#WineWednesday Spotlight #81: Kabaj Merlot

Merlot has a long tradition in Goriška Brda, a appellation located at the foot of the Julian Alps on the Italian-Slovenian border. While Brda is best known for its white wines, the Merlot grape likes the well-drained sunny hills of the region and a climate that combines Mediterranean and Alpine influences. French-born Jean-Michel Morel, having worked in Bordeaux and the South of France, knows well how to work with Bordeaux varieties. His Merlot, sourced from vines grown on steep vineyards and averaging 40 years of age, fermented with native yeast and aged 2 years in barrique, is refined and elegant. It’s also age-worthy. The 2011 vintage is still full of youth and needs some time to open up. It’s a complex wine, more savory than fruity, rich and well balanced, with mineral notes on the finish. The other night, the dinner was over but the wine was still developing in glass and becoming more and more delicious so we almost finished the bottle while watching TV. Try it yourself! You can find it here.

Meet our Women Vintners

Do you know that as many as 13 of the wineries in our current portfolio are run or co-run by women? Witnessing an increasing number of talented women involved in the wine industry on International Women’s Day is exciting. They may have taken different paths — some took over their family estate from their parents, others founded their wineries from scratch — but they are all passionate about their work. Whether they have a degree in oenology or learned the trade while working with their family, these women are making important contributions to viticulture and winemaking. In Austria, grower and winemaker Ilse Maier pioneered organic farming in Kremstal when she took over Geyerhof, the family estate, in 1986. Dorli Muhr resuscitated her family vineyards in Carnuntum and now produces some of Austria’s finest Blaufränkisch. In Tokaj, Hungary, winemakers Judit Bodó and Stéphanie Berecz founded respectively Bott and Kikelet wineries with their husbands and are now making some of the best wines of the region. In 2014, Stéphanie was awarded by her fellow winemakers the prestigious title of “winemaker of the winemakers”. Sarolta Bárdos who owns and runs Tokaj Nobilis was the winner of the prestigious award of 2012 Winemaker of … Continue reading Meet our Women Vintners

Too cold to drink rosé? No way!

Should you drink Rosé in Winter? What about having Rosé for Valentine’s Day? In his latest Wine Column, wine and food writer for The Washington Post Dave McIntyre think we’re wrong to consider Rosé as a summer wine: The market is up against two consumer misconceptions: That rosé is only for summer, and that only the most recent vintage is worth drinking. Here’s the problem: We match rosé to the season, but we pair any other wine to the food we’re eating. You still eat pizza in winter? Salads? Anything garlicky, or with a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern accent? Don’t rule out rosé: It doesn’t clash with long sleeves. And don’t worry about drinking the 2015s; they’re just fine. In fact, I recently found some forgotten 2014s from California and France in my basement. They were delicious — less fresh and invigorating for gulping, perhaps, but age had given them a bit of character that made them shine with food. We have plenty of delicious Rosés in our portfolio for your Valentine. Check them out.

Wine Awesomeness: Best Wine Club for Beginners

Launched in 2012, Wine Awesomeness is a popular wine club focused on helping millennials learn about cool wines from around the world without being pretentious. Their curatorial team, led by a Food & Wine Sommelier of the Year, “combs the globe to find the coolest, craveworthiest wines. This is vino you don’t see everyday, but will want to drink everyday.” The club was recently reviewed by Reviews.com, a website providing Product reviews, testings, and comparisons. The Reviews.com team looked at twenty online wine clubs and reduced the list to eight contenders and three final picks, based on how well they introduce curious drinkers to the depth and breadth of the world of wine in a affordable way. Wine Awesomeness was their pick for the Best Wine Club for Beginners: For the beginning wine enthusiast, Wine Awesomeness delivers a great experience at an affordable price (even the name seems targeted for a millennial audience). A price of $45 gets you three wines a month, and you can choose among red only, white only, a variety pack (including the chance for rosé or bubbly), or a $75 mondo pack featuring six wines. Each delivery arrives in a fun blue box with a … Continue reading Wine Awesomeness: Best Wine Club for Beginners

Beast of Brda — Kabaj is Wine & Spirits Top 100 Wineries 2016

For the third year in a row, Kabaj has been chosen as one of the Wine & Spirits Top 100 Wineries for 2016. While the trade and consumer aspects of the event are of course vital, one of the best things about the Top 100 is simply getting producers from all over the world under one roof to taste each others wines. And year after year, this has come to reinforce how unique the Kabaj wines are and how they compliment the wider world of wine. At the same time, the Kabaj wines are often pigeonholed as simply orange, skin contact, macerated, and or amber rather than simply grape and place. A technique over terroir argument to some. While it’s technically true in that Jean-Michel embraces skin contact, oxygen, and patience rather than a fresh, temperature controlled reductive style, we could also just call his wines “wines” without further labeling. These are the traditional grapes, farmed well, handled clean and simple in the cellar, and barreled down and topped up until incredibly stable and delicious. As such, there are immense distinctions between vintages, vivid grape typicity, and the wines are alive and evolving. To be clear, there are plenty of … Continue reading Beast of Brda — Kabaj is Wine & Spirits Top 100 Wineries 2016

#WineWednesday Spotlight #56: Kabaj Rebula

For the third time, Kabaj is one of the Wine & Spirits Top 100 Wineries for 2016 , an honor the winery also received in 2015 and 2013. Maybe most impressive is that many of the Kabaj wines reviewed by Wine & Spirits are white grapes fermented with the skins, a technique usually used for red wines. Call them orange, amber, macerated or skin contact whites, this ancient wine style is largely misunderstood and does not typically garner significant professional praise, especially with such consistency. The reason is simple: Kabaj does not make “an” orange wine. Besides a small amount of red, he makes only orange wine. Even in the wine region of Brda in western Slovenia where the technique has historic precedence, few producers have so much experience. As with red grapes, a poorly managed maceration of white grapes can erase all notion of variety and origin. Done correctly though, the technique can coax out and intensify subtle grape varieties and result in wines with aromatic expression and dimension that their un-macerated parallels lack. At Kabaj, 30 days maceration make Rebula more Rebula. Rather than the pale neutral wine all too common of Rebula (called Ribolla Gialla across the … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #56: Kabaj Rebula

#WineWednesday Spotlight #39: Štoka Teran Rosé

Is this a best-wine-ever story? Close at least. It was a hot and sunny day in Lake Tahoe and we were hiking to find a secluded beach on the east shore. When most of the Lake Tahoe summer visitors are familiar with the sandy beaches of the south and north shores, the east shore has a series of hidden beaches along Highway 28, only accessible by boat or by hiking down moderately steep trails. The one we were looking for was Skunk Harbor, a picturesque cove at the end of an old forest road. After hiking 1.5 miles or so under the fragrant Ponderosa Pines, we reached the shore of the lake with a magnificent view overlooking a sandy beach and its crystal clear water, surrounded by big granite boulders. There were a few boats anchored in the water and people swimming and jumping from the boulders. At the end of the trail, you can either continue straight down to the beach or turn left, follow the shore and reach an even more secluded cove called Axelrod beach, a perfect spot for picnicking, swimming and sunbathing. It’s on our way back to the car — a 560 vertical feet hike … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #39: Štoka Teran Rosé

Atypical Wines From a Tough 2014 Istrian Vintage

2014 was generally a tough vintage throughout the Istrian peninsula, including the nearly 50 km Slovenian coastline (Slovenska obala) that runs north towards Trieste. Heavy rains in August and a cold summer overall meant lower yields for everyone. However, it was still a quality vintage if you farmed well, hand picked and weren’t tied to a recipe. Such was the case with the red wines from Coronica in Croatia and the Malvazija from Santomas in Slovenia. These are also the wines they each typically make the least of anyway. Coronica’s production is mostly white and Santomas is overwhelmingly red. Coronica Crno and Gran Teran Drive about 15 minutes southeast of the coastal city of Umag (50 km south of Trieste) and follow a small road named Koreniki and you will find Moreno Coronica. Even though the land is the same, Moreno’s grandfather was Austro-Hungarian, his father was Italian, he was Yugoslavian, and now his children are Croatian. Nevertheless, he has a stone tablet from 1764 with the family name carved into it that ties it all together. Moreno Coronica Even further back, the region’s long history also includes Romans, Goths, Franks, and Bavarians. The Republic of Venice also had a … Continue reading Atypical Wines From a Tough 2014 Istrian Vintage

End your summer with a sparkle

Kreinbacher sparkling wine on its lees Acid, spices, smoke and volcanic heritage 4-5 million years ago, lava erupted in Somló, building a mountain of basalt above an ancient sea and creating a unique environment for growing grapes. Since 2011, the Kreinbacher Estate is combining the traditions of Champagne with Somlo’s distinctiveness. Blending highly mineral Furmint sourced from the coolest, eastern slopes of the Somló hill with a dash of Chardonnay, they produce terroir-driven sparkling wines full of spices, smoky flavors and acidity. A 16 g/l dosage provides their Extra-Dry cuvée with a pleasing roundness. Törley Winery’s old posters Densely chalk-ridden soils and vibrant acidity in Etyek-Buda. There’re several similarities between the Etyek-Buda region near Budapest and Champagne: located at nearly the same latitude, they both have a unique terroir of limestone subsoil producing wines with high acidity. These similarities led József Törley in 1882 to build a sparkling wine production in the region, quickly winning an international reputation. A bright blend of Királyleányka, Riesling, and Grüner Veltliner, Törley Gála Sec is a sparkling made with the Charmat Method and a great Prosecco alternative. Much sweeter, the aromatic Törley Fortuna (a blend of Cserszegi Füszeres, Muskat Ottonel, Csabagyöngye) is a perfect … Continue reading End your summer with a sparkle

Orange Wine Is a Summer Day-Drinking Revelation

When was the last time you heard someone shout “rosé all day?” Was it Fourth of July weekend at a friend’s BBQ, or maybe out on the patio at Everson Royce? America has undoubtedly hit peak rosé, but there is another beverage that falls between white and red on the color spectrum: orange wine. LA Weekly wine writer Erin Mosbaugh recently attended the Republic of Georgia Wine Seminar at République LA in Los Angeles. One of the highlights of the seminar was Wine Guru Lou Amdur‘s presentation on orange wines. Curious about this unique winemaking style traditionally found in Georgia, Slovenia and Italy, she asked République’s beverage director Taylor Parsons about his favorite orange wines. One of them was Kabaj Rebula 2012 from Slovenia: Jean-Michel Morel is one of the great practitioners of skin maceration, partially because of the time he spent learning the technique in the Shavnabada Monastery in Georgia. His Rebula is the best entry into his outstanding range of wines. Thirty days on the skins adds a wonderful textural complexity as well as spicy, woodsy flavors, and the wonderful natural acidity of the grape keeps everything fresh and balanced. Another favorite was Gotsa Family Wines Mtsvane 2013 … Continue reading Orange Wine Is a Summer Day-Drinking Revelation