In classic post holiday season fashion, I’m just now writing the January newsletter on the 10th. January feels like you need to pop the clutch going up a hill in order to get things going again. No push button start to this month. It’s also a time when the pendulum starts to swing the other way in terms of drinking. While of course a champion of all things sparkling, aged, sweet, fortified and so on throughout the holidays, now I crave a solid and refreshing table wine – ideally in liter form. On a practical level, wines like this not only help us atone for some perhaps overextended purchases, but also mark the return to casual dinners and that end of the day glass or two. Keeping this in mind, here are some liters to help transition into the New Year. Ironically, the smallest country in the portfolio has our largest selection of liters – Slovenia. About an hour’s drive south of Graz, the heart of Austria’s Styria, and just north of the Slovenian city of Maribor, we find Silvo Črnko (Chair-n-ko). This is an impossibly fertile region littered with apples, hops, pumpkin seed oil and wine at every turn. … Continue reading Liter-ally, the Only Way to Start the New Year
“This Killer Adriatic Red is a Must-Try,” says David Lynch, Sommelier & Editorial Director at SommSelect. And although a cynic might think the reason a sommelier had selected an obscure wine was just to show-off, nine times out of ten, the customer should really be trustful: Listen, I know: trusting is hard. But if this were a tableside interaction instead of an email offer, I have no doubt that Štoka Teran would win me your trust. Why? Because it’s a wine which, despite what some experts say, exhibits true soil character. Because it’s a wine from one of those deeply historic yet somehow still-unknown regions the most devoted wine geeks cherish (in this case, Slovenia). And finally, because it is undeniably delicious, easy to drink, and not merely distinctive but undeniably well-made. According to David Lynch, the wine can age for a few more years and right now, is best decanted for 30 minutes. Serve it in Bordeaux glasses and pair it with juicy medium-rare burgers. Read the complete tasting notes and food pairing at SommSelect.
Whenever I hear Pétillant-naturel, methode ancestrale, Pét-nat, or even Peneče, I don’t immediately think Loire, I think Berkeley. Back in 2011 while working harvest for Donkey and Goat Winery, this was the first year they made Lily’s Pét-nat. Leading up to this, I remember experiments of filling up beer bottles by hand with rough estimates of what would happen post crown cap (residual sugar, yeast populations etc…). Often, while doing other winery work, bottles could be heard exploding like distant artillery fire. It was during this time I really got a sense for what gross lees smell, taste and feel like. Eventually, they figured it out and I discovered how great wines like this could be as well. For Blue Danube, it was only a matter of time before the huge array of Central/Eastern European high acid grapes would eventually lend themselves to the oldest way of making sparkling wine. Štoka was the first to lead the charge with Teran and Vitovska from the Kras appellation in Slovenia. Tadej and Primož Štoka already produced a traditional method cave aged sparkling Teran. They knew Teran had the acidity and balance but had to reverse engineer a few things for a pét-nat. … Continue reading That’s what I do. I drink Peneče and I know things…
Pétillant Naturel, or Pét-Nat for short, is a modern trend but its origin is not so new. Pét-Nats are made using the Méthode Ancestrale, the oldest way of making sparkling wines. It dates back to the 16th century and was invented by monks in the Limoux region in southwestern France. The wine is bottled before finishing its fermentation, allowing a second fermentation to naturally occur in the bottle using the residual sugar. The sediments are not removed and the wine is not filtered, producing a light and fizzy wine, often cloudy, due to the remaining lees and lack of filtration. Enjoy the fresh and lively Štoka Pét-Nats, White, Rosé, Red, made from the Slovenian grapes Vitovska and Teran. Méthode Champenoise produces sparkling wine by creating a second fermentation in bottle. The second fermentation is accomplished by adding a mixture of sugar and yeast to still wine. The wine is then bottled, capped, and aged on its lees for several months, which develops texture and complexity. When the wine is ready, the neck of the bottle is frozen in order to remove the sediments. The cap is removed and the frozen sediments shoot out of the pressurized bottle. In Hungary, Kreinbacher … Continue reading Pét-Nat, Charmat, Champenoise: plenty of bubbles for the Summer
Take a good dose of nationalism, a slightly larger dollop of history, and fuse it with taking the best from what’s around you and creating something new. This Slovenian and Istrian container is emblematic of changing flags and political systems forcing winemakers to make something that can’t be taken away from them. New co-fermented liters from Štajerska and Dolenjsko. Sanguine Teran, Refošk, Malvazija and Vitovska from both Istria and the Kras. The singular (and extremely limited) Batič wines from Vipavska Dolina. And finally, an iconic example of the most planted grape in Croatia. The borders move around, but the land and people often don’t. In 1993, Željko Adžić scored for the Croatian National soccer team and helped defeat Ukraine 3-1 — hero status in Croatia! In 1998, he left soccer to follow his larger passion for making wine in Kutjevo (interior Croatia), working with his father Antun full time. Slightly prior to 1993, Cistercian monks founded a winery in Kutjevo in 1232. It still stands and produces Graševina (Grash-eh-veena), the most planted grape in Croatia. The Adžić family continues this tradition. Graševina is high in acidity, has great weight, and carries both residual sugar and botrytis well. In Kutjevo, where … Continue reading Border(less) Regions are Great for Wine
When French eonologist Stéphanie Berecz founded Kikelet Pince with her husband Zsolt in Tarcal, Tokaj, she wanted a name that was easy to write and pronounce. She chose Kikelet, which means springtime in Hungarian or more literally “out-waking” (“ki” meaning “out”, “kel” is “to wake up” so “kelet” is technically “waking”). Kikelet refers to that moment when the young buds open up and the first spring flowers start blooming as the snow melts. Stéphanie told us when we visited the winery some years ago that she was enchanted by the fact that there was a Hungarian word for this moment and that she named the winery after it. So Spring is in the air and we start craving for brighter, more fruit-forward wines that can be paired with green salads, spring vegetables and fresh fruits. Kikelet’s Hárslevelű and Furmint wines are delicious Springtime wines, quite mineral and savory and full of stony fruit flavors. Also from Hungary, the Gilvesy Bohém Cuvée is a fragrant and zingy blend of Olaszrizling, Pinot Gris, Rhine Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc, the Gallay Bistronauta White (60% Pinot blanc, 40% Zenit) is an aromatic and easy going bistro wine, and the Pfneiszl Zefir is a refreshing … Continue reading It’s Springtime! Megjött a kikelet!
Orange/natural wine expert Simon J Woolf and author of Amber Revolution, is partnering with Savor The Experience Tours to offer a tour of the amber and natural winemakers of Slovenia and Italy. Simon and the Savor The Experience team will take you first to the hilly vineyards of the cross-border wine appellation called Collio in Italy and Brda in Slovenia (Italian and Slovenian words for ‘hill’), visiting small artisan wineries and learning about the region’s traditional orange and natural winemaking. In addition to Brda and Collio, the tour takes you to Slovenia’s lush Vipava Valley, the stoney Karst region, and ends with a day trip to Croatia’s Istrian peninsula. Besides meeting with the winemakers and tasting their production, you’ll be able to experience the delicious local cuisine and artisanal products such as olive oil, prosciutto, vinegar, cheese and truffle. This 7 day wine and gastronomy tour starts November 8 2018 and ends November 15 2018, and all guests who sign up will receive a signed copy of Simon’s first edition book Amber Revolution.
Wine enthusiast Jim van Bergen has an entertaining wine blog that driven by his passion for finding wines that his readers will enjoy, want to share, and love to taste. In one of his latest posts, he highly recommends Etty Lewensztain’s PLONK Wine Club as a holiday gift: Etty is a sommelier who sources delicious world wines at under $30/bottle. She curates artisanal, small-batch, sustainably grown, organic and biodynamic boutique wines from around the globe for PLONK. Etty’s club is designed for both the new wine lover who wants to learn about wine, as well as those like myself – jaded oenophiles who know what they like but like trying new and exciting things, and LOVE finding new, small-batch producers who are making their way in the world offering tremendous values. . . . . Why do I like her approach? Well first, I liked her wine choices. They’re great! He particularly enjoyed the Santomas Refošk 2015, included in one of the club shipments: Color is deep garnet, with an opaque center. The nose offers dark red fruit, heat, eucalyptus, and forest floor. On the palate, I received full-bodied sour cherry, red plum, with strong tannins and mouthwatering acidity. Final … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #122: Santomas Refošk
The Kabaj Rebula “is not the kind you get when cross the Florida-Georgia border; the kind you buy for your Aunt Millie who puts it away in a cabinet never to be looked at again.” For writer Patrick Ogle over at Surprising Wines, this orange wine is for adventurous palates. Giving white wines extended skin contact is something you see more of these days. It is a tough wine. It gives you the bird the whole time you are drinking it. Out of the bottle Rebula is tight even on the nose. It has an almost candied citrus peel nose with a bit of honey, but a honey with flowery characteristics (orange blossom). It smells like it is going to be sweet but instead it is harsh, woody, tannic (on a level you might associate with big red wines). You may get some citrus, or citrus skin, here but most fruit is buried initially. Patrick Ogle recommends opening the wine several hours in advance: When this wine calms down, when the tannins and woodiness retreat, you find that citrus and stone fruit blossoms. This starts several hours after opening (3 or more) but accelerates after 24 hours. It is still … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #114: Kabaj Rebula
This month, the Kabaj Merlot 2012 is Wine & Spirits Magazine‘s critic’s pick: Jean-Michel Morel’s 2012 merlot is rich with ripe plum and black cherry flavors, but the wine never feels fat or jammy, thanks to the meaty tannins and savory notes of fresh-turned earth and roasted mushrooms. A distinct note of iodine lends a sanguine savor and enhances the wine’s Old World character. The 2012 vintage is not available yet in the US. In the meantime, try the 2011. It’s a complex wine, more savory than fruity, very well balanced, and ready to drink now.