#WineWednesday Spotlight #153: Monastery Tvrdoš Vranac

“How could we not offer this wine,” asks David Lynch, Sommelier & Editorial Director at SommSelect. “Tasting this 2015 Vranac, I’m reminded of some of the brisk and deeply hued reds of Italy/Slovenia’s Carso/Kras region, and of Austrian Blaufränkisch as well. Aged for two years in those ancient wood barrels, the 2015 Tvrdoš Vranac is a nearly opaque ruby-black in the glass, with garnet reflections. The nose is powerful and perfumed, leading with notes of crushed blackberry, cranberry, wet rose petals, dark chocolate, cedar, and exotic spice notes galore. It is deep, rich, and tangy up front then buttons up into something tangy and refreshing, with lots of floral notes on the finish. It benefits from 30+ minutes in a decanter before service, as well as a cooler temperature (60 degrees) to accentuate its fruit character and moderate its acidity. Characteristic of the 2015 vintage all over Europe, this is plenty ripe and accessible now, and is most definitely a “food wine” as opposed to a “cocktail wine.” I’d say go whole hog and do an ultra-authentic “Bosnian Pot” (Bosanski Lonac) to go with it. The melding of flavors will not only be classic but spot-on. “I’ve said it many … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #153: Monastery Tvrdoš Vranac

#WineWednesday Spotlight #146: Brkić Greda

Wine blogger Nancy Brazil over at Pull That Cork loves to try new things and recently discovered the 2015 Brkić Greda Žilavka, a wine from a grape variety and a wine region she was not familiar with: This wine caught our attention immediately with its deep golden color and unfamiliar, complex aromas and flavors. It made me think, in a way, of aged Chardonnay. But different. We discussed this wine for quite some time after first tasting it. By luck, she found the perfect pairing for the wine, a new mushroom pasta recipe from Wine Enthusiast Magazine: The mushroom, umami flavors and brown butter were a perfect match for similar flavors in the wine. We had no idea what this wine would taste like, so it was just dumb luck that this pairing worked so well. I had to laugh when, as I sat down to write this cellar note, I read the importer’s food suggestion: brown butter mushrooms or soy sauce. Read the whole blog post here. Using biodynamic practices, Josip Brkić makes magical wines using the native, enduring Žilavka (“zilav” means “tough” in slavic languages). That’s a grape that has adapted to the scorched rocky soils of the … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #146: Brkić Greda

#WineWednesday Spotlight #137: Monastery Tvrdoš Vranac

The Serbian Orthodox Monastery Tvrdoš is located in southeastern Herzegovina, 2.5 miles west of the old town of Trebinje and less than 20 miles from the Adriatic Sea. Dedicated to The Dominion of the Mother of God, it was built in the late 13th century above the right bank of the Trebisnica river on the foundations of a 4th century Roman church. The region’s wine­growing tradition dates back to the first hellenic colonies on the Adriatic Coast. The climate is sub­mediterranean with hot summers and mild winters. The Herzegovinian karst soil is shallow, mixed with white crushed stones. These warm and dry conditions are particularly well suited to the native grape varieties Žilavka and Vranac. Vranac was introduced to South Herzegovina during the Austro­Hungarian Empire. The name “Vranac”, which means “black horse”, highlights the grape’s dark color as well as its strength and power. When grown on the rocky grounds of Tvrdoš created by a washout of the soil from the surrounding hills, Vranac shows distinctive acids and intense fruity aromas. Aged for 24 months in old monastic oak barrels, the Monastery Tvrdoš Vranac exhibits a purple red color and savory, earthy aromas on the nose. The palate has a … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #137: Monastery Tvrdoš Vranac

Balkan Wine Box

As you drive up and down the Croatian coast and up into the Karst ridden hinterlands of Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is one constant smell: the combination of herbs and rocks. What “Garrigue” is to the French, “Friškina” is to the Balkans – herbs, rocks and salt baking under the sun. It’s also oddly refreshing. Maybe it’s the ocean air, and maybe it’s the super counterintuitive acidity of the wines and olive oils. Whatever it is, very few smells trigger our olfactory memory so violently. We want Brudet (fish stew), Crni Rižoto (squid ink risotto), octopus cooked under “Peka,” Palačinka (crepes) filled with small fish, and everything bathed in Dalmatian olive oil. Focusing on the Dalmatian coast with a quick jump into Bosnia and Herzegovina (Istrian and Slavonian wines arrive in June), please consider these wines as ideal lubricates for our transition into Spring. Starting on the Island of Korčula off the Southern Dalmatian Coast, three new Pošips from Frano Banicević’s Toreta winery. Pošip is a white grape that can muster a ton of acidity and alcohol if left unchecked. Farmed well on the windy island it can produce salty, aromatic and lively wines. From stainless steel to acacia fermented, … Continue reading Balkan Wine Box

#WineWednesday Spotlight #134: Brkić Plava Greda

We are looking forward to our new Dalmatian container, which is coming at the end of the month. It contains a restock of Brkić Plava Greda 2015, a wine that was just reviewed by wine blogger Nenad Trifunović, founder of the leading Croatian wine blog Dnevnik Vinopije (Diary of the Wine-Drinker): At first, there is a complete lack of common fruit sensations. The fruitful youth is peppermint, almost like a puffy Schioppettina … and completely earthy…Fully dry and succulent at 12.10% alc, more expressive and more durable than any other Blatina. I do not want to mention quality anymore compared to quantity … I want to talk about the beauty of the extract. Uncompromising as the words on the label: I will make wines like this or I will not make them at all. We’re thrilled to get more wines from Bosnia Herzegovina and Dalmatia so stay tuned and check our webshop later this month for new wines from BIBICh, Brkić, Dubrovački Podrumi, Gracin, Miloš, Monastery Tvrdos and Toreta.

#WineWednesday Spotlight #121: Brkić Mjesečar

Every year, wine professional Pamela Busch makes a list of the most memorable wines she had over the past 12 months. One of them is the Brkić Mjesečar: I’d wanted to try these wines for a while and finally had the opportunity at a Blue Danube Wine tasting over the summer. Josip Brkić is, from what I’ve heard, the only natural winemaker in Bosnia Herzegovina. Using biodynamic practices and indigenous grapes, he’s making very pure and effusive wines and Mjesecar, a skin-fermented white wine made from Zilavka, is exceptional. You can read more about it here. I hope his efforts will inspire other growers in BH to go down a more natural path. This year I’ve had a number of wines from the Balkans that have been on par with great wines from the rest of the continent, and hope this is just a glimpse of what the future holds. The former Yugoslav countries went through a horrendous period in the 90’s, and if the winemaking is one sign that things continue to improve for people in this part of the world, I’ll drink to that. Mjesečar means the Moon Walker in Bosnian and it is Josip’s first wine made … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #121: Brkić Mjesečar

#WineWednesday Spotlight #103: Brkić Greda

Today is a contribution by Bosnian wine educator and consultant Aleksandar Draganić over at Grape Nomad. The Brkić Greda is one of these wines that Will Make You Fall in Love with Žilavka Immediately: A deep golden yellow in the glass, reminiscent of that tree sap you liked to poke your fingers into when you were a kid. I love the authenticity this wine has year in year out – maturing in Bosnian oak, with fine lees aging to get its creamy texture and scrumptious notes of dried apricot, vanilla biscuits, ripe pear and quince. Infinite aftertaste, medium body and without a glamorous drinking window, but still something to taste if you want to remember this grape. For Josip Brkić, who organically farms the white Žilavka and red Blatina in Čitluk in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina, the vineyard is a special place. It’s a place of dedication, a place that demands respect, attention, love, knowledge and passionate work. And his wines reflect his vision and dedication. Check Josip Brkić’s amazing wines on our webshop.

No Escape from Balkan

After a long hiatus, new Balkan wines from Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia & Herzegovina are finally here the second week of July. After looking over previous trip photos, putting together a fairly impressive Balkan playlist (currently listening to Dubioza Kolektiv), cooking some homemade Burek, and adding Ajvar to my morning eggs, I started to realize how much I missed these wines. The combination of salty, herby, oxidatively alive and zero to full tannins that both go with seafood sets these wines apart. We’ve even added some sparkling, sweet, Amfora, and some wines with 10+ years of age on them for good measure. Štoka Family Starting near the Italian and Croatian border in Slovenia, the Štoka family has been farming for over 200 years. The reds are sanguine, high acid, seemingly Marasca cherry infused and pungent despite being low in alcohol. They make you want rare meat, charcuterie and basically anything cured or pickled. If you over do it, please consider making some “Istarska Supa.” Moreno Coronica Directly south on western coast of Istria near the town of Umag is the Coronica winery. Moreno’s grandfather was Austro-Hungarian, his father was Italian, he was Yugoslavian, and now his children are Croatian. It’s … Continue reading No Escape from Balkan

The Wines and Revelations of Josip Brkic – A Visit to Brkic Winery in Bosnia & Herzegovina

Another contribution from our friend Marcy Gordon. Marcy is a freelance travel writer, who publishes in a variety of publications, and the Forbes Travel Guide Corespondent for Napa and Sonoma. In April, Marcy joined the Blue Danube Wine team for two weeks in Dalmatia, Croatia. ROAD TRIP SERIES: CROATIA/BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA Of course almost all winemakers are highly passionate about their craft no matter where they are from. But I found the people I met in Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina were deeply vested in their land and wines in an almost spiritual way. One of our first visits was to Brkic Winery in Citluk – Bosnia & Herzegovina. Josip Brkic is a shining example of a winemaker whose wines embody a philosophy that goes beyond mere passion for wine making. It’s a philosophy of life as well. The vineyards, grapes and wines are regarded as members of the family. We sat down to taste several of the Brkic wines and listen to Josip tell his story. Fifteen years ago Josip Brkic had an epiphany and it changed the course of his life and the trajectory of his wine making. While exhibiting at an Italian wine expo he learned about biodynamic … Continue reading The Wines and Revelations of Josip Brkic – A Visit to Brkic Winery in Bosnia & Herzegovina

#WineWednesday Spotlight #26: Brkić Žilavka

Contributed by Michael W. Trainor aka @awordtothewine on Instagram and Twitter. Michael is a “high energy guitar playing glorified wino with an intense curiosity and passion for all living things” based in Los Angeles. Be sure to follow him! I must confess. I’m having a love affair with Blue Danube Wine. I’m starting to believe they import wine specifically for my pleasure. This was indeed my first date with a wine from Bosnia Herzegovina. The 2014 Brkić Čitlučka Žilavka is a beautiful and unique white wine. The grape is Žilavka, simply pronounced (zhee-lav-ka). So much charm, so much heart, so much beauty, unique characteristics, and so many layers of flavors. A wine made with love and harmony. Organic farming, spontaneous fermentation, aged on its lees, and bottled unfiltered. Perfect. Maybe this should be the only way wines are made. Learn more about the Brkić winery here.