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

The Terroir Meter

Can you taste terroir? In their Fall 2012 special issue, Wine & Spirits Magazine introduces the Terroir Top 100, 100 wines that “rocked our critics over the last 12 months, wines that transport us to another place: These 100 terroir-expressive selections make us believe that the earth, the sun, the wind and the rain are present in the glass, their combination distinctive and delicious.” The only Croatian wine in the TOP 100 is our Intrada Pošip by Krajančić. Čestitam, Luka! Krajančić 2009 Korčula Intrada Pošip: Terroir score 6.2, 90 points “Korcula is basically a sun-drenched, 100-square mile chunk of karst off the coast of Croatia. The climate is Mediterranean, and water is scarce, as it drains right through the limestone. Tasting Luca Krajancic’s Intrada, it tastes as through its pošip vines must have developed a taste for seawater in self-defense, it is so mouth-wateringly saline, with a sunny, fresh orange marmelade flavor to balance. There is no need to be familiar with the Dalmatian Coast to “get” this wine: it’s the sort of wine that immediately brings to mind seaside vacations and seafood in tis flavors and feel.”

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

Blue Danube Tasting at Google

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

Get ready for GoogaMooga!!!

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 visits Bibich

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 Bibić 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!

New vintages of our popular wines on their way

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

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

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.