Contributed by Matthew Gaughan: wine blogger and educator based in Napa, CA. See Matthew’s blog Matthew’s World of Wine & Drink Rosenhof Orion Eiswein 2012 When I first started taking wine seriously – as opposed to merely drinking it – one of the styles of wine which most intrigued me was Eiswein (or Icewine in English, it being one of the simpler German wine terms to translate). The idea of allowing grapes to freeze and the labour involved in picking those frozen grapes in the middle of the night in inhospitable conditions made the wine one to approach with respect, and even a certain amount of reverence. The high prices charged for Eiswein – necessarily so, given the time and cost of producing it – added to the intrigue: to taste one was a luxury. Since then, I have learnt that a further challenge is to make an Eiswein that retains varietal characteristics rather than simply being a sweet wine packed full of sugar. As Eiswein is made from healthy, ripe grapes that are frozen on the vine to concentrate sugar levels, a rich, luscious sweetness can dominate. Riesling is an ideal grape to combat these challenges, due to its … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #23: Rosenhof Orion Eiswein
Despite what the date might indicate, spring doesn’t truly arrive until the sun comes out, the temperatures reach a balmy level, and everything blossoms. You can feel it in the air. Thankfully, this happens sooner than later in the Bay Area, except for the occasional patch of fog. In Austria, however, an even bigger transformation takes place. The frigid winter temperatures and bracing winds give way to rolling green hills and budding vineyards as far as the eye can see. Around this time of year I like to sit outside in the sunshine, especially with friends in the Styrian countryside. Styria, Austria’s second-largest federal state by geographical area, is also known as the “Green Heart of Austria”. Situated in the southeast of the country, culture here shares many similarities and traditions with neighboring Slovenia to the south and Hungary to the east. The wines of Styria are also exceptionally unique, due to a milder, more Mediterranean climate, which is trapped in the “bowl” formed by the Alps to the north. These wines, almost exclusively white varietals, possess crisp, clean acidity and a lightheartedness that make them perfect to enjoy on the terrace in the warm spring breeze. In keeping with … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #22: Reiterer Schilcher
Can you list 25 things that you know about Croatian wine? If you’re not sure but love the wines, Total Croatia New has compiled a fascinating list. Here is #1: 1. Tribidrag – one of the great red noble grape varieties of the world, known as Zinfandel in California as well as Primitivo in the south of Italy, hails from Croatia, more precisely from Dalmatia, where it is known as Crljenak Kaštelanski and Pribidrag or Tribidrag. New vineyards have been planted over the past decade and the most notable producers include Bedalov and Vuina from Kašela, Mimica from Omiš, Rizman from Komarna and Stina from the Island of Brač. and #21 features a familiar person: 21. Alen Bibić – of Bibich winery from Plastovo, near Skradin in Northern Dalmatia is probably the most versatile gastro & wine figure in Croatia encompassing wine production, fantastic private restaurant, great marketing skills while making some of the most expensive wines in Croatia and at the same time selling the largest portion of his production in the Unites States. Anthony Bourdain visited Bibich winery and famously proclaimed “Why, oh why, is there so much amazing wine in this country?”. Read the whole article here.
There are a slew of brand new producers from Hungary landing in the coming months. For many, this will be their very first time in the United States. This is of course an exciting and somewhat terrifying proposition. How will a Kéknyelű from Badacsony be received? Traditional Method sparkling Furmint from outside of Tokaj? Hárslevelű with Benedictine roots planted on a Basalt volcano? I have no idea and I can’t wait to get started. Upon our last visit to the Hungarian appellation of Somló we were fortunate enough to run into Zoltán Balogh from Apátsági Winery. Their estate and cellar were originally owned by the Benedictine Pannonhalma Archabbey. After WWII, the land was expropriated and redistributed during Communism. It was brought back to life in 2001 with 5 people (including the grandson of the last winemaker before the war), 3 hectares, no herbicides, no pesticides, and using large oak fermenters. Their 2013 Hárslevelű exemplifies what Zoltán admires about the appellation as a whole, “When you have Somló acid, why not find balance with sugar.” A concentrated and alive wine. Speaking of acid, but without skin contact and botrytis, Somló is also home to Kreinbacher. While they do make some still … Continue reading Basalt buttes, a massive lake, and volcanic traditional method. 3 New arrivals from Hungary
Contributed by Marcy Gordon, CA based wine and travel writer, founder of Writing Between the Vines. Get along little donkey… 2009 Donkey Dingač Postup from Vinarija Dingač in Pelješac Peninsula, Croatia. This is a juicy spicy kick of dark fruits with bright acidity and firm tannins. There are two protected wine growing regions in southern Dalmatia– Postup and Dingač. And it can get a little confusing with regard to the varietal names. While this wine is made of 100% Plavac Mali grapes the wine is called Postup, after the wine-growing region on the Pelješac Peninsula. Also confusing is that Dingač is the name of both the region and the winery, a former communist co-op from the time when the area was still known as Yugoslavia. The donkey on the label is not only cute, but symbolic of the rugged lands and steep slopes in which the vines grow, making hand harvesting a necessity. But despite all the confusing names one thing is perfectly clear — the wine is delicious. It’s spicy and concentrated with a meatiness and hint of sage. Surprisingly it doesn’t drink like it’s 14.6 AVB! It’s bright indeed, but not hot. I love it and can’t wait … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #21: Dingač Postup
Alex Halberstadt takes a bells and whistles culinary tour of Slovenia for Travel + Leisure. Starting with Kabaj Rebula and a bowl of Katja’s Jota. Read the whole article here. Morel poured us his Rebula, an orange-hued white that smelled, improbably, of roses and tea. He ages the wine the way ancient Romans did: in clay amphorae lined with beeswax and buried in the ground. “Most orange wines are mistakes,” Morel said bluntly. His was not: I found it more delicate and fun to drink than most I’d had. Try Kabaj Rebula, or try Amphora, the wine referenced in the article that is aged in clay amphora.
We think yes! The wines are truly distinct and the country is gorgeous. Tara Isabella Burton writes about her experience in Georgia for The Wall Street Journal. The entire original article can be read here. Traveling through Georgia, the tiny post-Soviet country set between the Caucasus and the Black Sea, is always a metabolic endurance test. Wine, brandy, chacha—a grape-skin moonshine with the flavor of gasoline schnapps—all these are habitually, exuberantly, foisted upon any foreigner who sits still long enough. But in the country’s primary wine region of Kakheti—according to Georgians, the birthplace of wine itself—consumption seems to be the primary occupation. Browse Georgian wines. For an easy introduction to the wines of Georgia, try our 6-Pack Georgian Discovery Sampler
Contributed by Christine Havens, Portland-based wine writer and former winemaker. Original review can be found here. A country with an ancient wine growing and winemaking heritage, Georgia is little more than a blip on the radar of the American wine scene. I hope that will change with time, as I have been favorably impressed by the wines I’ve sampled thus far. Credited as the birthplace of viticulture and even vitis vinifera itself, the country is home to some 500 indigenous varieties, the most widely cultivated of which are Saperavi and Rkatsiteli. (Some years ago, my former mother-in-law had planted a few rows of Rkatsiteli, a think skinned, bronzy-pink white variety that seemed oddly out of place with our more conventional rows of Syrah, Cabernet and Chardonnay. But that is another story, for another time.) The 2013 Kindzmarauli Marani Dry Red Saperavi offers up ripe, juicy plums, dried black cherries and earthy terra cotta notes. There is a pronounced but pleasant herbaceous note on the nose and palate, something akin to bay leaf or green wood intertwining a rather gorgeous structure trussed in firm tannins that are equally distributed across the palate. The mouthfeel of this wine is, in many ways … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #20: Kindzmarauli Marani Saperavi