Its Dungeness crab season, its Grüner Veltliner season

One reason I love the holidays is that they mark the beginning of the Dungeness crab season. This tasty treat is harvested from mid November to the end of June, along the Pacific coast from Santa Barbara to as far as the Aleutian Islands in the Bering Sea. Being simply cooked in boiling water, its meat is sweet, tender, and slightly nutty. It is, I think, my favorite crustacean and the way I like it best is with just a squeeze of lemon, some bread and butter, and a glass of dry, mineral-driven, white wine. So the other day, we ate our first crab of the year with some delicious 2010 Geyerhof Grüner Veltliner Rosensteig. Grüner Veltliner is Austria’s national grape, accounting for more than 30 percent of the country’s vineyards and it is at its best along the Danube river were it grows in terraced vineyards on slopes so steep they can barely retain the soil, producing mineral-driven wines that can age well. The Geyerhof winery is situated on the southern slopes of the Danube Valley east of Krems. The owners, Josef and Ilse Maier, have 15 hectares of dry-farmed vineyards on loess, sand and tertiary gravel soils and … Continue reading Its Dungeness crab season, its Grüner Veltliner season

Our Top 5 Wines in 2011

This afternoon I got a call from our friend and wine brother, Luis Moya of Vinos Unico. Luis had another one of his many – often very good – marketing ideas. He was just about to post their Top 5 Wines for 2011 on the Vinos Unico web site. Luis wanted to convince me to do the same and later we would together with our colleagues from Return to Terroir selected and market the Top 5 wines of the famous in-famous #Port4lio group. I told Luis that this is a great idea but that we are already overworked and overcommitted. If you know Luis you know that he does not give up and never sleeps, so two hours later I see a tweet in which Luis asks us to put some effort into this project and to publish our Top 5 on our web site. So here they are: No 1: Donkey Peljesac, Plavac Mali, Vinarija Dingac, Peljesac Peninsula 2010No 2: Geyerhof: Gruner Veltliner Rosensteig, Kremstal 2009No 3: Bibich, B6 Riserva, Northern Dalmatia 2008No 4: Eszterbauer Kadarka, Szekszard 2009No 5: Kabaj Rebula, Goriska Brda 2008 Cheers, and Thank You for your support.

Invite Austria to your Thanksgiving table

Finding the perfect wine that can go with all the rich flavors found on the Thanksgiving menu, the turkey, the stuffing, the gravy, the cranberries, and the various side dishes, can be challenging. Nonetheless, I think that a wine that is bright and fruity, and not too tannic nor alcoholic, is always a great choice. So when I recently tasted the 2009 Juris St. Laurent Selection, I thought that this year, it was time to invite Austria to our Thanksgiving table. Owned by the Stiegelmar family, Juris farms 17 hectares of vineyards in the Neusiedlersee wine region, half way between Vienna and Budapest. This is the warmest part of Austria with climatic conditions well suited to red varieties, which explains the winery’s special focus on St Laurent and Pinot Noir wines. The Stiegelmar family has been cultivating grapes in this area since the 16th century. One of the winery’s underground cellars was built in 1756, Mozart’s birth year. It was dug 52 meters long, 12 meters below the surface, and maintains a stable temperature of 10°C (50°F). The underground cellars. But over the past 10 years, Axel Stiegelmar and his father Georg have developed a modern winery. The transport of … Continue reading Invite Austria to your Thanksgiving table

Blue Danube Visits VieVinum 2010

our travel group: Jeff (A Cote, Oakland), Frank & Stetson (BDW), Santos (Bacaro LA), Pamela (CAV, San Francisco). For three days every other year, a wing of the Hofburg imperial palace in Vienna turns into the national wine cellar, as hundreds of Austrian wine producers (and some from other lands) come to pour their wines for an international gathering of trade, press, and colleagues. A small group of five supporters of Blue Danube Wine and specifically of Austrian wine was there to investigate. It is difficult to imagine the Habsburgs roaming these rooms, now that they are lined with tables and packed with people talking of Grüner Veltliner and Blaufränkisch, the merits of screwcap closures, and the conditions of the 2009 vintage. There are so many attractions that one needs to plan carefully to absorb as much as possible, even in three days. The rooms are mapped to a regional theme, making it easy to taste as many Wachau whites as possible, then slip into Wagram and try to identify general differences. One can plan a journey from table to table in Burgenland, tasting only wines from the St. Laurent grape, or try to define the characters of the two … Continue reading Blue Danube Visits VieVinum 2010

Tasting with the (Wein) Rieder Family

Fritz Rieder in his beloved Schneiderberg. This afternoon, our local friends, Andrea and Thomas, picked us up and escorted us to the Weinrieder Estate located in the center of the Weinviertel region west of Poysdorf in Kleinhadersdorf. For Andrea and Thomas, it was not their first trip to meet the Rieder’s and their excitement to see them again was contagious. Naturally, I was so excited since I have been selling their wines for a bit over a year and never visited. However, when the excitement comes from locals, you cannot help but feel like you are really onto something special! The Tasting Group: Fritz, Kristyn, Stetson, Thomas, Andrea, und Hund. As soon as we arrived, Melanie Rieder gently hurried us into the cozy little tasting room just off to the side of their very green backyard. The yard was modest, but appeared as if it were designed to entertain. Tasting with Friedrich Rieder is an experience in itself. He speaks, in German, about his wines with boisterous honest enthusiasm. Andrea translated for us. She was fast to translate, but he was faster. Ultimately language proved to be no obstacle. Friedrich loves to present his wines and is totally at home … Continue reading Tasting with the (Wein) Rieder Family

Whirlwind Tour of Juris Winery

Juris Vineyard’s Grapevines & Soil The Juris Winery TourA visit to this winery started with a tour of the vineyards. Axel Stiegelmar of Weingut Juris, took us on a whirlwind tour of his vineyards. We had the pleasure of sampling his Pinot Noir and St. Laurent grape varietals. It was great to taste the grapes off the vine and you can really taste the difference between the two varietals before they become wine. Juris Vineyard Soil The Juris Vineyard is located on a raised plateau of pebbles and loam. This dry farmed vineyard produces small amounts of flavor packed grapes. Also, they utilize cover crop and no herbicides in any of their vineyards. If weeds become excessive, they plow to eliminate them and then spread straw down the rows and under the vines to prevent water loss from the constant drying winds. Notice the double stalked vines in the photo above? This is their clever way of increasing plant density in the vineyard while keeping it easy to farm. The double stalked vines are actually two plants right next to each other. This method was first implemented by Axel’s father, Georg Steigelmar, who continues to influence Axel. After tasting the … Continue reading Whirlwind Tour of Juris Winery

Stetson & Kristyn Do the Danube

Stetson and Krystin in Vienna, Austria We’re on a journey through the wine regions of Austria, Slovenia and Croatia. We’re here in Austria right now and we have a lot to say (maybe too much), but not enough time to say it. So, enjoy watching our video describing what we’ve learned and found so far on our wine adventure. –Stetson and Kristyn

Touchdown in Austria!

Axel Stieglmar, Weingut Juris, measuring the ripeness of the grapes (brix) with a refractometer Axel Stiegelmar of Weingut Juris promptly greeted us at the airport and whisked us away to his vineyards in Gols, near Lake Neusiedlersee in Burgenland Austria. Literally, our first stop was this vineyard. Here he checks the sugar on his St. Laurent with refractometer. Everything is looking pretty good for the 2009 vintage! Barrel Tasting After getting a great tour of his expanding vineyard holdings we explored the winery, did a bit of barrel and new release tasting, and then had an amazing lunch at Restaurant Alain Weissgerberg. It was a genuine pleasure to share this afternoon at such a fabulous restaurant with Axel and his wife Herta. They truly love food, wine, and the sharing of both. Axel even opened a bottle of Tricata, his Amarone style Blaufränkisch. It’s an unusual approach to an unusual grape but one that surprisingly works. This wine flaunted its incredible range as it opened up. Come the holidays, this would be an absolute show stopper of a wine! –Stetson and Kristyn

Preparation for Wine Adventure

We are about to enjoy a night of burgundy and food before we head off to Austria, Slovenia and Croatia. Our bags are packed and ready to go. I doubt we will be sleeping tonight, but that it is what the flight is for! We will try our best to blog about our journey daily, but if you don’t hear from us…squawk! A very special thanks to Frank and Zsuzsa of Blue Danube Wine Company who have made this trip possible. Words cannot describe how much we appreciate it. –Stetson and Kristyn

Weinrieder Extreme

Invitation to a tasting at the Weinrieder estate. Weinrieder has done it again! The Wine Enthusiast selected the Weinrieder Grüner Veltliner Alte Reben 2006 as the Editor’s Choice of the new Austrian vintage and awarded it 92 points. They also liked his Kugler Riesling 2007 with 91 points and even gave his great value wine, the Weinrieder Grüner Veltliner DAC respectable 86 points. Not bad for a wine that costs less than $15. Visit our online shop now and buy them before they are gone. Also very noteworthy, the terrific Eisweins (icewines) Weinrieder produces. If you had never tasted this specialty wine before we definitely encourage you to do so now with hisRiesling Eiswein from the Schneiderberg vineyard in Poysdorf just north of the capital Vienna. You are in for a special treat and an explosion of tropical fruit on your palate. On par with the ice wines from top Canadian producers like Inniskillin and Jackson-Triggs but much more refined and with an elegant lightness. Plus, the Weinrieder Eisweins cost a fraction less than their Canadian or German rivals.