#WineWednesday Spotlight #6: Miloš Plavac Mali

Now that the holiday season is drawing to a close, we can take a moment to pause and catch our breaths. Our wallets are a little slimmer, and our waistlines a little larger after all the delicious holiday cooking and lack of exercise to which we’ve treated ourselves. Of course, as we assess our goals for 2016, we will try and reassign those adjectives, move those pounds from our paunch, convert them to dollars, and load up our bank accounts. Each year, I like to look back and see just how much I’ve accomplished, instead of constantly focusing on how far I still have to go. One major highlight of 2015 was a rather spontaneous “Cannonball Run” road trip through the Balkans over Easter, beginning in Austria and running the circuit down to Thessaloniki in Greece. This afforded me an opportunity to view a region of the world that is remarkably under appreciated. Each Slavic country boasts beautiful and picturesque landscapes, as well as a fierce sense of personal identity and pride to distinguish a uniqueness in each place. During the trip (and thanks to the linguistic acumen of my friend Danny and his fluent Serbian), we interacted with locals … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #6: Miloš Plavac Mali

#WineWednesday Spotlight #5: Merry Christmas with the Geyerhof Grüner Veltliner Rosensteig

Sometimes it is tricky to have all your kids at home at the same time. As your kids get older, there’s something you understand very quickly: you need to be flexible with your schedule and that’s why we celebrated Christmas on Saturday December 19th. On the menu, we had a choucroute garnie, one of my daughter’s favorite dishes and a recipe that comes from my mom’s old pressure cooker cookbook. We’re also lucky to have a fantastic German butcher in the neighborhood where we can buy his own fermented sauerkraut, smoked meat and sausages. The recipe is really easy. Layer up the sauerkraut with bacon, smoked pork chops, sausages, onions, and carrots. Don’t forget the secret ingredient: a tart apple. Spice it with black peppercorns, cloves, and juniper berries, pour a bottle of Riesling, close the cooker lid, and cook for an hour. Serve with steamed potatoes and frankfurters. Although the dish calls for Alsatian Riesling, I really like it with the Austrian Geyerhof Grüner Veltliner Rosensteig. Organically farmed by the Maier family, the Rosensteig vineyard (“rose path” in German) is a terraced slope above the Danube characterized by deep loess soils. For me, the Grüner Veltliner that is produced … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #5: Merry Christmas with the Geyerhof Grüner Veltliner Rosensteig

E-Gift Cards Make Gifting Wine Fast and Easy

We are very excited to announce that we are now selling E-Gift Cards in the webshop! These make the perfect last minute Holiday gifts if you already missed shipping cutoffs. They also eliminate the need to guess which wines your friend or family member will enjoy best, since they will be able to browse our complete online inventory. How it works: Indicate an amount of your choosing to put on the card, provide the recipient’s name and email address, then instantly your gift will arrive via email. Or you can elect to postpone delivery to a future date of your choice. Our E-Gift cards are available in four different celebratory styles, making them suite any occasion! E-Gift cards can be purchased here.

The Youthful Evolution of Dalmatia

It was back in 2007 that I set about to write the first edition of my Dalmatian wine guide. Since then, I’ve fully updated it four times to arrive at the current edition. I realize of course that even the most recent edition will need updating again as these wines are constantly in s state of flux, especially when taken in the context of watching this evolution for the last decade. I was in Dalmatia for the Dalmacija Wine Expo this year. While it was my first time, the event has been going on for the last six years or so, first further south in Makarska and then for the last two years with a couple of additional days spent in Dalmatia’s much easier to reach capital, Split. People naturally told me that the event in Makarska sees more winemakers and is much more of a party. Maybe at some point I’ll find the time to make it there but what I saw and tasted in Split was plenty to re-acquaint myself with wineries I’ve gotten to know well over the years. The biggest thing to note in Dalmatia wine has been the evolution of most winemakers’ portfolios. For me, … Continue reading The Youthful Evolution of Dalmatia

#WineWednesday Spotlight #4: Shumi Zigu

Shumi Zigu​ – A Georgian “Port” wine made from more than 300 native grape varieties​ The Shumi Winery sits in the appellation of Tsinandali within Georgia’s largest wine region, Kakheti. The specialty of the appellation is a dry white wine of the same name. We visited Shumi on our first trip to Georgia and were immediately impressed. ​They are a mid-size operation and everyone from CEO and wine maker to the marketing and bottling teams is extremely down to earth​, ​friendly​, and competent.​ Shumi greeted us with a special tasting of ​​wines and one of the most delicious meals during the trip. We sat in a beautiful garden setting enjoying kebabs grilled over grapevines, the freshest salads you can imagine, exquisite traditional vegetable stews, and heavenly bread, straight from the oven. Of course we were enjoying our tasting of the Shumi wines as well. Then a small bottle was brought out and we were simply told that it was a special wine the winery was trying out. What it turned out to be was “Zigu”, a ​field-blend of grapes picked from the winery’s experimental vineyard. This vineyard contains around 300 grape varieties, mostly Georgian in origin. The grapes are co-harvested … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #4: Shumi Zigu

#WineWednesday Spotlight #3: 2011 Fekete Béla Olaszrizling

I don’t pride myself on wine parlor tricks like blind tasting, but I’d bet my first or second born on picking out a glass of just about anything from Hungary’s Somló appellation. There is such a visceral reaction to the salt, botrytis and weight in these wines. My olfactory memory is rarely this loud and clear. This is particularly the case with the 2011 Fekete Béla Olaszrizling. It’s also strange that this grape is perhaps one of the most widely planted in Central Europe. In Croatia it’s called Graševina, Welchsriesling in Austria, Riesling Italico in Italy, and Laški Rizling in Slovenia. Why so unique in Somló? Maybe it’s because in 1752, local laws stated that if you were found adding water to wine, expect 25 lashings as the minimum punishment. If you were found to be labeling wine as Somló but using other fruit sources, you would be banned from making wine permanently and might even have your property confiscated. Perhaps this historical legacy, or that Hungarian Kings bought vineyards here, or that insurgent Hungarian troops fighting against the Habsburgs would solute the vineyards as they marched past, but what is certain is the unique community of growers here. Perhaps … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #3: 2011 Fekete Béla Olaszrizling

#WineWednesday Spotlight #2: Samuel Tinon Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos

Our featured wine this week just appeared in an article written by acclaimed New York Times wine writer, Eric Asimov. Samuel Tinon produces his wine in Hungary’s oldest and most celebrated wine region: Tokaj. The word “Aszú” refers to the dried hand picked botrytis infected grapes. Puttonyos (literally baskets) refers to the ratio of Aszú berries to base wine. For a 5 Puttonyos, the residual sugar must have a minimum of 120 g/l. These Aszú berries are then mashed into a super sweet thick black paste and macerated in a finished dry wine for a month. Finally the wine spends two long years fermenting in barrel, constantly in contact with oxygen. This balance between building good oxidation into the wine brings out an incredible aromatic profile. Here is what Eric Asimov had to say about the 2005 Tinon Aszú 5 Puttonyos: While similar, a 2005 5 puttonyos aszú from Samuel Tinon is also entirely different, as if the botrytis had taken the wine in unexpected directions that year. The peach and apple flavors beckon, as does the great acidity and balance, but the flavors seem wrapped in hazelnut and caramel, beautifully fresh and complex. Read the entire article from the … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #2: Samuel Tinon Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos

Introduction to Georgia: Discussing Producers and Grape Varieties

Part two of our interview with Stetson focusing on introducing our new Georgian producers and some of the indigenous varietals to become familiar with. Read part one of our interview here. Let’s talk about the producers. How would you introduce them? S: I’ll start with Kindzmarauli Marani and Shumi who share a similar story. Both are larger, modern wineries, producing “European-style” wines. This means that instead of qvevri they use stainless steel and/or oak barrels. They are located on either side of the Alazani River, in Kakheti — Georgia’s largest wine region — within two major appellations. Kindzmarauli Marani is on the left bank in the Kindzmarauli appellation, known for semi-sweet reds. Shumi is on the right bank within Tsinandali, an important white wine appellation. Even though both are considered large wineries, there is so much care that goes into the wines. Instead of purchasing fruit, both source from their own estates. Both are also dedicated to Georgia’s viticultural future. You can find experimental vineyards at both estates with hundreds of varietals, both indigenous and international. The goal is to see which grapes are most successful in their conditions. It’s encouraging to see this interest in supporting Georgia’s rich viticultural … Continue reading Introduction to Georgia: Discussing Producers and Grape Varieties

Introduction to Georgia: A Brief Discussion of an 8,000 Year History

The journey down the Danube river continues! As you know, our company is named Blue Danube Wine because the wines we source come from the countries through which the Danube river flows. If you continue to follow the river, it empties into the Black Sea, at the Republic of Georgia. It only makes sense that we expand our selection of Georgian wines. Stetson Robbins, our New York Sales manager, has been to Georgia twice and personally selected the new wines we are excited to introduce. Read our interview with him to learn more about the country, the wines, and why you need to try them! Be sure to read part two for more information on the producers and grape varieties. Tell us a bit about Georgia as a country? S: What a special place! I was struck during my visits by the geological, biological, and cultural differences throughout the relatively small country. Georgia is truly at the crossroads of civilization. The triangle-shaped country is one of Europe’s most diverse landscapes. Situated between a desert, Caucasian peaks, and the Black and Caspian seas, many different climatic influences can be seen. This also contributes to a density of biological diversity. As you … Continue reading Introduction to Georgia: A Brief Discussion of an 8,000 Year History