Countdown to MARKET TASTING NYC II

In honor of Blue Danube Wine Co.’s break-out NY Trade debut at Terroir Tribeca this coming Thursday, we plan to introduce a bunch of ultra special Hungarian wines that are being air freighted to NY as we speak. Days away, we are all wondering: will they make it in time??! The Jury is out, but the good news is that the 2nd of 4 deliveries has just arrived! Will the others make it? Hard to say! Let the count down begin, 2!! Here is a sneak peak: We, Blue Danubians, are accustomed to remarks noting the exotic names and natures of the varieties we source, so to praise the likes of a grape as common as Pinot Noir feels quite strange to us! Occasionally a wine demands it though. Vylyan Pinot Noir is possibly the most decorated wine in Hungary: awards and accolades cover the bottle like the pins of a military general. Vylyan planted Pinot Noir vines where fog gathers and grapes ripen slowly, in a belly button shaped depression smack dab in the middle of Villány, Hungary—basically their Cabernet country. It should be illegal to invoke Burgundy when talking about Pinot Noir that is not actually Burgundian, but … Continue reading Countdown to MARKET TASTING NYC II

Countdown to MARKET TASTING NYC I

In honor of Blue Danube Wine Co.’s break-out NY Trade debut at Terroir Tribeca this coming Thursday, we plan to introduce a bunch of ultra special Hungarian wines that are being air freighted to NY as we speak. Days away, we are all wondering: will they make it in time??! The Jury is out, but the good news is that the 1st of 4 deliveries has just arrived! Will the others make it? Hard to say! Let the count down begin, 3!! Here is a sneak peak: Little appellation, big WINES Millions of years ago, Somló, Hungary’s smallest appellation, was an underwater volcano. Now dormant, its southerly slopes of ancient sea sediment and basalt are home to some of Hungary’s steepest, most densely planted vineyards. Minutely divided, these rarely trellised parcels of vines are workable only by hand. The cellars and size of the production are also the smallest in Hungary, and again worked by hand. Somló’s exclusively white wines are typically made from Hárslevelű, Furmint, Olaszrizling, or the local rarity Jufark. The soil really “gets into the wines” and they are among the most distinctive wines we have ever encountered; aromas lean towards dried fruits, dried herbs and rare … Continue reading Countdown to MARKET TASTING NYC I

Alphabet City Wine Co. Photon Torpedos and Rebula

After 3 weeks of Friday nights at Alphabet City Wine Co finishing with my #2 East Coast tasting, I need a break. These guys don’t just sell wine, they use it. They drink it, they share it, they drink it, they sell it, drink some more, share some more, then close the shop to head over to Edi and the Wolf for more of the same. Its fun, but brutal. Party aside, manager and co-owner Keith Beavers talks about wine with the same hurried enthusiasm as a 12 year old geeking out on Star Wars (Keith’s second passion). Late night while gulping Črnko – Jareninčan with Keith, I compared the wine to Princess Lea and that was that, we were doing a tasting, next week in fact. Keith was not present due to an emergency research trip to study pina coladas in Mexico. Luckily his debaucherous Muay Thai trained, photographer/romeo/assistant-manager Ben Kaufman, pictured drinking from the bottle, was on hand to hold down the fort. We poured a really challenging line up that included the Crnko, the 09 Kabaj Rebula and the Dingač Vinarija – Pelješac. Initially I saw no apparent way to line up these 3 aromatically and texturally … Continue reading Alphabet City Wine Co. Photon Torpedos and Rebula

Impromptu afternoon tasting with Bed-Vyne Wine and Common Grounds

My first official Blue Danube Wine Co tasting since having relocated to NYC mid-July was just down the street from where I am staying in Bed-Stuy. Appropriately named Bed-Vyne Wine, it is owned and operated by Michael Brooks. A big community advocate, Michael often adds a wine component to the many neighborhood events. This time he teamed up with the good people at Common Grounds, a cozy coffee shop around the corner from Bed-Vyne, an artist who paints on canvas with spray cans, and a line up of our Hungarian delights. The favorites were the delicate Szõke Királyleányka , praised for its refreshment, and the sweet/spicy Törley Fortuna. Though this was a free tasting (as retail tastings in NY are), the participants were way into this Hungarian wine stuff and bought the store out of the Törley. Super casual atmosphere, people good and curious to taste and learn, this is all that’s needed for true wine appreciation. You don’t even need stemware! Eventually, I would like to do something bigger with Bed-Vyne that incorporates the full throttle Jamaican and Trinidadian cuisine and strong musicality of the area. We may have to bring the Fortuna back for the Jamaican jerked chicken. … Continue reading Impromptu afternoon tasting with Bed-Vyne Wine and Common Grounds

Insight and imagery: a photographer and her husband visit Slovenia and Croatia for the first time

San Fransisco based freelance photographer Robin Jolin has expertly documented a number of Blue Danube Wine Co events. Usually asking for payment in wine, we have watched her interest grow beyond the glass. Robin and her husband Jarred made their first trip to Middle Europe this past April. They spent two weeks wandering between the Slovenian/Italian border and the Island of Krk visiting wine producers and absorbing the hospitality, culture, olive oil, truffles, and most of all wine. The photographs are Robin’s, the words are Jarred’s. Read and view with caution, or risk an impulse purchase of a plane ticket to Ljubljana. Stetson: Beforehand what were your expectations of this trip?Jerred: We expected to experience a beautiful foreign land with the freedom a rented, compact automobile offers, all the while remaining well-fed on delicious, local fare and wine varietals, and to meet a small cross section of those responsible for creating these delectable treats. One aspect of traveling through this part of the world that we didn’t expect was the hospitality offered us by the winemakers we visited. Although strangers they treated us like important guests, providing us with anything necessary to keep us satiated. Another aspect we didn’t expect … Continue reading Insight and imagery: a photographer and her husband visit Slovenia and Croatia for the first time

From Central-Eastern Europe with love

Eric, Frank, and Stetson with Judit & József Bodó, and István Dorogi. It is difficult to convey the personal impact visiting the cellars and homes of the wine producers we met with on this past visit to Hungary, Austria and Croatia, but it goes far beyond wine. It nourished the mind and spirit, introduced us to future friends and developed existing friendships further. We now care deeply for these places that are not naturally “home” to us. Our gratitude to those who tend these vineyards is immeasurable. From the terraced vineyards of the Wachau to the snowy volcanic hills of Tokaji, to the Golden Valley of Kutjevo and every where in between – “THANK YOU” to all who were a part of it!! That all said…Damn!! Did we drink some great wine!!! Of course – This thank you extends to all those homes and cellars that we have visited on past trips and will visit on future trips, too! Dinner with the family: János & Monika Eszterbauer, and daughters Kata and Ildikó.

Shucking Plavac

powerfully flavored wild Belon oysters Most of my family holidays are spent on Peaks Island, Maine. A 30 minute ferry ride from the city of Portland, it is one of the most populous of the 365 Calendar Islands. In the summer tourists rule the place, gobbling up lobster and overloading the ferry, winter belongs to the wicked Nor Easter storms and the fishermen. Albeit unknowingly; I must thank my parents, for relocating from Southern California, to this, one of America’s great food destinations. Recently, my mom made friends with a favorite local oysterman. It was rumored that his were the best, so for this most recent visit she order 3½ dozen for just 4 of us. The guy hand delivered his day’s catch to the door. Most were these deliciously fresh, even sweet locally farmed ‘America’ oysters, but the real treat were the dozen strongly flavored wild Belon. Forgoing the typical compliment of Muscadet, or Chablis, I selected something more appropriate for the season. After all, in Maine, winter is the best season for oysters; so why should we drink summer wine? Receipt for the oysters My wife Kristyn and I were on the Peljesac Peninsula in Southern Croatia a … Continue reading Shucking Plavac

A Day at the Beach with Luka Krajančić

Luka Krajančić reciting one of his own poems. On the road on the Island of Korčula. These images were captured during our visit to the Island of Korčula this past summer. What was originally a tasting appointment with Pošip specialist Luka Krajančić turned into one of the greatest experiences of wine I have ever had. We met Luka at his tightly packed but spotless winery in the tiny coastal village where he lives. This was the first time I had met Luka. He is a big man but also very gentle, even shy. When we arrived a couple was already there tasting. One was a photographer without a camera and the other a young restaurateur who had just moved to the island. Our new friends were happy to start the tasting over. A happy tasting group. The range of Krajančić’s Pošip redefined the varietal to me. They were the deepest, most powerful and yet most elegant examples I had tasted. Each one was different, but always reflective of the site, the vintage and Luka’s perspective. At the end he pulled out a sample of a 1 barrel production from an old patch of red Plavac vines, very rare on this … Continue reading A Day at the Beach with Luka Krajančić

Friends, Adventure and a lot of good Wine…

Franci Cvetko serving his full line-up at Kogl winery. Formally suited we hit the ground running on our latest work trip to Central Europe. We spent 12 days split between Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary. The night of our arrival was the kick-off Gala Dinner for the Zagreb Wine Gourmet Festival held in the capital’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Hosting over 140 wineries it is the largest tasting of Croatia’s wines all year. Attendees ranged from top politicians like President Ivo Josipovic to France’s father of biodynamic farming Nicolas Joly. The fair itself was a frenzy of trade and consumers out of their minds to taste everything Croatian. We went in with high expectations but still the number of excellent wines was shocking. There is a growing self awareness among producers that indigenous grape varieties made in local styles are Croatia’s great strength. This coupled with the rapid increases in quality is yielding the most transparent views of Croatia’s complex terroir yet seen. To watch this unfold is inexplicable. Despite the crowd, between tastings we were able to finalize most of our spring shipment. Both days we tasted until the lights flashed and our mouths hurt. After the tasting we managed … Continue reading Friends, Adventure and a lot of good Wine…

LOU on Vine: Gastronomic Culture both Foreign and Domestic

Lou loves 3 Liter Batič. One of our early supporters, Lou Amdur of LOU on Vine has always been one of my favorite people to work with. His love of wine and food extends far beyond his sensitive nose, palate. Tasting with Lou is more history, science, farming and people than strawberries and tannins. As a space LOU is intimate, slightly psychedelic and smells good, it attracts a whole host of interesting food and wine affiliated individuals oftentimes to dine and sometimes to host events. Coincidentally “A Feast for Ed Behr” editor of “The Art of Eating” was to be held the same day as our follow up tasting of all of the Croatian samples from our trip this summer with our partners Empty Glass. All of us really wanted to go to the Ed Behr dinner; the guy is kind of a legend. Thankfully Lou offered to let us hold the tasting there before hand so that we could. In 3 hours we tasted 60 wines that ranged from international varietals produced in a global style to obscurities like the white grape Gegic. Lou tasted most everything and at the same time readied the restaurant for the dinner, wrote … Continue reading LOU on Vine: Gastronomic Culture both Foreign and Domestic