Beyond Bull’s Blood

San Francisco Magazine features an interesting article by John Capone in their latest March issue, exploring the diversity of Hungarian wine “Beyond Bull’s Blood”. Thanks to sommeliers and wine buyers eager to introduce “new” bottles to their customers, Hungarian wine is enjoying newfound respect on the well-vetted lists of restaurants like the Progress, Petit Crenn, Lord Stanley, Octavia, and the Slanted Door, and occupying hallowed shelf space at institutions like Bi-Rite and Bay Grape. Our Northern CA Sales Manager Eric Danch says: What’s most encouraging is that many of these wines don’t linger on lists; they move and get reordered. We’re seeing this in numbers; there’s undeniable growth. This year, we’re bringing in at least eight brand-new producers. What are the sommeliers saying? Jeff Berlin of À Côté on 2011 Fekete Béla Juhfark: “A fascinating grape that cab be rich and ripe, but always displays the (terroir) or its volcanic vineyards.” Courtney Humiston of Petit Crenn on Patricius Sparkling Brut: “…drinks dry but has enough richness to carry your meal”. Flora Gaspar of Da Flora on 2013 Vylyan Portugieser: “discreet spice, the jammy fruit backed by subtle tannins, and the slight lick of acid”. Chaylee Priete of The Slanted Door … Continue reading Beyond Bull’s Blood

Todd Smith of DOSA pairs Indian flavors with Croatian, Slovenian, Hungarian, and Georgian Wines

Todd Smith, wine director for DOSA South Indian restaurants in San Francisco, shares some of his wine pairing discoveries in this interview conducted by Lauren Sloss for Culintro. LS: What’s been the most surprising (and delicious!) pairing that you’ve found? TS: Maybe the first time I properly chilled a Plavac Mali from the Pelješac in Croatia and was super surprised and how it really coaxed out the tropical notes in a Kerala Fish Moilee — a coconut-based curry from the Southwest Coast of India. Todd continues: There are some regions that produce amazing wines, but their economies are struggling and/or their operating costs are so low that they offer top-flight wines for a fraction of the cost of certain unnamed wine producing regions. This is why I love countries with a wine industry such as Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Hungary, Georgia (mostly!)… Read the whole interview here.

Croatian Wine Tasting at Bistro SF Grill

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you must go visit Bistro SF Grill! It is a cozy, intimate spot in San Francisco’s Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood. Co-owners Gino, Hasim, and Seni make you feel right at home with their slightly Balkan influenced menu and wine list; all three are originally from Bosnia-Herzegovina. We had the pleasure of spending an evening with them this week to celebrate our latest arrival of Croatian wine. The guys put together a flight of 5 wines for guests to choose which included: Bibich Debit, Šipun Žlahtina, Bibich G6 Grenache, Miloš Plavac Mali, and Dubrovački Crljenak Kaštelanski (aka Croatian Zinfandel). It was a fun night of exploration, good conversation, and wine! The experience is not complete without one of their fabulous burgers. I highly recommend the Balkan Burger, which is a lamb patty between pita bread with mint yogurt sauce.

Beyond Italian Borders : Wines Of Croatia & Slovenia

When I first started selling wines from Croatia and Slovenia nearly four years ago, the myriad of Italian restaurants almost mocked me as I rolled my bag down the streets of New York City. Very often their food and quality of service were just begging to be married with the flavors and level sophistication of the bottles I had on hand. Yet, to get the Sommelier to even consider tasting was nearly impossible. “Sorry, Italian only wine list, no exceptions.” It’s not as if I was trying to pawn some New York State Riesling or Merlot onto their focused and curated list, these were wines that had an equally long tradition in the same regions as everything on their menu and these were the flavors that were meant for their food. Italy, perhaps more than any other country, embodies a strong sense of regional pride. All 20 regions have held fast to their gastronomic cultures, preserving their distinct styles of wine and food. Over the centuries the regions formed their unique cuisines based on what was available in their land. This is why ingredients like truffles are hallmarks of Piedmonte while a dish like veal Marsala is unmistakably Sicilian. It’s … Continue reading Beyond Italian Borders : Wines Of Croatia & Slovenia

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!

JURIS wine tasting with the Stiegelmars

Last week, we enjoyed the visit of Axel and Herta Stiegelmar, the charming owners of Juris Winery, who participated in a series of promotional events in San Francisco and Los Angeles. In San Francisco, they were featured at Portfolio, our annual tradeshow located this year at the San Francisco Old Mint, pouring their Pinot Noir and St. Laurent wines non-stop from 11:00am to 3:00pm. Juris is a family estate in Gols, Burgenland, run by the Stiegelmar family since the late 1500’s. After acquiring practical experience in Germany, Bordeaux and California, Axel Stiegelmar is now considered a Pinot Noir and St. Laurent specialist, producing wines of character and style with aging potential. Pinot Noir and St. Laurent are two difficult and fussy grape varieties that have actually many common characteristics. Pinot noir was most likely brought to Austria in the late 14th Century by Cistercian monks from the Order’s motherhouse in Burgundy. It grows well in the mild climate regions of Burgenland and Thermenregion (Lower Austria) and is recently gaining more importance in the country (1.4% of the plantings in 2009, up from about 0.8% in 1999). The origins of St. Laurent are mysterious but thanks to genetic testing, it is … Continue reading JURIS wine tasting with the Stiegelmars

Tokaj At Terroir Murray Hill in NYC

It’s only in the last few decades that the infamous sweet wines of Tokaji have fallen off of mainstream restaurant lists and the common-knowledge radar of average wine drinkers. Changes in the political climate of Eastern Europe are the main cause of this absence of Tokaji in the mainstream wine world. With the new generation of drinkers, the millenials, we are seeing a resurgence of appreciation for this ancient region. The enthusiasm goes beyond the famous sweet wines and explores all of the styles these aromatic wines come in. A few weeks ago Rienne Martinez of Terroir Murray Hill and I decided to share our love of Tokaji wines with New York. We developed a pairing menu that showcased the dry and sweet wines of Patricius, letting the flavors explain why these wines have been so prized throughout history. The crowd favorite was overwhelmingly the 3 puttunyos with duck confit salad. Check out the beautiful video below, produced by David DuPuy, to get a glimpse into this special event, first of many!

Jeff Berlin of À Côté

Jeff Berlin “Your wine list definitely leans toward the esoteric: Slovakian riesling, kadarka from Hungary, a cornalin from Switzerland and recently an entire zierfandler flight. How are you able to get away with a list like that?” Jeff Berlin, the General Manager of Oakland’s À Côté restaurant is one of our biggest supporters. Jeff was recently interviewed by Wine & Spirits Magazine about the success of his unique outstanding wine list. Read the entire interview.

The 2009 Juris Saint Laurent Selection is very, very delicious

2009 Juris Saint Laurent Selection As a sales rep, you never know what to expect when you taste with an account for the first time. Fortunately, my first tasting this past week with Prima Ristorante & Wine Merchants in Walnut Creek, CA was a pleasant surprise. John Rittmaster, Wine Director and Owner, has been with the restaurant and adjoining wine shop since 1994. He has developed one of the most dynamic wine lists in the area. A well respected palate, to say the least. I was pleased when he and his partner Frank Rothstein got excited about our ’09 St. Laurent from Juris, one of our Austrian producers based in Gols, Burgenland. John was so impressed that he passed along the write up below that he sent to his customer base. Thanks John for allowing us to use your wonderful post. Cheers! “Want to know how we wine merchants spend our own hard-earned dollars? Here’s a wine that I can guarantee you will find in all of our own cellars. Winemaker Axel Stieglmar Saint Laurent (Sankt Laurent locally) is one of those grapes you typically have to experience in situ, maybe from a pitcher, ever so slightly chilled, alongside one … Continue reading The 2009 Juris Saint Laurent Selection is very, very delicious

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