Croatian Wine Tasting at Bistro SF Grill

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you must go visit Bistro SF Grill! It is a cozy, intimate spot in San Francisco’s Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood. Co-owners Gino, Hasim, and Seni make you feel right at home with their slightly Balkan influenced menu and wine list; all three are originally from Bosnia-Herzegovina. We had the pleasure of spending an evening with them this week to celebrate our latest arrival of Croatian wine. The guys put together a flight of 5 wines for guests to choose which included: Bibich Debit, Šipun Žlahtina, Bibich G6 Grenache, Miloš Plavac Mali, and Dubrovački Crljenak Kaštelanski (aka Croatian Zinfandel). It was a fun night of exploration, good conversation, and wine! The experience is not complete without one of their fabulous burgers. I highly recommend the Balkan Burger, which is a lamb patty between pita bread with mint yogurt sauce.

Exploring the Dalmatian Coast and Suha Punta Wines with Marion & Zdravko Podolski

Our friends Marion and Zdravko divide there time between California and Croatia, sharing their experiences through the blog “Go Hvar – Ramblings About a Far Island“. Recently they visited the Dalmatian coast, stopping to tour and taste at Suha Punta winery. Marion and Zdravko have graciously allowed us to share their piece with you. Živjeli (cheers)! Exploring the Dalmatian coast – Primošten, Suha Punta wines and the vineyards of Bucavac Our normal mode of driving north from Hvar is to take the inland motorway. It’s fast and easy, and we’re usually on our way to Zagreb with no time for scenic diversions. But this May we treated ourselves to a more relaxed trip up the magistrala, that wonderfully scenic Croatian coastal road. Setting out from Hvar on a rainy Saturday morning, the clouds gradually cleared as we drove past Trogir, with the road pretty much to ourselves. Coming up towards Primošten, we spotted a large boatyard backed by a spectacular pattern of drystone walls. This was Bucavac, known for good reason as “stone lace“, and looking just like an Oton Gliha painting. (Note: Bucavac is pronounced “Boots-a-vats” as in Croatian “c” is actually “ts”.) These are not terraced vineyards, as … Continue reading Exploring the Dalmatian Coast and Suha Punta Wines with Marion & Zdravko Podolski

Crljenak Kaštelanski — Discovering Zinfandel’s Croatian Roots

The Mrčevlje vineyard above the village of Cavtat where the Dubrovački Crljenak Kaštelanski grows. It is a very exciting time to be a student of wine. DNA fingerprinting has led to many new discoveries about grape varietals, in particular identifying genetic relationships. One such discovery was made in 2001 by University of Davis professor, Carole Meredith. After hearing suggestions that Zinfandel may be related to a Croatian grape, Meredith went to Croatia to collect samples. What she found is that Zinfandel is actually an indigenous Croatian varietal referred to locally as Crljenak Kaštelanski. Other than California, the grape is cultivated extensively in Italy, going by the name Primitivo. Read the full story of how the Original Zinfandel was found in Croatia: here. It has been a long time since we have had a Crljenak Kaštelanski (CK for short) also known as Tribidrag in our portfolio. Many of you sent requests and inquiries so we are pleased to introduce the 2012 Dubrovački Podrumi Crljenak (Zinfandel). Dubrovački Podrumi was founded in 1877 by Kolić Pero, a wine merchant. After World War II, the winery became a state-run operation. In 2000, the winery was bought by local entrepreneurs who revitalized the winemaking program … Continue reading Crljenak Kaštelanski — Discovering Zinfandel’s Croatian Roots

Bibich Lučica 2011, one of W&S Best Eastern European Wines

The new 2011 vintage of the BIBICh Lucica has just received a very nice review published in the current edition of Wine & Spirits Magazine. Check what they say about the wine: Alen Bibic pulls this wine from debit vines his grandfather planted some 50 years ago in Plastovo, a small village hemmed in between Croatia’s vast Krka national park and the Adriatic coast. The dry-farmed bush vines produce very little fruit, which Bibic macerates on the skins for two weeks, and ferments without added yeast in French oak barrels. The result is a wine as rich as its burnished golden hue, with a yeasty, salty aspect that brings fino sherry to mind. As it opens in the glass, it gets fresher, with a crisp tang of an antique apple variety and a corresponding apple-skin grip. The firm structure and freshness suggest that this will age well, although it’s delicious now with a pork chop. We hope you’ll try the wine very soon. This summer, this will be the perfect companion for Spanish tapas.

Demeter Zoltán, Tokaj, Hungary

Having recently been fortunate enough to spend two weeks in Austria and Hungary, I can happily say my notebook is full of things to further clog your inbox for months to come. However, in the interest of keeping things focused and digging a little deeper, I’d like to start with a particularly intense (in a good way) encounter with Demeter Zoltán in Hungary’s Tokaj appellation. Terroir lesson from Demeter Zoltán Demeter is a one man army by choice and demands 100% control over everything. By everything, work in the vineyards, winery and cellar are all assumed. His control extends to how the word “Tokaj” is placed on his labels, custom drawers in his tasting room filled with terroir specific soils and rocks, selecting specific music for the winery/cellar/tasting room, and creating custom maps for his single vineyards. Even the photography associated with his brand on Facebook is his own and branded with his logo. If I were to move a book on shelf without him seeing, I have little doubt he would notice the moment he turned back around. Tasting with Demeter Zoltán The fascinating thing is that despite all of this control, he’s happy to admit the elusive magic … Continue reading Demeter Zoltán, Tokaj, Hungary

A Grand Atypical Rosé

One of the most unexpected wines of the season, has to be the Rosé  from Miloš winery in Croatia. Struggling to understand how this atmospheric mineral delight came to be, I called up Ivan Miloš who makes the wine with his father Frano for a little Q and A. And then I hope that like me, you’ll taste and enjoy this “truly serious, grand, atypical wine”. Miloš vineyards: Old vine Plavac amongs walled terraces of Dolomitic limestone. Photo Credit: Frano Miloš Why does Miloš make a Rosé? The Miloš family farm has a very unique location on the Pelješac peninsula at the southern part of Croatia. We are 100% focused on that one spot planted with one grape, Plavac Mali. Combined with the dolomitic limestone of our terraced vineyards, it gives us grapes of such a unique quality, we simply wanted to show the richness of its pure juice, Rosé is the best way to do this. Where did the idea to make a Rosé from the best grapes of the harvest come from? We were tasting rose wines from other appelpations and countries, and we found very few which met our taste. Unfortunately, most rosé are light with almost no structure. We hate … Continue reading A Grand Atypical Rosé

Join Blue Danube at the Hungarian Heritage Festival

Celebrate Hungarian culture at the Hungarian Heritage Festival this Saturday May 9th, in Belmont, CA. There will be music, dance, food and wine from 12pm to 9pm. Also don’t miss Prof. Eric Danch’s presentation on “The Hungarian Wine” from 1:30pm to 2:00pm. Our wines will be available to pair with Pörkölt, Töltött Káposzta, and Lángos. Here is the program. Looking forward to seeing you this Saturday!