15 wines is a lot to get through without losing you after this sentence. However, there is a salty, tart, and often nutty line that connects them all from the Bay of Trieste down to Southern Dalmatia. These are our table wines for the summer. For the past few years, we’ve brought the Martinčič Cviček liter in from Dolenjsko (in between Zagreb and Ljubljana in Slovenia). This tongue-twisting blend of red and white grapes must be between 8.5-10% alcohol and dry by law. Now we are finally adding two more liters to round things out – the 2016 Modra Frankinja (Blaufränkisch) and 2016 Modri Pinot Rosé (Pinot Noir). They are both around 11-11.5% alcohol, incredibly low in SO2, and are impossibly fresh and full of character. Chill all three down and let them come up at the table. Roughly 2 hours West and a bit south by car and you hit Istria (Istra in Slovenia). Dominated by Malvasia Istarska, Teran and Refošk, the diversity by soil and proximity to the Adriatic is immense. Keeping with the liter theme, the 2016 Santomas LNG Refošk is our Dolcetto by the sea in that it satisfies the pizza/pasta needs but still lends itself … Continue reading The Tart, Salty and the Nutty from the other side of the Adriatic: Summer Wines from the Balkans
Alen Bibić presenting his white Debit A little more than a year ago, we were in Skradin, North Dalmatia, for a sumptuous multi-course tasting menu with wine pairing. The place was not a restaurant but BIBICh Winery where Chef Vesna Bibić crafts elaborate gourmet dishes carefully paired with the BIBICh wines of her husband Alen. Vesna’s food and Alen’s wines are now famous in the US since Anthony Bourdain filmed a segment of his famous show No Reservations at the winery. Smoked trout, cucumber and bean sprouts granité, tuna, black radish and spring onion, tuna marinated in squid ink with black lentils, and lovely snail on the grass. We were so lucky to experience such a meal ourselves! We started the dinner with a festive glass of BIBICh Brut paired with a smoked trout, cucumber and bean sprouts granité. Alen’s deliciously fresh Debit came with a slice of tuna on black radish topped with spring onion. I particularly loved the black tuna marinated in squid ink with black lentils. The rich, slightly briny flavors of the dish went particularly well with the complex R5 that was served with it. Skradin risotto covered with gold Another highlight of the meal was … Continue reading BIBICh’s Feast
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 Šipun Žlahtina got a good review from the August issue of The Wine Enthusiast Magazine: This wine from the island of Krk is straw-colored, with aromas of apple blossom, green apple and lemon zest. It is well weighted in the mouth, with flavors of apple and citrus blossom and a creamy finish. 88 Points Žlathina is a white grape variety native to the island of Krk and it is, with the rare Sansigot, the main focus of Šipun‘s winemaker Ivica Dobrinčić. What Ivica particularly likes about Žlathina is its difficulty in accumulating sugar. Even in very hot years, Žlahtina wines are fresh and quite low in alcohol (only 11.5% for the Šipun Žlahtina 2015 vintage). I opened a bottle of Šipun Žlahtina for our 4th of July party and it was a real crowd-pleaser. Aromatic, with honeyed and peachy aromas and low in alcohol, this is a great wine to enjoy when it’s hot outside.
Our new Dalmatian container is coming soon with brand new vintages from the Miloš winery! The Miloš family has been making full bodied Plavac from the rugged coastal vineyards of Pelješac Peninsula in for over 500 years. Today, the wines are certified organic, made with minimal intervention and totally aged worthy. Wine lover and blogger Nenad Trifunović just reviewed the Miloš Plavac 2013 on his blog Dnevnik Vinopije (Diary of the Wine-Drinker): I still feel the playful fruit, the smell of ripe grapes harvested in the vineyard. I can see the bees and wasps sticking in the air filled with smells. While in the glass, the wine gradually releases figs and roasted almonds aromas. On the palate, the wine is well balanced. Clearly, the tannins are present, rubbing the palate but also associated with beautiful fresh balsamic notes. Ready to enjoy and ready for storage. Try the new Miloš wines on our webshop
Forced French puns aside, in the 11th hour brainstorming that usually precedes a newsletter to the trade, it occurred to me — cherries! Marasca cherries, which grow up and down the Dalmatian coast (including Slovenia and Southern Hungary) became famous all over Europe once distilled into Maraschino. Most of this production eventually moved to Italy after the destruction of WWII, but famous producers like Luxardo (1821) were all founded in Croatia. Cherry festivals can also be found all over Croatia and neighboring Slovenia. Whether you’re in Istria/Slovene Istria (Piquentum, Coronica, Santomas), Goriška Brda (Kabaj), the Kras (Štoka), Dolenjska (Martinčič) or Štajerska (Črnko), cherries abound. Sour, bitter and sweet, they also play a role in the cuisine as fresh soups, desserts, added to stews, jams, syrups, etc… Granted, I know I’m not breaking new ground by attaching cherry flavors to wine. It’s less about the wines tasting like cherries (although some really do), but a similar balance between bitter, sweet and sour. Whether it’s skin contact Ravan (Friulano), Rebula (Ribolla Gialla) and Sivi Pinot (Pinot Grigio), salty barrel aged Malvasia Istriana, bloody Teran, sweet and sour Cviček, bright and aromatic white field blends, or tart Refošk, there’s a kinship at play. … Continue reading Mon Chérry…
As a follow-up to my previous post Istria, the new Tuscany, let’s enjoy a glass of Coronica Malvasia 2015. Moreno Coronica farms 75 acres of “Terra Rossa” vineyards just outside the Istrian port town of Umag, 30 miles south of Trieste, Italy. His production is roughly 75% Malvasia, 25% Teran. He vinifies his Malvasia in stainless steel with cultured yeast at controlled temperature, followed by extensive time on the lees. While the wine is fresh and mineral, the lees provides a lovely mid-palate texture and then on the finish, there’s some saltiness reminiscent of the nearby sea. As the days are now getting longer and warmer, enjoy it with some tapas on a sunny evening.
Olive tree groves, vineyard-dotted hills, truffles and medieval hilltop towns: we’re not describing Tuscany but Istria, a heart-shaped peninsula — the largest in the Adriatic Sea — located south of Trieste. Long ruled by the Venetians and later the Hapsburgs, it is now shared by three countries: the largest part (89%) is in Croatia, the northwestern part lies in Slovenia, and a very tiny portion belongs to Italy. While they both enjoy a rich food and wine culture and a beneficial Mediterranean climate, Tuscany and Istria are not completely similar: more than 80% of Tuscany’s production is in red wine while about 80% of the wine produced in Istria is white. Its most significant grape variety is Malvasia Istriana (also the second most important Croatian white grape after Graševina). This ancient grape is believed to have been introduced by the Venetians from Greece. Young Malvasia, simply vinified in stainless steel, produces fresh and crisp delicious wines, ideal partners for grilled sea bass, squid, sardines, and langoustines from the Adriatic. On the other hand, barrel aging and a few days of skin contact can produce a more full-bodied and age-worthy style, perfect accompaniment to Istrian pasta with truffle, black risotto, and … Continue reading Istria, the new Tuscany
How come? Frano Banicević’s Pošip Premium is once again a #WineWednesday Spotlight! Two reasons for this: first of all, the wine is really delicious, and secondly, Marcy’s springtime Instagram collage is absolutely gorgeous! Sipping some Toreta Pošip will always bring back sweet memories of our visit almost a year ago to Korčula: Like Spring itself, it’s fresh and bright with pineapple and quince notes, a touch of chalk, and great gobs of acidity. I met the Baničevic family last April on my wine scouting trip to Croatia with Blue Danube Wine. They showed us the Pošip memorial where the first vines were planted, then we joined the entire family for a seaside repast that paired perfectly with more Pošip. What a memorable day it was! Looking for a taste springtime to ward off the Winter Blues? –This is it. Toreta, try it you’ll like it! #wine #croatia #winesofcroatia #pošip #posip #korcula #toreta #bluedanubewine #roadtripmemories Follow Marcy Gordon on Instagram here.
Do you know that as many as 13 of the wineries in our current portfolio are run or co-run by women? Witnessing an increasing number of talented women involved in the wine industry on International Women’s Day is exciting. They may have taken different paths — some took over their family estate from their parents, others founded their wineries from scratch — but they are all passionate about their work. Whether they have a degree in oenology or learned the trade while working with their family, these women are making important contributions to viticulture and winemaking. In Austria, grower and winemaker Ilse Maier pioneered organic farming in Kremstal when she took over Geyerhof, the family estate, in 1986. Dorli Muhr resuscitated her family vineyards in Carnuntum and now produces some of Austria’s finest Blaufränkisch. In Tokaj, Hungary, winemakers Judit Bodó and Stéphanie Berecz founded respectively Bott and Kikelet wineries with their husbands and are now making some of the best wines of the region. In 2014, Stéphanie was awarded by her fellow winemakers the prestigious title of “winemaker of the winemakers”. Sarolta Bárdos who owns and runs Tokaj Nobilis was the winner of the prestigious award of 2012 Winemaker of … Continue reading Meet our Women Vintners