We have been pretty busy at Blue Danube Wine this spring. Several weeks ago, we were featured at Google’s Wine Wednesday, a biweekly tasting event organized by the Google wine club. To help the chefs of the hosting cafe prepare tidbits that could be paired with each wine, we had brought some wine samples to them ahead of time. We anticipated that few Googlers would be familiar with Central-Eastern European wines so we chose the following selection of wines from Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, and Croatia, showcasing some of the best wines currently produced along the Danube river and the Dalmatian coast: 2010 Sommer Bergweingarten M Grüner Veltliner: founded in 1698, the Sommer Winery is now run by winemaker and Grüner Veltliner specialist Leo Sommer and his wife Silvane. The estate is located in the Neusiedlersee-Hügelland region near Lake Neusiedl in eastern Austria. The wine was dry, crisp, mineral with a good structure on the palate. The chefs chose to pair it with a creamy Morel and Aspargus Risotto. 2009 Kabaj Ravan: Kabaj Winery is owned and run by French-born winemaker Jean-Michel Morel and his wine Katja Kabaj. It is located in Goriška Brda in Western Slovenia, an appellation known as … Continue reading Blue Danube Tasting at Google
The Great GoogaMooga is coming to Brooklyn this weekend. GoogaMooga is a music festival in historic Prospect Park with a spotlight on the food and the wine. A feast of elevated street food will be served, including foie gras doughnuts, dirty duck dogs, and pork-belly-shawarma tacos. Blue Danube will be there with our special guests Ildikó Eszterbauer from the Eszterbauer winery in Szekszard and her fiancé and vineyard manager Miklós Klein. We’ll be serving a selection of Eszterbauer wines as well as our Croatian best sellers, the BIBICh R6 Riserva and Dingač Pelješac. The Črnko Jareninčan, a juicy 1 Liter blend of Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, will be our “housewine” for the event. 2011 Eszterbauer Chardonnay 2011 Eszterbauer Öröm Rosé 2009 Eszterbauer Kadarka Nagyapám 2008 Eszterbauer Tüke Bikavér 2009 BIBICh R6 Riserva 2010 Dingač Pelješac 2010 Črnko Jareninčan
New York chef Anthony Bourdain‘s latest No Reservations episode featuring the Croatian Coast was recently aired on the TRAVEL channel and since then, the office phone has been ringing off the hook. During his visit to Skradin, Bourdain met Alen Bibich of the Bibich Winery and his family, and really enjoyed the wines from the Bibich cellar. Meanwhile, the 2009 Bibich R6 Riserva arrives from Croatia ‘Just-In-Time’ this month!
The big freeze that hit Europe last February delayed most of our wine shipments but thanks to warmer weather conditions, our containers are on their way to California and New York. Shipping wine in the winter months is in fact hazardous as it can expose the wine to extreme temperatures, which may cause it to freeze (wine freezes between 15-23 degrees F) and alter its character. Our Eszterbauer shipment just arrived in Vienna from Szekszard: The new 2011 Eszterbauer Kadarka Nagyapam: One of our container was recently in the Port of Ploče on the Adriatic Sea coast, with wines from BIBICh, Miloš, and Dingač: From Slovenia, we have new wines from Batič, Kabaj, and Kogl: And some of our new releases are already available online: From Croatia: 2009 BIBICh R6 Riserva $18.95 A roughly equal blend of native red varieties Babich, Plavina, and Lasin aged 12 months in new American oak, this wine is exceptionally food friendly and will pair with anything from goat cheese to smoked meats. 2010 Dingač Plavac $12.95 Plavac Mali grape translates to “Little Blue” grape. This grape is usually simply called “Plavac” and is the cousin of the Californian Zinfandel. It is a fairly rustic … Continue reading New vintages of our popular wines on their way
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.
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
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.
The start of an email correspondence. I remember Miha Batič, one of our Slovenian producers, telling me that his Great-Grandfather was Austrian, his Grandfather was Italian, his Father Yugoslavian, and now he is Slovenian. They’ve been working the same land and living in the same house since 1592. While borders and nationalities change, the vineyards have remained the same. To this end, Italian and Slovenian producers are in the process of creating the first ever Trans-Border DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) that celebrates the Carso (Italian) or Karst (Slovenian) region. For instance, there are already joint community initiatives such as Scenarios and Flavours from the Karst Plateau without Frontiers based in Trieste that functions much like a “Doctors Without Borders” for food and wine. Concerning wine, they focus on the grape called “Terrano” (Italian) or “Teran” (Croatian and Slovenian) coupled with the iron rich “Terra Rossa” (red earth) unique to the region. These are red wines with off the charts acidity, enough minerality to meet a healthy diets monthly quota, and often a slightly tangy wild berry flavor that make it an incredible wine of place. It’s a killer with Prosciutto. With this in mind, I’ve had many buyers admit … Continue reading Wine Without Frontiers
Hosts Hasim, Seni, and Gino at Bistro SF Grill. San Francisco has recently added a very vivid food destination and we are happy to be part of it with our wines: Bistro SF Grill. This is a gourmet burger restaurant owned and managed by three multi-talented friends hailing from Bosnia-Herzegovina: Hasim, Seni, and Gino. We sometimes jokingly call them the ‘Balkan Trio’. The line-up. In a short couple of months the trio has managed to put their ‘almost famous’ burgers on top of the heap. This is not your ordinary burger joint where the choices are between American or Swiss cheese. At Bistro SF Grill they serve only the finest beef some of it as exotic as Alligator, Buffalo, and Ostrich. Then there is a Lamb Burger and another made from organically fed Kobe beef. I tried most of them and my favorite is the Balkan Burger, made from a mix of lamb and beef with savory spices. Our wines from Balkan countries like Slovenia and Croatia pair beautifully with these burgers. For instance, try the Donkey Dingac or the Bibich Riserva R6 with a Balkan burger and you will agree that the wine will make the flavors jump. The … Continue reading Bistro SF Grill Rocks
The Donkey Plavac & Milos Plavac: two typical Dalmatian wines. Like many people present at last week’s Croatian wine festivities, I was unfamiliar with Croatian culture. Sure I’ve eaten cevapcici and even made ajvar recently, but I do not come from there, nor does my family, and before Croatian wine entered my life I knew only one Croatian, philosopher Daniel Kolak. I was excited for the first ever Grand Croatian tasting, having tasted a handful of their local wines, and being particularly intrigued by a former vintage of Dingac Winery’s Peljesac, or ‘The Donkey Wine’ in some circles. I knew that the variety had alluring aromas of flowers and herbs, an elegant translucence, and beguiling sense of fruit. Still I was not prepared for the diversity and terroir-specificity this grape offers. The Big 3 Plavac. The grape most commonly linked with Plavac Mali is Zinfandel, which originates in Croatia and is a relative of Plavac. I typically describe the wines as exhibiting the deep, dark fruited spiciness of Zinfandel, with the old-world body of Gamay. The grapes and wines are surely related, though each with a very distinct personality. Between the Hudson Terrace grand tasting and consumer event put on … Continue reading PLAVAC MALI: An Outsiders Wine From An Outsiders Perspective