12 Exciting Wine Regions You’ve Never Heard Of

Wine Enthusiast Magazine has a new article called 12 Exciting Wine Regions You’ve Never Heard Of. We import wines from 4 of them: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, and Slovenia. We think they should have mentioned Georgia, too! On Slovenia: “Nestled within the crossroads of the Alps and the Mediterranean, Slovenia produces some of the most exciting wines in Central Europe. Since the fall of communism, much of Slovenia’s wine production has returned to small, family-owned operations, where individualism and experimentation have taken center stage. —Anna Lee Iijima, ratings by Jeff Jenssen” Batič 2007 Valentino Sweet Red Merlot-Cabernet Franc (Vipavska Dolina); $60/375 ml, 90 points. Kabaj 2008 Cuvée Morel Red (Goriska Brda); $46, 90 points. Sanctum 2011 Chardonnay (Štajerska); $17, 90 points. Štoka 2011 Izbrani Teran (Kras); $23, 90 points. On Hungary: “With 160,000 acres dedicated to vineyards, white wine accounts for 70% of Hungary’s total production. Beloved by Thomas Jefferson and Russian czars alike, the country’s strikingly floral, lusciously fruity wines are traditionally a blend of Tokaji grapes: Furmint, Hárslevelű and varieties of Muscat. Not unlike other botrytis-affected wines like Sauternes, Tokaji is one of the wine world’s best-kept secrets, boasting the ability to age for decades. —Anna Lee Iijima, ratings … Continue reading 12 Exciting Wine Regions You’ve Never Heard Of

The Epic Eastern European Getaway

One of the greatest aspects about wine is its ability to transport the drinker to another place. It is possible to learn something new about a foreign culture, language, and landscape simply by popping open a different bottle. This feeling of discovery is one that Wine Awesomeness, online-based curated wine club, tries to share with their members. Last month, Wine Awesomeness chose to focus on six of our wines from five different regions: Hungary, Slovenia, Georgia, Croatia, and Austria. Now they have joined forces with Savor the Experience Tours to award a few lucky winners an actual Blue Danube Wine Tour. View the itinerary and make sure to enter the sweepstakes to win an all-inclusive food & wine tour and spend a luxury laden week in Slovenia and Croatia. Sip, sightsee, and visit vineyards and villages on us! Enter now – an epic Eastern European vino vacation awaits – courtesy of @bluedanubewine and @wineawesomeness. Contest starts March 1st and we’ll have the honor to announce the winners towards the end of the month.

Savor the Experience Tours — and Blue Danube wines — with Andrew Villone

On the second day of our Kabaj visit we met a group of cheerful US tourists that were just starting a tour through Slovenia and Croatia. Their tour leader was Andrew Villone — a longtime friend of Blue Danube Wine Co. — who had just moved to Slovenia from Seattle with his Russian-born wife and two children to grow his Savor the Experience touring business. “I love it here,” he told me later that night as we were sipping our Cuvée Morel on the terrace. “Running Savor the Experience from Ljubljana is so much more convenient than from Seattle. And we don’t regret the big city. The life here is much better for my wife and my kids. Plus the schools in Slovenia are excellent.” We also talked about his plans to introduce special Blue Danube tours for wine and food lovers. The itineraries would be designed around visits to Blue Danube producers, where guests could enjoy exclusive wine tastings and food pairings. I thought this project could surely appeal to our customer community in the US. The group left the following morning — some still sleepy as they stayed until 3am in the Kabaj cellar with Jean-Michel! — in … Continue reading Savor the Experience Tours — and Blue Danube wines — with Andrew Villone

Miloš Stagnum: The Perfect Thanksgiving Wine

Stagnum, the flagship wine made from Plavac Mali grapes by Frano Miloš and his children is my first choice for Thanksgiving. Stagnum is the Latin name for the small Croatian town Ston where the Miloš family lives and tends their organic vineyards. Here,the Pelješac Peninsula connects with the Dalmatian mainland less than 50 miles north of Dubrovnik. If there is one Plavac which truly represents the land from where it comes and what this popular Croatian grape tastes like, it’s Stagnum. It’s not cheap but worth every single drop. The 2006 vintage we offer is excellent, making this wine a special treat for every wine lover. Miloš makes Plavac Pur!   The main reason that Stagnum fits so well on our Thanksgiving dinner table is its versatility. Naturally, Plavac pairs well with BBQ meats of all kinds. More surprisingly is that it also works very well with Turkey, Chicken, and even more gamey fowl. Most visitors to Dalmatia are amazed when they experience that Plavac also is a great match for Oysters regardless of how they are prepared: fresh on the shell with just a touch of lemon juice, or baked with bacon, hot sauce, and other flavorful condiments. Plavac also reminds … Continue reading Miloš Stagnum: The Perfect Thanksgiving Wine

Island Whites

Somewhere in Croatia (photo: Michael Newsome) The coast of Croatia is a rugged mountainous seascape of 1000 islands. From the barren Kornati to the forested shores of Korčula, these are the jewels of the Adriatic. 3,500 miles of craggy untamed limestone coast, awesome in the truest sense. Only 66 of the islands are inhabited. Krk (Ki-rrk), Hvar (huh-var), and Korčula (Core-chew-la) are three of the largest, and most important wine wise are still very much wild. Each is home to their own autochthonous (formed in its present position) grape varieties—found little or nowhere else on earth, under conditions unique to each island, capable of expressing their position and the culture of those who farm them. The soils vary but are all limestone based. Conditions tend to be wet in winter and hot and dry in summer. Each of these producers is working small plots by hand, the dry windy growing season rarely requires vineyard treatment. Krk, Croatia’s northerly, largest island has long been famous for wine. Less of the Dalmatian islands are under vine today than historically. The 250 hectares today are a shadow of the 2,500 under vine during Roman occupation. Within Krk’s Kvarner Valley winemaker Ivica Dobrinčić maintains … Continue reading Island Whites

Visiting Croatia with Eric and Michael: Carić Winery

On their recent trip to Croatia, Eric and Michael enjoyed their visit to the island of Hvar where they met Ivana and Ivo Carić. It’s a rare occasion to be eager to swim in the area where ferries dock but even more rare that the water there is crystal clear and littered with sea urchins and schools of fish. The moment we drove our mighty Fiat off of the boat, even before walking on solid land, it was obvious to us that this island is pristine and busy with life. We began our journey by meeting up with recent friends Marion and Zdravko Podolski. This couple who usually reside in California also have a house on Hvar and a near encyclopedic knowledge of it — check out their website. We joined up to meet, and beyond just visiting vineyards and tasting wine we circumnavigated and learned the history of the entire island and what makes it undeniably unique. Our first stop was to tour the UNESCO protected Stari Grad Plain. These are agricultural parcels (900x180m) called “Chora” replete with a rainwater collection system, cisterns, and rock walls dividing everything within a maze of stone roads. This may sound typical but … Continue reading Visiting Croatia with Eric and Michael: Carić Winery

Croatian Holiday with Adventures Croatia

It looks like this summer everybody I know is going to Croatia. This includes my sister, who should be crossing the Croatian border as I write these words, my friend, who is taking her kids on a Game of Thrones Tour along the Dalmatian coast, and then in September, my husband and I will be spending a week in Istria, just the two of us! I don’t think it’s a coincidence. Since the end of the Serbo-Croatian War, Croatia has become an attractive touristic destination with a reputation of being one of the most romantic getaways in Europe. This is not surprising: with more than a thousand islands and a 3,600 miles of coastline, Croatia is full of natural and historic wonders including Roman ruins, Byzantine mosaics, Venetian towns, and a picturesque hilly interior covered with olive groves, vineyards, and medieval villages. Now if you need help organizing your Croatian Holiday, we recommend Adventures Croatia. They have a team of knowledgeable travel consultants that can assist you with your itinerary. They’re particularly specialized in designing tours for honeymooners as well as couples seeking a romantic getaway. They will partner with you to design a great travel adventure based on your … Continue reading Croatian Holiday with Adventures Croatia

Visiting Croatia with Eric and Michael: Miloš Winery

Not too long ago we had the privilege to host a significant part of the Miloš family: all three of the next generation. It was a pleasure to get to know Ivan, Franica, and Josip and learn more about the wine their father Frano creates back home in Croatia. Enjoy this next stop on the tour! -Gisele In a world that seems trapped in time, the amphitheater of Miloš vineyards spreads out beyond the boundaries of peripheral vision. Bright white stone reflects more sunlight than most Californians ever experience and between this abundant sun and stone live thousands of head trained Plavac Mali vines. Truly a magical place, the land is covered with rock walls built from the creation of these family tilled vineyards. The wonder of this place is only surpassed when compared to the visionary that created it, Frano Miloš. One of the memorable things Frano told us is that he’s aware that his wine-growing and winemaking are both at odds with the current pace of the world. And while he admits to sometimes driving with one hand and eating a sandwich in the other, making and drinking his wine is an opportunity to live a more fulfilling … Continue reading Visiting Croatia with Eric and Michael: Miloš Winery

Visiting Croatia with Eric and Michael: Suha Punta Winery

We continue our adventure with Eric and Michael in Croatia at Suha Punta winery. Thank you for following along thus far! -Gisele As guide books and Google searches are keen to remind you, George Bernard Shaw wrote about the staggering number of rocky islands off the Croatian coast as “On the last Day of Creation God wished to crown his work and he created Kornati out of tears, stars and breath.” This may be true for the Kornati Islands, but when you see the rocky vineyards just south on the mainland in Bucavac, it looks like God lost a bet. Even as you drive towards to the nearest town of Primošten, there are just piles of rocks and old rock walls coating the hillsides. Topsoil doesn’t seem to apply, there is little to no tree cover, and the “Bora” and “Jugo” winds relentlessly pummel the area. Growing grapes here at first glance seems like losing a bet as well. Not surprisingly, this is Croatia’s smallest appellation and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since it has been under vine since the 8th Century B.C. Illyrians. When you see these vineyards for the first time, it’s less about: how is this possible? … Continue reading Visiting Croatia with Eric and Michael: Suha Punta Winery

Visiting Croatia with Eric and Michael: Coronica Winery

If you follow your GPS on the way to find Coronica, you will end up on a lovely tour of the city of Umag, but not at his winery. Head just a few miles east of the village onto a small road named Koreniki (the old spelling of his surname) and you will find him there. Even though the land is the same, Moreno’s grandfather was Austro-Hungarian, his father was Italian, he is Yugoslavian, and now his children are Croatian. He still has a stone tablet from 1764 with the family name carved into it. Nevertheless, the vineyards have always been planted in Istria’s famous Terra Rossa. Moreno tends his vines with focus, care and minimal intervention. At the winery, grapes are chilled down before fermentation to ensure a pure expression of the vineyards. The intense red soil here perfectly reflects Moreno’s own temperament. Rich with iron, and with a strong capacity to hold moisture it will make impression on you and your shoes that will spread everywhere you walk the rest of the day. It is in this soil that Teran and Malvasia grow as they do nowhere else — even the walls in the winery have this soil … Continue reading Visiting Croatia with Eric and Michael: Coronica Winery