An Uncertain Future for the World’s Most Iconic Sweet Wines

Is there a future for traditional sweet wines as global taste changes? Zachary Sussman explores the “uncertain” future for the world’s famous sweet wines, like Hungary’s Tokaji Aszú, in this article for Punch. Ironically, the examples that have fallen the furthest out of fashion—basically, port, Sauternes and Tokaji—were once revered as the coveted darlings of kings and counts and royal courts. It was by virtue of their sweetness, in fact, that they first gained international fame. Not only did high sugar contents prevent spoilage during the days before refrigeration, allowing wines to enter the export market as global commodities, but sugar also enjoyed luxury status at the time: The kind of intense sweetness found in a bottle of port or Tokaji was inseparable from its aura of aristocratic splendor….What’s next? Faced with declining sales and a wine culture that increasingly prizes the savory, the saline and the mineral, will these regions take the necessary steps to remain relevant? Or are they destined to survive as mere museum pieces? Our own Stetson Robbins weighs in on the shift away from traditional wine styles in Tokaj: Even at the sweetest levels, producers in Tokaji are moving towards a brighter, modern style. Hopefully, … Continue reading An Uncertain Future for the World’s Most Iconic Sweet Wines

Forget Red, White, and Rosé—Orange Wine Is What You Should Be Sipping This Fall

Fashion alert! “Orange” wine is in for fall says Carson Demmond for Vogue Magazine. Five years ago marked the entrance of “orange wine”—an obscure category that has stirred some very vocal proponents and riled some very vocal detractors—into the international wine scene. Though the style has been produced for quite some time, the “orange” description was purportedly coined in 2004 by a U.K.-based wine importer who encountered a bottle in winemaker Frank Cornelissen’s cellar in Sicily. It refers to certain white wines (yes, they’re made from white grapes) that fall somewhere on the color spectrum of fall foliage. Their flavors also have great autumnal appeal, since many can be downright and broodingly earthy. This style of winemaking, which involves extended periods of skin maceration, is very traditional in some countries like Slovenia and the Republic of Georgia. The article suggests a few must try wines for fall, including one from Kabaj, a winery we have worked with for some time now. 2011 Kabaj Rebula Goriška Brda, Slovenia Since very little has been written on the ancient methods, Kabaj’s winemaker—Jean-Michel Morel—opted to study at a Georgian monastery to fine-tune his craft. This rebula (the Slovenian name for Italy’s ribolla) ferments with … Continue reading Forget Red, White, and Rosé—Orange Wine Is What You Should Be Sipping This Fall

“Great Wines from Slovenia” by Now And Zin Wine

Last month we had the privilege of hosting Jean-Michel from the Kabaj Winery for a few action packed weeks. Jean was here primarily to attend the Wine & Spirits Top 100 Wineries event in San Francisco. Kabaj Winery, located in Goriška Brda, Slovenia, was listed as a Top 100 Winery for the second time. To celebrate this achievement we arranged a number of events throughout California and New York. One such event was a reception at hot new restaurant Hatchet Hall in Culver City. Wine blogger Randy Fuller, who writes Now and Zin Wine, was able to join us, and has now graciously allowed us to repost his blog post about the event here for you! Many thanks, Randy! Trust Your Importer – Great Wines From Slovenia Blue Danube Wines is one of those importers you want to check in with from time to time. For those who don’t have an extensive knowledge of wines from countries other than the US, a good importer is a good thing to know. Importers tend to find the wines they like, and bring them home to the rest of us. So, if Slovenia, for instance, or some other Central European country catches your … Continue reading “Great Wines from Slovenia” by Now And Zin Wine

Fascinating Fact from WineSpeed: Botrytis Beginnings

Karen MacNeil, author of the Wine Bible and Director of the Wine Program at the Culinary Institute of America, recently wrote this “Fascinating Fact” on the history of sweet wine production: The world’s most highly prized dessert wines actually got off to a rotten start. The Sauternes region of France is best known for these wines today, but the practice of using botrytized grapes (those infected with the fungus Botrytis cinerea)to make unctuously sweet dessert wines actually began in Hungary’s Tokay region around 1650. (By comparison, the first Sauternes is thought to be an 1847 Chateau d’Yquem.) As the story goes, the Hungarian harvest was delayed that year due to a Turkish invasion. After several weeks of battle, Hungarians returned to their vineyards to find their grapes shriveled and rotting on the vine. They harvested them anyway, and, much to their surprise, found that, thanks to the fungus, the tiny amount of concentrated liquid left inside each grape tasted like honey! Sign up to receive more fascinating facts with Karen MacNeil’s WineSpeed at www.karenmacneil.com Try this “highly prized” wine for yourself! We have examples from several producers in Tokaj: Dorogi Eszencia 2008 Füleky Pallas Tokaji Late Harvest 2012 Füleky Tokaj … Continue reading Fascinating Fact from WineSpeed: Botrytis Beginnings

Inside Perspective: Talking Wine with an Insightful Croatian Wine Writer

Over the past few months, we have been fortunate to get to know Croatian wine writer, Nenad Trifunović, a bit better. He has also been so generous in allowing us to repost many of his translated wine reviews on our blog to share with all of you. We thought it would be nice to formally introduce him and get a better idea about his perspective on wine. I also encourage you to check out his blog Dnevnik Vinopije (Wine Drinker Journal). It is in Croatian but his insights our worth the effort of translating! 1. Tell us more about yourself. Where are you from? Where do you live? What is your “day job”? I was born in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital city. I had a great childhood growing up here. Upon finishing university, were I majored in Economics, I decided to stay in Zagreb. I work as a creative director at a marketing agency. Fifteen years ago I started as an entry level accountant, fell in love with being a copywriter, and today am a partner at the same agency. 2. Why are you so passionate about wine? My work requires me to have a business focus and writing about wine provides … Continue reading Inside Perspective: Talking Wine with an Insightful Croatian Wine Writer

Champagne’s Cooler Cousin: 5 Pét-Nat Sparkling Wines to Try Now

Vogue magazine knows that pét-nat is so hot right now. See this recent article by Kristin Tice Studeman on “Champagne’s Cooler Cousin”. So what is pét-nat exactly? It’s a natural sparkling wine, made from red or white grapes, bottled during the primary fermentation process. This means the wine reflects the natural sugars from the grapes and the native yeasts, so the result can vary quite a bit…In short, pét-nat is a whole lot of fun because you never quite know exactly what you are going to get, except that it will be light, effervescent, and easy drinking (it is typically low in alcohol). One of the five recommended pét-nats to try now, according to restaurateur Joe Carroll, is Štoka Bela (Vitovska) Peneče from Slovenia: “I think that’s one of my favorite wine regions in the world; they are doing some very exciting things right now,” says Carroll of Slovenia. This particular wine, from the Štoka Winery in Kras (near the Slovenian-Italian border), comes from an iron-rich terroir. The resulting wine is a little more acidic and high in minerality than most of the pét-nats on this list. Overall, its also one of the more straightforward offerings here.” Read the whole … Continue reading Champagne’s Cooler Cousin: 5 Pét-Nat Sparkling Wines to Try Now

Taste Croatian Wine, Admire Croatian Inspired Artwork

This last September three member artists from Viewpoints Gallery, Los Altos, CA, spent a week painting in Hvar, Croatia on a retreat organized by our friend, Marion Podolski. Marion and her husband, Zdravko, have a home on the island and spend part of the year living there. This exhibit is a collection of the paintings begun at various sites around the island and celebrates a week of friendship, food, wine and the natural beauty of Hvar. We hope you can join us at the opening reception Friday, November 6th 2015 5-8pm. The exhibit, consisting of watercolor paintings, will be hung on one front wall of the gallery. Of course the best way to enjoy Croatian inspired artwork is with a glass of Croatian wine! Look for our table for a taste of fine Croatian wine. Viewpoints Gallery – 315 State Street, Los Altos, CA 94022  Phone: (650) 941-5789 To learn more about the artist retreat and the Podolski’s adventures on Hvar, read their blog: Go Hvar.   Photo Credit: Dave Zittin

Hungarian Wine Regions: Szekszárd and its Elegant Reds

Get to know Hungary’s premier red wine region, Szekszárd. The wine region of Szekszárd, known mostly for its famous Kadarka red wine, has been noted for its wine culture since Roman times and became one of the main centres of Hungarian red wine production in the 15th century. As the climate of the sunny wine region is rather balanced, excellent red grapes can grow on the mostly loess lands. Szekszárd reds are known for their velvety texture, and often show a lot of elegance. Szekszárd, along with Eger, is also one of the two regions that produce the famous Hungarian Bikavér. Read the rest of the guide, written by Hungary Today, here. For an excellent example of the region and its signature Kadarka grape, try the sophisticated wines from the Eszterbauer family.

Bibich R5 as reviewed by Nenad Trifunović

The Bibich Winery is located in the hills of Skradin, 5 miles east of the idyllic port city of Šibenik, along Croatia’s island speckled coast. Across the Adriatic from Italy, it is roughly in line with the wine hills of Tuscany. With a focus on indigenous varietals as well as international ones, the Bibich winery produces a range of fine wines for every palate or mood. Nenad Trifunović, founder of Wine Drinker Journal, has generously shared his recent review of Bibich R5 2012 with us. His description will surely peak your interest in this unique white blend. Bibich, R5, 2012 Wood & Herbs in all`antica (the manner of the ancients) style… Dry structure with firm, grippy tannins on the palate. At the same time, the wine is juicy, at a perfectly drinkable 13% alc with acidity as smooth as silk. A crazy dance of fresh fruit (some quince and apricot) and exotic spices interconnected by oxidative character. Its hard to tell if you are in the fanciest restaurant imaginable or in a genuine Dalmatian “konoba” (traditional restaurant) at the start of the century. Unthinkable combination of flavors and yet they come together so very naturally, like sea salt and olive … Continue reading Bibich R5 as reviewed by Nenad Trifunović

Piquentum Blanc 2013 & 2014: A review by Nenad Trifunović

Ever wondered about the distinctive characteristics of Malvasia from Istria, Croatia? Respected Croatian wine writer Nenad Trifunović explains what to appreciate from the varietal, why Piquentum Blanc is one of his favorite examples, and the key differences between the last two vintages. Piquentum, Blanc 2014 vs. Piquentum, Blanc 2013 Soft aromas on the nose with gentle acacia and light, very mild oxidative hints from un-typical Malvasia Istriana, a clone of the varietal that is quite different from others. Different from dominant styles, Dimitri Brečević always tries to present the native and true character of Malvasia Istriana. Despite the fact that 2014 was an extremely difficult vintage, this wine shatters expectations. Although the fruity Malvasia Istriana wines can be drunk upon release, the wines benefit from a little aging to allow the bracing acidity to integrate completely. That being said, the 2014 is still green and raw in comparison to 2013. However, both wines are on the same track. The 2013 vintage exhibits the calm, supple side of Malvasia consistent with Dimitri Brečević’s sensibility. Persistent on the palate with a high level of extraction. Such beautiful simplicity makes a man wonder why not all Malvasia Istriana`s aren`t like this. Of course, … Continue reading Piquentum Blanc 2013 & 2014: A review by Nenad Trifunović