be served for a fee of only $30. We have experienced a couple of earlier tastings and can attest: they are always fun, there are usually plenty of fine wines to sample, and a good time is had by all. Well worth the money! Saturday, July 31st, 2004 12 noon to 5pm Oakland, California call Bill Mayer at: (510) 549-2444 or write him at And keep Bill’s advice in mind: Don’t forget to spit!

Introducing Refreshing New Varietals from Hungary

Blue Danube Wine Company is proud to introduce the Craftsman series of wines from Hilltop Neszmély Winery of Hungary to California and the West Coast. This exciting new line brings the refreshingly flavors of some of Hungary’s finest grape varietals to American palates. The six whites, two reds and one sweet wine have been carefully selected to capture the flavor and character of Hungarian wines. The varietals include Királyleányka, Irsai Olivér, Olaszrizling, Muscat Ottonel, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Grigio (Szürkebarát), Kékfrankos (Blaufränkisch) and Tokaji Aszú. Hilltop Neszmély Winery is at the forefront of the renaissance of Hungarian wine making and internationally renowned wine critic Jancis Robinson terms the winery “one of the country’s leading wine exporters”. Focusing on importing top wines from Central Europe, in particular from Austria, Croatia, and Hungary, Blue Danube Wine is pleased to expand its portfolio of sophisticated flavorful food friendly wines. Our winemakers combine old winemaking traditions and indigenous grape varietals typical of their regions to produce distinctive wines. more

94 points to Hilltop-Neszmely Tokaj Aszú

What a big surprise when we read the recent Wine Spectator in which Bruce Sanderson conducted a major tasting of Tokaji wines imported to the U.S. Here is what he said about the Hilltop-Neszmely 5 Puttonyos Tokaj Aszú 1993: Lush and smoky in aroma, with flavors of orange marmalade, apricot and smoke, this is elegant, with a vibrant structure coaxing the flavors to a lengthy conclusion. Really hitting its stride now. Drink now through 2010. 125 cases imported. Wine Spectator, June 15th, 2004 Well, we had just received our alotment of a few cases as part of taking on distribution of the dry Hilltop wines in California. BTW we do sell the Hilltop Tokaj for only $39.95, not bad considering its excellent quality. This is your chance to give it a try if you have never tasted a Tokaj Aszú.