Good Words on Slovenian Wines

One of the best wine blogs on the net. Alder over at Vinography just wrote a great article summing up the merits of a number of the Slovenian wines we carry. Some of his favorites included, 2005 Kogl “Mea Culpa”, 1999 Batić Reserve Pinot Gris, and 2004 Batić Pinot Gris Riserva. He went on to elicit, “Any wine lover who enjoys white wines I strongly urge to seek out some Slovenian wine and give it a try.” Don’t take our word for it though and read his entire article. It’s a great summation of the Slovenian wine industry and the very high quality wines that they are producing and we are happy to import. Probably the only thing we’d add is that Slovenian is not just about the whites. There are a great many reds that we feel warrant a lingering, enjoyable tasting.

Croatian Cuisine & Wines at Del Monte

Del Monte Restaurant is in Sunnyvale, CA Since coming back from our trip to Southeastern Europe last summer, we haven’t had the chance to eat any dishes from the region as San Francisco is lacking in restaurants specializing in Balkan cuisine. Fortunately, for all of us Ćevapčići lovers in the Bay Area there is Del Monte Restaurant in downtown Sunnyvale, on Murphy Avenue. Del Monte, in spite of the name, is a 100% Croatian family business: Mate Slade, the head of the family, usually can be found in the kitchen doing what he loves best, while his wife Dragica can be found in the restaurant greeting the guests who all seem to know her, alongside her son who serves the tables. The interior of Del Monte Originally from Dubrovnik, they came to California some 25 years ago by way of Louisiana, New Orleans and Washington D.C. We recently had dinner for the first time at Delmonte with some relatives, and so we got to try almost everything in their menu. Although the decor is lacking in sophistication, it has a Croatian feel to it as well as a family atmosphere that we enjoyed together with the big plates of food. … Continue reading Croatian Cuisine & Wines at Del Monte

2008 American Wine Blog Winners Announced

Two of the American Wine Blog Award winners Winners of the second annual American Wine Blog Awards were announced yesterday by Tom Wark who writes the wine blog Fermentation and who started them two years ago to give recognition to dedicated wine bloggers and stimulate new ones to start. Among the winners we found one of our favourite wine blogs, San Francisco’s acclaimed Vinography by Alder Yarrow, who won the awards for best overall wine blog and best wine blog writing. Not only is Vinography an excellent source of information and inspiration on restaurants and wine bars in San Francisco, but he has also reviewed several Austrian and Slovenian wines in the past, as well as one of our favourite Croatia whites, Bibich’s Debit. We strongly suspect that he’s been getting more into Croatian and Slovenian wines lately, since he celebrated the award with a bottle of Malvazija from Koper (perhaps by Santomas?). Other winners of the American Wine Blog Awards included Good Wine Under $20 (best wine review blog and best single subject blog), Tablas Creek (best winery blog), The Wine Collector (best wine business blog), Chateau Petrogasm (best wine blog graphics), and Grape Radio (best wine podcast/video blog). … Continue reading 2008 American Wine Blog Winners Announced

Discovering the Paso Robles Wine Country

Vineyards in Paso Robles at sunset. Last weekend more than 90 wineries participated in the 2008 Paso Robles Zinfandel Festival, which included an array of special events such as winemaker dinners, food pairings, seminars, open houses, a live auction and special tastings. Although (unfortunately) this year we didn’t make it to the festival, we recently had the opportunity to visit Paso Robles Wine Country and to enjoy some of the region’s fine wines. Paso Robles is located on California’s central coast, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Paso Robles has a long history of winemaking and grape growing beginning in 1797 when the first wine grapes were introduced by the Franciscan missionaries at the historic Mission San Miguel Arcangel. The Padres produced wine for sacramental purposes and made brandy for export. After Mexico secularized the California missions in the 1840s the vineyards were abandoned until European immigrant farmers started to arrive in the 1860s, following California’s independence in 1850. Today, Paso Robles is California’s third largest and fastest growing wine region, with over 26,000 acres of vineyards (more on Paso Robles Wine Country history can be found here). Cabernet Sauvignon is the leading variety for the Paso Robles appellation, … Continue reading Discovering the Paso Robles Wine Country

Slovenia? Wild, wild wines

The article in the Los Angeles Times. Yesterday’s article by Corie Brown in the L.A. Times, From Slovenia? Wild, wild wines speaks enthusiastically of wines from Slovenia, a region that “is getting hotter by the minute”. The article highlights the boldness of Slovenian winemakers, who are young, experimenting and obtaining some really good results. Revered wine expert expert Jancis Robinson is quoted to have said after her recent trip to Slovenia: “They are quite anarchic and individual in their use of oak and, to my mind, are making more distinctive wines than most of their neighbors in [Italy’s] Friuli.” Brown also spoke to Pieter Verheyde, head sommelier at Bastide in West Hollywood, one of the best restaurants in the Los Angeles area that have embraced Slovenian wines in their wine list. For Verheyde, “they’re lively and complex with unexpected flavors”, and bring diversity to Bastide’s 1,400 label list. He pairs the Santomas Malvazija with a ceviche of scallops, the Refošk with dry aged beef, and the Movia Pinot Noir with Hawaiian sea bass. It all sounds delicious. The two winemakers that the article talks most about are also the most famous ones in the US. Aleš Kristiančić from Movia is … Continue reading Slovenia? Wild, wild wines

Austrian Wine Dinner at Café Venezia

Café Venezia’s main dining area Last Thursday on November 8th, Blue Danube Wines supplied the wines for an Austrian Wine dinner at Café Venezia in Berkeley. It was a great opportunity for those not yet familiar with Austrian cuisine, to taste it while sipping some of the finest wines of that country. Cooking in action. Café Venezia is a nice, spacious restaurant on University Avenue that sits pleasantly far enough away from the student buzz of UC Berkeley, yet close enough to the town center to be very much a part of Berkeley. With high windows that look out to the street, you’re beckoned in to a warm interior that is held up by a wonderfully friendly wait staff. The interior picks up on the restaurant’s namesake with kitsch murals and a clothesline of laundry, while at the same time allows one to sit down, have a good meal, and feel pleasantly at home. The four course dinner started with a tasty charcuterie plate of typical Austrian meats and cheese, paired with a new release of Grüner Veltliner from Schmelz winery. Grüner Veltliner, which accounts for over a third of Austria’s vineyards, is one of the country’s most famous varietals, … Continue reading Austrian Wine Dinner at Café Venezia

Tasting Degrassi at the Top of Istria

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe The Degrassis in their awards room. In the very top northwest corner of Istria is a small little tip that juts out in to the Adriatic and is where the two very small towns of Bašanija and and Savudrija. Bomarchese Malvazija It is here that the winery of Degrassi calls home. Of course, they don’t grow any of their vines here, those 15 hectares are around Buje which is much further inland to the east. But here are their cellars and tasting room. They have been doing business in this location since 2006, although the company has been around for the last 11 years. After a brief glance around, it is easily seen that the family has very good taste with everything appointed in handmade furniture and nice, dark fixtures. It’s also here that we learned the difference between Refošk and Teran, which are the same grape. Is the stem of the vine is red, is is Refošk. If the stem is green, it’s Teran. There were also some geographical distinctions in the past that have since faded away, leaving just the confusion about the name … Continue reading Tasting Degrassi at the Top of Istria

Međimurje-Zagorjes Wine Route

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe The Međimurje Wine Route After spending several weeks exploring the wines and wineries of the Croatian coast of Dalmatia, we were headed towards Slovenia. However, while in Zagreb for a couple of days, we were advised to check out the Wine Route of the little region of Međimurje, about an hour north of Zagreb in the area bordering Slovenia and Hungary. Once there we didn’t regret the detour, for it was one of the loveliest spots in the interior of Croatia that we’ve seen. In this extremely green area, even in summer vineyards are sparkling and verdant on the slopes of the gently rolling hills that cover the land. In between grape vines there are dots of traditional family houses for those who are still here, making the wine. Although obviously not as touristic or popular as the Wine Routes on the coastal areas, we found Međimurje’s Wine Road to be surprisingly well-developed and organized. Not only were we handed several brochures and maps of the main twenty something wineries that are part of the route, but we also saw plenty of road signs showing the … Continue reading Međimurje-Zagorjes Wine Route

An Evening with Alen Bibić Part 1

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe The town of Skradin. The Bibić Family have always been outsiders to some degree. Wine has been in their blood for a long time, but they’ve never really played by the rules. For instance, when everyone else was selling to the collectives during Yugoslavia, they didn’t. When everyone else stopped making wine in Skradin because of war, they didn’t, making them one of the very few producers in the region currently. And when everyone started spelling their names with a ‘ć’ instead of ‘ch’, they named their wines Bibich, instead of Bibić. These may seem like small things to the casual observer, but it was our opinion that they are the points in life and history that defined winemaking for the Bibić family today and specifically for the man at the helm, Alen Bibić. Alen Bibić We had the incredibly good fortune to sit down with him for several hours in his lovely new wine bar and restaurant (actually a joint partnership called, ‘Alante’- Alen and his friend Ante) in Skradin for a meal and a taste of his wines. Skradin is in and of itself … Continue reading An Evening with Alen Bibić Part 1

Theres More to Brač Than Sandy Beaches

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe The harbor to the right, winery to the left. Tourists dead center. The island of Brač, the third biggest of the 1,184 off the cost of Croatia, and the biggest in the region of Dalmatia, is mostly known for its postcard-perfect beach in the town of Bol. Described by the Croatian Tourist Board brochures as “the most beautiful beach on the Adriatic”, the famous Zlatni Rat (Golden Beach in Croatian) owes its fame to its original cone shape and for being one of the very few on the Croatian coast that features sand instead of rocks, pebbles, or the most unfortunate: concrete. PZ Wines. Although currently the economy of Brač is based mostly on beach tourism, historically it has always been famous for its wines, goat cheese, and olive oil (as well as its white stone which, as a side note, it was used to build the White House in DC). Nowadays the biggest and oldest winery in Brač is PZ Bol, the island’s cooperative that now belongs to the Jeruzalem wine company in Zagreb. Founded over a hundred years ago, in 1903, it is located … Continue reading Theres More to Brač Than Sandy Beaches