Wine Enthusiast recommends a few wines to get you into the season! Check out the article “Spring Ahead with These Floral Wines” by Jameson Fink. Since April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring? Floral wines, naturally. Enjoying aromatic wines is a sure-fire path to sensory pleasure. These five wines selected by our editors deliver vibrant floral bouquets—even if it’s raining outside. One of our wines is on the list: Muhr-Van der Niepoort 2013 Samt & Seide Blaufränkisch There’s nothing obvious about this subtle and elegant wine.The nose holds back and the taut palate unfurls slowly to show a floral, fruity wine reminiscent of crimson peony petals as much as of dark, juicy cherries. A sensuous, intriguing wine of great elegance whose name means “Silk & Velvet.” —Anne Krebiehl
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending a potica baking workshop hosted by the Slovenian Hall in San Francisco. I knew that potica was an important, sweet staple for Slovenians but little else. When I saw the invitation, I jumped at the opportunity to learn more and have the chance to taste this delicacy prepared by local experts. I’m glad I did! Potica (pronounced po-teet-sa), which roughly means “to wrap in” in Slovene, is a traditional cake often served at holiday celebrations, especially Easter. Every family has its favorite recipe but it is usually a rolled bread filled with a walnut paste. It can be shaped as a log, baked in a loaf pan or in a Bundt pan. It was a fun afternoon featuring 3 different variations on the treat. I chose one to share with you here and hope that you will give it a try, perhaps as a snack along side a Slovenian wine? Recipe, courtesy of Blair Kilpatrick Dough 1 c. plus 6 T. butter, melted and cooled 1 c. + 1 t. sugar 6 egg yolks 1-1/2 c. sour cream 2 packages dry yeast 3/4 c. warm milk 6 c. flour 1 … Continue reading Celebrate Spring with Potica, the traditional Slovenian cake
Bottlenotes recommends adding these three Central European wines to your repertoire. For the past decade, wines from Central and Eastern Europe have been something of a sommelier secret stateside. The names can be hard to pronounce (hárslevelű, anyone?), but the best bottles offer exceptional value and tend to work extremely well with food. Here are the three recommended wines: Samuel Tinon Furmint Birtok (Tokaj, Hungary) Sommeliers and wine insiders have been raving about furmint for years. The grape, which is commonly used to make Hungary’s famous sweet wines, also makes an intriguing dry wine with medium- to full-body and high acidity (read: an ideal wine to pair with food). Piquentum Blanc (Istria, Croatia) Croatia may have initially gained some international fame for its red wines, but many sommeliers now feel that the white Malvasia coming out of the country is some of the best representations of the grape in Europe. When made in a dry style, it makes a crisp wine with some weight in the body, similar to dry Chenin Blanc. Orgo Rkatsiteli (Kakheti, Georgia) Georgian wines can be tricky to pin down from producer to producer. Some are quite rustic and oxidative, while a growing number offer more … Continue reading 3 Wines from Central Europe You Need To Know Now
What Is Darker Than Black? By: Jeff Vejr, Winemaker at Golden Cluster, Wine Director at Holdfast Dining, Consultant at Winelist.Consulting, and Narrator & Host of the upcoming web series The Winesman. I would like to introduce you to the wine grape Otskhanuri Sapere. Otskhanuri Sapere is one of the oldest red grapes in Georgia. It is believed that the grape originated from the village of “Otskhana” in the Guria region, in the western part of the country. Sapere loosely translates to “something you color with” in Georgian. So, it is known as “Otskana’s colorful” or Otskhanuri Sapere. These days, the best examples of Otskhanuri Sapere are found in the districts of Baghdati, Zestaponi, and Terjola in the Imereti region of central Georgia. The grape can also be found in select locations in the Racha region of northern Georgia. It is also believed that while this grape is centuries old, it is maybe only 50% domesticated and 50% wild. Having seen the vineyard and tasted the grape, I can understand this belief. It also makes sense since Georgia is one of the few places left on Earth where “wild” wine grapes still exist. One of the noble attributes of Otskhanuri Sapere … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #19: Amiran’s Otskhanuri Sapere
On March 22nd we held a tasting of two dynamic Austrian wine estates, Geyerhof and Muhr-van der Niepoort, at Jadis Wine Bar in New York. Acclaimed wine critic and writer Stuart Pigott attended and has graciously allowed us to share his review of the event here. Enjoy! New York Wine Diary: Day 5 – The Fragrance of Austria by Stuart Pigott Last night at Jadis wine bar on Rivington Street in the Lower East Side I had a Close Encounter of the Third Kind with the wonderful fragrance that Austrian wine is capable of. I’m not talking about the in-your-face kind of aromas that many so-called Icon Wines from around the globe have – they are often so over-concentrated that they slams into you like rogue waves – much less the kind of overwhelming artificiality that many modern fragrances (for men and for women!) display. No, I’m talking about the aromatic delicacy that is possible in various parts of Austria, particularly with indigenous grape varieties like the white Grüner Veltliner and the red Blaufränkisch (aka Kékfrankos / Lemberger), or well-integrated immigrants like the white Riesling (from Germany) and Sauvignon Blanc (from the Loire in France). Let’s start with tannic red … Continue reading The Fragrance of Austria by Stuart Pigott
Somló is Hungary’s smallest appellation and once an underwater volcano. Now dormant, its slopes of ancient sea sediment, hardened lava, and basalt are home to some of Hungary’s steepest, most densely planted vineyards. Somló is also home to winemaker Fekete Béla, who only recently retired after 30 + years tending the same vineyard. Our spotlight this week is his Juhfark as reviewed by Portland-based wine writer, Christine Havens: From an obscure, nearly extinct grape variety, Juhfark translated literally means “sheep’s tail” so named because tightly clustered bunches have a distinctive curve at the tip. Found only in the Somló region of Hungary, this non-aromatic variety is typically aged in large oak barriques. Meyer lemon zest, cling peaches, chamomile, and white flowers round out the nose. It’s a broad-shouldered white with a coursing vein of acidity, along with a mineral upwelling that showcases an ashy, volcanic soil type. Although Béla recommends drinking it with roasted wild fowl, rich cheeses, smoked fish, and subtly spicy dishes are all welcome pairings. Happy Hungarian #WineWednesday!
A group of Blue Danubians are preparing a trip to Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast around the middle of April. As we started to put together our agenda we realized we should make visiting the original Zinfandel, or as the grape is known in Croatia, Crljenak Kaštelanski vineyards a top priority. This brought to mind the book written by Jasenka Piljac Žegarac, one of the scientists on Dr. Carole Meredith’s team who participated in the discovery of Zinfandel’s Croatian heritage. We got in touch with her to find out more and prepare for our own journey of discovery. 1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? What is your professional background? I was born in Croatia, but largely educated in the US where I completed both my high school and college education (UC Davis, biochemistry). I come from a family of well-established research scientists, physicians, and authors. Therefore, although my background is in plant biology (PhD) and natural products chemistry (postdoctoral work), I’ve always had an interest in medicine, medical research, and science writing. 2. What brought you to UC Davis to trace the origins of Zinfandel? My family moved to Davis from Croatia in early 1990s, due to ongoing … Continue reading An Interview with Jasenka Piljac Zegarac, author of “Zinfandel: A Croatian-American Wine Story”
Our friend James the Wine Guy just posted another great video review, this time of the delicious Austrian red Muhr-van der Niepoort Samt & Seide. The name means Velvet & Silk in German and is an accurate description of the wine’s character. Composed of 100% Blaufränkisch from the extreme eastern Austrian winegrowing region Carnuntum, it speaks with authority and elegance in equal measure. I love, love, love Austrian red wines…I just delight in this wine. I think it’s so expressive and beautiful. James gives this wine 94 points out of 100 finding fruit, earth, and floral aromatics. He suggests pairing it with foods like pork, beef, salmon, red sauce dishes, and anything spiced with paprika. Watch the whole review below. Try a bottle or even better, buy our Austrian 6-pack! It includes the Bernreiter Heuriger 2014 (1 Liter), the Bernreiter Gemischter Satz 2013, the Geyerhof Grüner Veltliner Rosensteig 2014, the Geyerhof Zweigelt Ried Richtern 2011, the Muhr-van der Niepoort Samt & Seide 2012 and the Muhr-van der Niepoort Spitzerberg 2012. All 6 bottles for just $150! Sign up for Club Vino Danubia and get free shipping!
If you are interested in learning more about Georgian wine and culture, you must check out Alice Feiring’s newly released book “For the Love of Wine – My Odyssey through the World’s Most Ancient Wine Culture”. We have copies available here for $25, including shipping. More about the book from University of Nebraska Press: In 2011 when Alice Feiring first arrived in Georgia, she felt as if she’d emerged from the magic wardrobe into a world filled with mythical characters making exotic and delicious wine with the low-tech methods of centuries past. She was smitten, and she wasn’t alone. This country on the Black Sea has an unusual effect on people; the most passionate rip off their clothes and drink wines out of horns while the cold-hearted well up with tears and make emotional toasts. Visiting winemakers fall under Georgia’s spell and bring home qvevris (clay fermentation vessels) while rethinking their own techniques. But, as in any good fairy tale, Feiring sensed that danger rode shotgun with the magic. With acclaim and growing international interest come threats in the guise of new wine consultants aimed at making wines more commercial. So Feiring fought back in the only way she knew … Continue reading “For the Love of Wine – My Odyssey through the World’s Most Ancient Wine Culture” by Alice Feiring
This week James the Wine Guy reviews Shumi Tsinandali, an appellation controlled white wine blend from the Republic of Georgia. The indigenous grapes Rkatsiteli and Mtsvane combine to create harmonious flavors and aromas of citrus. This is a superb wine…really spectacular! On this I’m getting notes of moist stones, green and yellow citrus zest, quince, and passionfruit. Gorgeous minerality to this wine, lean yet assuringly generous at the same time…seek this wine out! If you are not familiar with James’s wine reviews, he creates videos for each wine and posts them on YouTube. Watch the video below to see his full evaluation of this “compelling” wine!