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.

Wine Without Frontiers

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

Bistro SF Grill Rocks

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

PLAVAC MALI: An Outsiders Wine From An Outsiders Perspective

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

A Day at the Beach with Luka Krajančić

Luka Krajančić reciting one of his own poems. On the road on the Island of Korčula. These images were captured during our visit to the Island of Korčula this past summer. What was originally a tasting appointment with Pošip specialist Luka Krajančić turned into one of the greatest experiences of wine I have ever had. We met Luka at his tightly packed but spotless winery in the tiny coastal village where he lives. This was the first time I had met Luka. He is a big man but also very gentle, even shy. When we arrived a couple was already there tasting. One was a photographer without a camera and the other a young restaurateur who had just moved to the island. Our new friends were happy to start the tasting over. A happy tasting group. The range of Krajančić’s Pošip redefined the varietal to me. They were the deepest, most powerful and yet most elegant examples I had tasted. Each one was different, but always reflective of the site, the vintage and Luka’s perspective. At the end he pulled out a sample of a 1 barrel production from an old patch of red Plavac vines, very rare on this … Continue reading A Day at the Beach with Luka Krajančić

Friends, Adventure and a lot of good Wine…

Franci Cvetko serving his full line-up at Kogl winery. Formally suited we hit the ground running on our latest work trip to Central Europe. We spent 12 days split between Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary. The night of our arrival was the kick-off Gala Dinner for the Zagreb Wine Gourmet Festival held in the capital’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Hosting over 140 wineries it is the largest tasting of Croatia’s wines all year. Attendees ranged from top politicians like President Ivo Josipovic to France’s father of biodynamic farming Nicolas Joly. The fair itself was a frenzy of trade and consumers out of their minds to taste everything Croatian. We went in with high expectations but still the number of excellent wines was shocking. There is a growing self awareness among producers that indigenous grape varieties made in local styles are Croatia’s great strength. This coupled with the rapid increases in quality is yielding the most transparent views of Croatia’s complex terroir yet seen. To watch this unfold is inexplicable. Despite the crowd, between tastings we were able to finalize most of our spring shipment. Both days we tasted until the lights flashed and our mouths hurt. After the tasting we managed … Continue reading Friends, Adventure and a lot of good Wine…

LOU on Vine: Gastronomic Culture both Foreign and Domestic

Lou loves 3 Liter Batič. One of our early supporters, Lou Amdur of LOU on Vine has always been one of my favorite people to work with. His love of wine and food extends far beyond his sensitive nose, palate. Tasting with Lou is more history, science, farming and people than strawberries and tannins. As a space LOU is intimate, slightly psychedelic and smells good, it attracts a whole host of interesting food and wine affiliated individuals oftentimes to dine and sometimes to host events. Coincidentally “A Feast for Ed Behr” editor of “The Art of Eating” was to be held the same day as our follow up tasting of all of the Croatian samples from our trip this summer with our partners Empty Glass. All of us really wanted to go to the Ed Behr dinner; the guy is kind of a legend. Thankfully Lou offered to let us hold the tasting there before hand so that we could. In 3 hours we tasted 60 wines that ranged from international varietals produced in a global style to obscurities like the white grape Gegic. Lou tasted most everything and at the same time readied the restaurant for the dinner, wrote … Continue reading LOU on Vine: Gastronomic Culture both Foreign and Domestic

Coronica: Full Circle

Moreno Coronica in his vineyard with the typical Istrian Terra Rosso. We have just gotten back from the Blue Danube company trip to Hungary, and there are so many highlights to share. However, this must be postponed because of the 2008 Coronica Istrian Malvazija from Istria, Croatia. Why? The reason is the season. Let me explain. Istrian Malvazija is primarily grown in Slovenia and parts of northern Italy but is most at home on the large Croatian peninsula of Istria at the north end of the Adriatic where Croatia, Slovenia and Italy meet. Wines from this grape vary greatly in style. Many are made in a fresh, reductive form, akin to the commercial white wines of New Zealand, pleasant but undistinguished. Others are macerated, or made like red wine where the skins are left with the juice during fermentation, resulting in deeply colored, even orange wines with red wine structure, tannin and all. Quality varies radically among wines of this already challenging-to-appreciate style. When bad they can be undrinkable, but the best examples are unforgettably good. In July 2009 we tasted the 2007 Coronica Malvasia during a tasting of potential imports. We all immediately noticed that there was more to … Continue reading Coronica: Full Circle

Recent Breakthrough: Cabernet Sauvignon goes with lobster

a great combo: lobster with Batic Cabernet Sauvignon Rose & Enjingi Grasevina. Most of my Christmas’ are spent in Maine at my parents. Their house is on an island in the Atlantic, just off the coast. Winters are both beautiful and brutal. No matter how cold the wind, or rough the seas the seafood remains ridiculously fresh. This year brought a special surprise; soft shell lobster. These freshly molted “bugs” are the unquestionable pinnacle of the lobster world; super sweet and tender. You wont find them far from where they are caught as they are much more vulnerable, to even gentle travel, than there hard shelled brethren. There is no reason to get fancy with them. In fact you can faintly read “steam only, serve with butter” On some of their shells. So what do you drink with succulent lobster in this arctic cold? Big Chard is the standard prescription but we have forced this for years, unless you are drinking properly aged top tier Burgundy the pairing rarely works. So Cabernet of course! The pairing logic: In a form this naked, lobster is best complemented by a soft, full bodied wine. We started with a decent feline scented Sauvignon … Continue reading Recent Breakthrough: Cabernet Sauvignon goes with lobster

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