Adopt-a-vine

After a long chain of embarrassing late arrivals to appointments with producers and an exasperating hike up a steep snowy hillside vineyard during our visit to Tokaj this past February, my team of adventuresome Danubians – Michael Newsome (Sales LA), Henry Beylin (Gjelina – Venice Beach, CA), Matt Stinton (Terroir/Hearth – NYC, NY) and 2 of Tokaj’s most iconic producers shared a special moment together in the vineyard of Hatari. Had we been on time for our appointments, it would not have been so special. Just before, we were among Judit Bodo‘s vines in Csontos. The full moon began to rise and we left for wild pheasant soup at her house, or so I thought. But then she pulled off the bumpy road for one even rougher and icier, and rumbled us towards a man standing by a van in a giant furry Russian snow hat—which I discovered is called “ushanka”. Although it was already dark, the hat made the outline unmistakably Samuel Tinon. We were supposed to visit his vineyard earlier, but since things had gotten so late and Judit and he had been in contact, I assumed she had canceled the meeting for us. Not the case. Samuel … Continue reading Adopt-a-vine

2006 Monastery Tvrdos Vranac: Twice as Nice

Until I began working for Blue Danube, I, like the majority of Americans, had never tasted a wine from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Clearly, I was missing out; the region is steeped in ancient winemaking tradition. By comparison, these Balkan countries make France seem very New-World. The reason grapes have been cultivated here for thousands of years is simple: their terroir, the confluence of the sunny maritime climate and mountains produces robust grapes. This entry focuses on the 2006 Vranac from Monastery Tvrdos of the Trebinje region of Herzegovina. The Tvrdos Monastery sits on the banks of the picturesque Trebišnjica river, 15 miles as the crow flies or, due to circuitous roads, a two hours drive from the Adriatic coast. It is here that the river erodes topsoil, creating the fields of karst endemic to this region. Although hot summers and mild winters characterize the region, winds blow simultaneously from both the nearby Dinaric mountains and the Adriatic. The indigenous grapes, the white varietal, ŽZilavka, and Vranac have been grown in the region for centuries. Vranac is a supposed relative of the Croatian Plavac Mali, the ancestor of the Californian Zinfandel. The monastery is perched on the foundation of a 4th-century … Continue reading 2006 Monastery Tvrdos Vranac: Twice as Nice

Wine: a cultural preservative?

The last few weeks have been particularly active for us, even nuts. We are in the middle of a visit from Ivica Dobrinčić of Šipun and Alen Bibić of Bibich Winery in NYC for Vina Croatia. In the air right now are Judit and Jozsef Bodó of Bott Pince in Tokaj who will visit us in NY first then SF and LA. Finally I take a moment to read the pamphlets Ivica brought to promote his wines at the various tastings. Nice pictures, good information, nicely written, and then the last few sentences made me stop to share. He is writing in reference to the wines of his native Krk, “The traditional, but sometimes neglected viticulture and wine production have recently evolved in a modern technologically sophisticated and promising industry, Such a development has improved the existence of many domestic families. It has also prevented people from leaving their birthplace, and at the same time generated superior results.” We understand wine as a beverage and a commodity, but cultural preservative, or even cultural booster? When I consider the history and tradition behind these families, hear them share their visionary ideas and then taste their already singular and delicious wines, I … Continue reading Wine: a cultural preservative?