Orange wine isn’t what you think it is

Orange wines, or perhaps more accurately described as amber wines, have been gaining more and more popularity with wine consumers. Writer Robin Shreeves gives these wines a try with the help of Keith Beavers, wine educator and owner of New York City’s In Vino Restaurant & Wine Bar, for Mother Nature Network. What is orange wine? The simple way to explain orange wine is that it’s white wine made like red wine. For white wine, the skins of white or red grapes are separated from the juice immediately. When red wines are made, the juice and the skins are left together for a time, imparting the color and the tannins from the skins, seeds and stems into the wine. Orange wine is made from the juice of white grapes that have contact with their skins for a time before fermenting, imparting an orange or amber tint to the wine. See Robin’s notes on a few of the “orange” or “amber” wines we import: Oil was what jumped out at me the first time I breathed in the scents of an orange wine — although I got motor oil, not linseed. Our host chose Piquentum Blanc’12 from Croatia made from the … Continue reading Orange wine isn’t what you think it is

Blue Danube, Selling Croatia’s Original Zinfandel in California

With its 130 indigenous grape varieties — including the original Zinfandel — Croatian wine is attracting interest around the globe, but how easy is it to sell Croatian wine in the Zinfandel heartland of California? Paul Bradbury from Total Croatia News interviewed Frank Dietrich and his team from Blue Danube on January 31, 2016, who are doing exactly that. And with great success. Here are some of the interview’s highlights: Wines from Eastern Europe selling in a wine heartland such as California sounds like a tough sell. How did you come up with the idea and tell us how you started? We hail from Europe and returned to Europe to build marketing and sales for a fast growing American computer company. After our return to California we decided to leave hi-tech and start Blue Danube Wine, an import company dedicated to the wines of the ancient wine regions along the Danube River and the Eastern Mediterranean. We knew a lot of wine was historically produced here. Our hopes that the wines would become better over time have been confirmed vintage-by-vintage. It has been an exciting journey so far. The new, young generation of wine makers active today in Central, East, … Continue reading Blue Danube, Selling Croatia’s Original Zinfandel in California

Unexpected reds from Istria and Kvarner Croatia

Dalmatia is beautiful, but it receives more than its fair share of attention. Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula and Kvarner region, while perhaps less dramatic than Dalmatia, make up one of Europe’s most diverse landscapes. As one drives, the panoramas oscillate between mountain vistas, windswept limestone beaches and misty vineyards. You can wash down scampi on the island of Krk with a light briny Žlahtina for lunch, and after just an hour and a half drive west into Istria, eat for dinner hand rolled Fuzi buried in white truffles with sappy red Teran. It is one of our favorite areas to return. Around every corner is a new dish and in every cellar a new wine. We have just received a shipment from Slovenia and Northern Croatia. Among the wines are two distinctive new reds: Coronica Crno from Coastal Istria and Šipun Sansigot from the island of Krk in the gulf of Kvarner. The rare Sansigot is the latest release of Ivica Dobrinčić of Šipun on the island of Krk. In addition to making wine from the half dozen hectares of vines he farms, Ivica also operates a grape vine nursery aimed at re-propagating ancient native varieties. Ivica says most of the 20 … Continue reading Unexpected reds from Istria and Kvarner Croatia

Introducing Coronica Crno Vino

A review of a new wine from Coronica: Crno Vino, or red wine, by Croatian wine writer Nenad Trifunović: No name. Simply “red”; Crno in Croatian. Only Coronica can get away with something like this. The “CO” logo alone is sufficient incentive to buy a bottle. Immediately the distinctive Teran spice is apparent on the nose. You can smell, and taste, a wild, iron-like character. Coronica blends Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon along with the Teran which can be felt on the palate. Beautiful simplicity that is not easily accomplished. Coronica is a skilled master after all. Even his simple table wine is a true, serious wine. Perfect for everyday consumption. Hearty, lively, sleek, with no tannic roughness or any components demanding more time to soften and mellow. Ready upon opening the bottle, with a very drinkable 12% alc,  suitable with many dishes. I am quite sure this wine, aside from a small percentage perhaps, has not aged in any wood, yet I am confident many will comment on certain “woodiness” on the nose. Both aromatic sensations and well balanced vinous acids are features of a wine ideal for casual consumption. For example, I was endlessly thankful how it paired with … Continue reading Introducing Coronica Crno Vino

Top Croatian Wines in the USA: Indigenous Grapes Grow Sales

Cliff Rames, founder of Wines of Croatia and sommelier, writes about indigenous Croatian grapes making the most impact in the United States market for Total Croatia. On January 21, 2016, I asked the top three American importers of Croatian wines to reveal which Croatian wines were best sellers in 2015 and provide clues about what new and exciting developments await in 2016. So grab a glass of your top Croatian wine and check out revelations below, listed alphabetically by producer, with tasting notes and added commentary by the importers about what made the wines successful in the U.S. Here are the wines we import: Bibich R6 2012 (Red) 34% Babić; 33% Lasin; 33% Plavina “This northern Dalmatia wine shows more smoke and Mediterranean herbs than heavy, overbearing fruit,” observed Eric Danch, Northern California Sales Manager at Blue Danube Wine Company. “There’s immediate life and levity without compromising its unique character. It’s a wine that can be readily be devoured at a casual dinner party and yet capture the attention of wine professionals.” Miloš Plavac 2010 (Red) 100% Plavac Mali “Plavac Mali has a much thicker skin than any of the three native grapes in the Bibich R6,” noted Danch. “The … Continue reading Top Croatian Wines in the USA: Indigenous Grapes Grow Sales

#WineWednesday Spotlight #9: Piquentum Terre Refošk 2012, the friendly wine

As I opened our bottle of Piquentum Terre Refošk 2012 last weekend, this reminded me of our trip to Istria in fall 2014 and our visit to Piquentum and its owner, Dimitri Brečević. I am afraid to say, we first missed the place and had to call Dimitri for assistance. For our defense, there was no obvious sign from the road that could indicate the winery, just big industrial doors leading to an underground Italian water cistern. Fortunately, we found Dimitri waving at us as we were retracing our steps. Being raised in Jurançon in south-western France, Dimitri speaks a pleasant musical French. It was a friend of his Croatian father, as he explained to us, that found this water cistern at the bottom of the medieval town of Buzet (Pinguente in Italian). With an average temperature of 10ºC (50ºF) throughout the year, this was the perfect place to make and age wines. There are no vineyards around Buzet, which is better known for its truffles, and some of Dimitri’s best vineyards are a few miles away, around the historic town of Motovun. In some way, Istria is a “new old world”. Contrary to France, explained Dimitri, there’s a lot … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #9: Piquentum Terre Refošk 2012, the friendly wine

The Start of a Croatian Wine Love Affair

Travel/wine writer and founder of Writing Between the Vines, Marcy Gordon loves Croatia, especially the wines. Check out what sparked her interest and read about her first visit to Croatia. Thank you for sharing with us, Marcy! The first time the wines of Croatia came across my radar was through a random Tweet I saw by Cliff Rames (founder, Wines of Croatia). Until that point I’d never tried any wine from the region and knew little about Croatian varietals. I was directed to Blue Danube Wines as the place to start. Through the Blue Danube Portfolio I was given a wonderful overview of what Croatia had to offer. I found a rustic elegance in the wines with flavor profiles both bright and deep, and a briny kiss of salinity that was intriguing and enjoyable. One producer that stood out for me was Bibich. My love affair with Bibich wine began with that tasting and shortly afterwards I had the opportunity to visit Alen Bibić at his winery in Skradin, outside of Šibenik on the Dalmatian coast of Croatia. It was there that my simple infatuation with Croatia bloomed into lust — an appreciative lust for the wine and food and the … Continue reading The Start of a Croatian Wine Love Affair

#WineWednesday Spotlight #7: Coronica Gran Teran 2011

A review of Coronica’s Gran Teran 2011 by Croatian wine writer, Nenad Trifunović: Finally a brilliant teran! This vintage exhibits even greater aging potential than the glorified 2000 harvest. The flavors are of reminiscent of the terra rossa soils the grapes grow in and of iron enriched, wild forest fruit. With a hint of tobacco, a touch of vanilla, and a whisper of a caramel, you know there is some oak influence. Gran Teran is an example of carefully restrained teran with preserved personality. There is a stony, iron minerality which can remind you of the taste of blood. For sure, the wine is yet too young. Nevertheless, its balance evokes marvel. Serious elevage in a great artisan’s cellar has prepared it for decades to come. Coronica demonstrates what teran is capable of with such a perfectly tailored wine that also respects the variety and terroir. Although this vintage resulted in very hign alcohols (14,5%) for teran, the wine is balanced by characteristic high acids and tannins, firm body, smoothness, softness, and richness without being flabby. The weight is pleasant and supports the bright acid backbone, with earthy tannin and a fruity spiciness. See the original post here. Also try the 2009 vintage.

#WineWednesday Spotlight #6: Miloš Plavac Mali

Now that the holiday season is drawing to a close, we can take a moment to pause and catch our breaths. Our wallets are a little slimmer, and our waistlines a little larger after all the delicious holiday cooking and lack of exercise to which we’ve treated ourselves. Of course, as we assess our goals for 2016, we will try and reassign those adjectives, move those pounds from our paunch, convert them to dollars, and load up our bank accounts. Each year, I like to look back and see just how much I’ve accomplished, instead of constantly focusing on how far I still have to go. One major highlight of 2015 was a rather spontaneous “Cannonball Run” road trip through the Balkans over Easter, beginning in Austria and running the circuit down to Thessaloniki in Greece. This afforded me an opportunity to view a region of the world that is remarkably under appreciated. Each Slavic country boasts beautiful and picturesque landscapes, as well as a fierce sense of personal identity and pride to distinguish a uniqueness in each place. During the trip (and thanks to the linguistic acumen of my friend Danny and his fluent Serbian), we interacted with locals … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #6: Miloš Plavac Mali

The Youthful Evolution of Dalmatia

It was back in 2007 that I set about to write the first edition of my Dalmatian wine guide. Since then, I’ve fully updated it four times to arrive at the current edition. I realize of course that even the most recent edition will need updating again as these wines are constantly in s state of flux, especially when taken in the context of watching this evolution for the last decade. I was in Dalmatia for the Dalmacija Wine Expo this year. While it was my first time, the event has been going on for the last six years or so, first further south in Makarska and then for the last two years with a couple of additional days spent in Dalmatia’s much easier to reach capital, Split. People naturally told me that the event in Makarska sees more winemakers and is much more of a party. Maybe at some point I’ll find the time to make it there but what I saw and tasted in Split was plenty to re-acquaint myself with wineries I’ve gotten to know well over the years. The biggest thing to note in Dalmatia wine has been the evolution of most winemakers’ portfolios. For me, … Continue reading The Youthful Evolution of Dalmatia