JURIS wine tasting with the Stiegelmars

Last week, we enjoyed the visit of Axel and Herta Stiegelmar, the charming owners of Juris Winery, who participated in a series of promotional events in San Francisco and Los Angeles. In San Francisco, they were featured at Portfolio, our annual tradeshow located this year at the San Francisco Old Mint, pouring their Pinot Noir and St. Laurent wines non-stop from 11:00am to 3:00pm. Juris is a family estate in Gols, Burgenland, run by the Stiegelmar family since the late 1500’s. After acquiring practical experience in Germany, Bordeaux and California, Axel Stiegelmar is now considered a Pinot Noir and St. Laurent specialist, producing wines of character and style with aging potential. Pinot Noir and St. Laurent are two difficult and fussy grape varieties that have actually many common characteristics. Pinot noir was most likely brought to Austria in the late 14th Century by Cistercian monks from the Order’s motherhouse in Burgundy. It grows well in the mild climate regions of Burgenland and Thermenregion (Lower Austria) and is recently gaining more importance in the country (1.4% of the plantings in 2009, up from about 0.8% in 1999). The origins of St. Laurent are mysterious but thanks to genetic testing, it is … Continue reading JURIS wine tasting with the Stiegelmars

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.

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