The Fragrance of Austria by Stuart Pigott

On March 22nd we held a tasting of two dynamic Austrian wine estates, Geyerhof and Muhr-van der Niepoort, at Jadis Wine Bar in New York. Acclaimed wine critic and writer Stuart Pigott attended and has graciously allowed us to share his review of the event here. Enjoy! New York Wine Diary: Day 5 – The Fragrance of Austria by Stuart Pigott Last night at Jadis wine bar on Rivington Street in the Lower East Side I had a Close Encounter of the Third Kind with the wonderful fragrance that Austrian wine is capable of. I’m not talking about the in-your-face kind of aromas that many so-called Icon Wines from around the globe have – they are often so over-concentrated that they slams into you like rogue waves – much less the kind of overwhelming artificiality that many modern fragrances (for men and for women!) display. No, I’m talking about the aromatic delicacy that is possible in various parts of Austria, particularly with indigenous grape varieties like the white Grüner Veltliner and the red Blaufränkisch (aka Kékfrankos / Lemberger), or well-integrated immigrants like the white Riesling (from Germany) and Sauvignon Blanc (from the Loire in France). Let’s start with tannic red … Continue reading The Fragrance of Austria by Stuart Pigott

The winemakers are coming, meet them in Danubia!

Danubia is a border-less wineland situated geographically and philosophically between wine’s contemporary western position and its ancient Eastern origins. The mighty Danube River spans not just geography but also culture and time, defining landscape and the tastes of our Danubian wine loving predecessors. We dub it Danubia: unity through diversity. Nothing else in the world tastes like these wines. From steep terraced limestone vineyards overlooking the Adriatic, to basalt volcanoes whose wines once promised male progeny, to the world’s first classified vineyards where botrytis meets flor, these are the flavors of Danubia. Join us in DANUBIA and meet our fabulous winemakers that will be visiting the US this month: Grand Liquoreux Master Samuel Tinon will be presenting his remarkable Tokaji wines in New York. He will be joined by Skradin winemaker star Alen Bibić and natural wines pioneer Miha Batič, who will also visit Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. For the new Miloš generation, Ivan, Franica, and Josip, this will be their first US trip. They will bring their most respected Plavac wines to Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and finally New York. This will be a rare opportunity to armchair travel to Central … Continue reading The winemakers are coming, meet them in Danubia!

Culture connections

With Sherry fest in full swing in NYC , here is an unexpected connection worth sharing. A few months ago at a Wine and Spirits magazine event, I had the pleasure of pouring the 2007 Samuel Tinon Dry Szamorodni for Sherry aficionado and Spanish chef Alex Raij of Basque restaurants Txikito and La Vara. Like dry Sherry, the distinctive character of the Szamorodni is partly derived from a veil of natural yeast—called flor in Spanish—that develops on the surface of the wine as it ages. As a special example of the maligned style of dry Szamorodni, the Tinon spoke to her. In the spring of 2014, it will be paired with a dish Chef Raij will prepare as part of a James Beard House dinner. She also recently added the Tinon to the wine list at La Vara. I find it inspiring that one of New York City’s most discerning Spanish chefs sees connections and harmony between Spanish cuisine and a little known style of Hungarian white wine. Connecting seemingly disparate cultures in this way is good. It enhances their appreciation and hopefully inspires others to see associations that are less than apparent. Tokaji and Sherry are more alike than … Continue reading Culture connections

Blue Danube wines excell at Wine & Spirits 24th Annual Restaurant Poll

On May 1, 2013, Wine & Spirits Executive Editor Tara Q. Thomas organized a tasting of sommelier favorites from Eastern Europe for the Wine & Spirits 24th Annual Restaurant Poll. Watch the sommelier interviews that were conducted during the tasting and notice their enthusiasm for the wines: “These are wines with a sense of place, these are wines that tell a story of a remote region, and wines that make you travel, let’s say, imaginary travel while we’re drinking them.” shares Ciprian Toma from Domaine Wine Bar. Also note that several Blue Danube wines were among the sommelier favorites!

Wine: a cultural preservative?

The last few weeks have been particularly active for us, even nuts. We are in the middle of a visit from Ivica Dobrinčić of Šipun and Alen Bibić of Bibich Winery in NYC for Vina Croatia. In the air right now are Judit and Jozsef Bodó of Bott Pince in Tokaj who will visit us in NY first then SF and LA. Finally I take a moment to read the pamphlets Ivica brought to promote his wines at the various tastings. Nice pictures, good information, nicely written, and then the last few sentences made me stop to share. He is writing in reference to the wines of his native Krk, “The traditional, but sometimes neglected viticulture and wine production have recently evolved in a modern technologically sophisticated and promising industry, Such a development has improved the existence of many domestic families. It has also prevented people from leaving their birthplace, and at the same time generated superior results.” We understand wine as a beverage and a commodity, but cultural preservative, or even cultural booster? When I consider the history and tradition behind these families, hear them share their visionary ideas and then taste their already singular and delicious wines, I … Continue reading Wine: a cultural preservative?

Countdown to MARKET TASTING NYC – after the show

Market Tasting NYC at Terroir Tribeca went off without a hitch. For those who could not be there, it was a blast and we missed you! Center stage Tokaji/Somlo wowed and dazzled, to oooohs, aaahhs and the odd exclamatory foot stomp. Part of the Blue Danube Wine Co. mission is to see the greatness of these historic regions realized again. These precious few samples were an important step. To all the producers who sent them, you rule. As do all the other producers wines who were poured. All together this was one of the finest events we have participated in and it would not be possible without your wines! A special thanks to co-host Indie Wineries, made us feel like family.

Somló – Wines of the Volcano Gods

If you type “Somló, 8481 Doba, Hungary” into Google Earth, you will virtually hover over an irregular oval in a sea of quadrilaterals. For those who have forgotten geometry, Somló hill and the vineyards circling its flanks look just like what they are: a long-extinct volcano rising from a flat patchwork of otherwise angular fields.It is a striking geological formation, about three-quarters of a mile in diameter, whose combination of ancient seabed and volcanic basalt soils set Somló apart as a uniquely white-wine region—and the only dedicated region whose wines more than hold their own with the better-known whites of Tokaj. At Blue Danube’s recent trade tasting in Manhattan, I had the opportunity to sample six Somló wines from two producers. The grape varieties are familiar from Tokaj, to the east—Furmint, Hárslevelű, Olaszrizling (Welschriesling)—with the addition of the rare Juhfark, which grows only in Somló. The two producers, Fekete Béla and Spiegelberg, are clearly different in style. Also, the Furmints are notably lighter and leaner than the Tokaj examples I tasted, and are higher in acidity and minerality, a trend I suspect would extend to the other varieties equally. Fekete Bela The trio of wines made by Mr. Fekete are … Continue reading Somló – Wines of the Volcano Gods

Countdown to MARKET TASTING NYC III

Today is Blue Danube Wine Co.’s break-out NY Trade debut at Terroir Tribeca. Too close for comfort, all the samples have arrived. Were it not for Zsuzsa’s hard work, Fed-Ex and customs would have never known how bad we needed these wines! Double luck: Frank Dietrich swang by JFK via SFO to pick up the J and J Eger Kekefrankos we were also waiting on! That means all our samples have arrived on time for the tasting. We are so proud to be a part of this vinous cultural process and so excited to share (drink) these wines we love so much. You soon will too! NYC, here we come!! Tokaji—Eden Abandoned—No region has impressed us at Blue Danube Wine Co. as the volcanic hills of Europe’s first protected wine region, Tokaj-Hegyalja. It is to us what Burgundy is to others. A chain of 400 volcanoes of impossible geological and microclimatological complexity, a long history as a wine region and a plethora of indigenous varieties and styles of wine, we can’t get enough of it. Some say there is a wine renaissance underway in Tokaj today; we are inclined to agree. All our samples have finally arrived from Hungary! Bodrog … Continue reading Countdown to MARKET TASTING NYC III

Countdown to MARKET TASTING NYC II

In honor of Blue Danube Wine Co.’s break-out NY Trade debut at Terroir Tribeca this coming Thursday, we plan to introduce a bunch of ultra special Hungarian wines that are being air freighted to NY as we speak. Days away, we are all wondering: will they make it in time??! The Jury is out, but the good news is that the 2nd of 4 deliveries has just arrived! Will the others make it? Hard to say! Let the count down begin, 2!! Here is a sneak peak: We, Blue Danubians, are accustomed to remarks noting the exotic names and natures of the varieties we source, so to praise the likes of a grape as common as Pinot Noir feels quite strange to us! Occasionally a wine demands it though. Vylyan Pinot Noir is possibly the most decorated wine in Hungary: awards and accolades cover the bottle like the pins of a military general. Vylyan planted Pinot Noir vines where fog gathers and grapes ripen slowly, in a belly button shaped depression smack dab in the middle of Villány, Hungary—basically their Cabernet country. It should be illegal to invoke Burgundy when talking about Pinot Noir that is not actually Burgundian, but … Continue reading Countdown to MARKET TASTING NYC II

Countdown to MARKET TASTING NYC I

In honor of Blue Danube Wine Co.’s break-out NY Trade debut at Terroir Tribeca this coming Thursday, we plan to introduce a bunch of ultra special Hungarian wines that are being air freighted to NY as we speak. Days away, we are all wondering: will they make it in time??! The Jury is out, but the good news is that the 1st of 4 deliveries has just arrived! Will the others make it? Hard to say! Let the count down begin, 3!! Here is a sneak peak: Little appellation, big WINES Millions of years ago, Somló, Hungary’s smallest appellation, was an underwater volcano. Now dormant, its southerly slopes of ancient sea sediment and basalt are home to some of Hungary’s steepest, most densely planted vineyards. Minutely divided, these rarely trellised parcels of vines are workable only by hand. The cellars and size of the production are also the smallest in Hungary, and again worked by hand. Somló’s exclusively white wines are typically made from Hárslevelű, Furmint, Olaszrizling, or the local rarity Jufark. The soil really “gets into the wines” and they are among the most distinctive wines we have ever encountered; aromas lean towards dried fruits, dried herbs and rare … Continue reading Countdown to MARKET TASTING NYC I