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

The vineyard must be full of rock’n’roll: a conversation with Miha Batič

Batič wines have an immediate signature despite often drastic vintage variation. The tone and substance of Miha Batič is also immediately recognizable in his words. Having been fortunate enough to visit him, walk the vineyards and drink in concert with his vinyl collection, I’ve also hosted him a number of times in the Bay Area. I can assure you from first hand experiences, that if you’re into wine as philosophy, magic, poetry and yet still being effortless to easily finish a whole bottle, this interview is worth a gander. Let’s listen to Miha in is own words and look forward to drinking his 2015 Rosé, 2013 Pinela and 2013 Zaria — Eric Danch Miha, what’s a biodynamic wine? Biodynamic is a method of farming that goes beyond organic, considering the laws of the Earth’s natural motion and the seasons. A biodynamic wine reflects the variety and terroir in most living beings. Wine, like all living things, changes a little every day depending on factors like the phases of the moon and your company. When you drink in good company, the wine can taste even sweeter! What changes were made to attain Demeter certification? In the middle of the eighties we … Continue reading The vineyard must be full of rock’n’roll: a conversation with Miha Batič

A caron of refreshment

Črnko Jareninčan, Štoka Teran rose and Martinčič Cviček will be available shortly after their May 25th arrival at port. They’re all from the idyllic 2015 vintage and none are over 12.5% abv. Spread across Slovenia, the three wineries Črnko, Štoka, and Martinčič form a triangle and moreover, speaking of triangles, that two sided triangle above all these threatening words is a caron. It adds an “h” to the pronunciation of the letter it crowns. “CHrnko, SHtoka, MartinCHiCH”… Get it? Amazing it took us so long to share that! 2015 Martinčič Cviček: The name Cviček (Zvee-Check) is evidently old Slovenian for “very sour wine”. A bracingly dry blend of native red and white varieties that cannot exceed 10% abv. nor be diluted or dealcoholized. Cviček comes from Lower Carniola in Southern Slovenia, another of the country’s picturesque green hillscapes and tastes of the surrounding forest and sour cherry. Barely red and void of tannin, it should be chilled and gulped. In addition to a vine nursery, Jernej Martinčič conscientiously farms 8 hectares over 7 sites of mixed marls and limestones. Fermented with native yeast in stainless steel and wood tanks before blending and bottled just after malolactic fermentation which moderates the … Continue reading A caron of refreshment

Why Slovenia Has Become One of Europe’s Best Food Destinations

Alex Halberstadt takes a bells and whistles culinary tour of Slovenia for Travel + Leisure. Starting with Kabaj Rebula and a bowl of Katja’s Jota. Read the whole article here. Morel poured us his Rebula, an orange-hued white that smelled, improbably, of roses and tea. He ages the wine the way ancient Romans did: in clay amphorae lined with beeswax and buried in the ground. “Most orange wines are mistakes,” Morel said bluntly. His was not: I found it more delicate and fun to drink than most I’d had. Try Kabaj Rebula, or try Amphora, the wine referenced in the article that is aged in clay amphora.

Celebrate Spring with Potica, the traditional Slovenian cake

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending a potica baking workshop hosted by the Slovenian Hall in San Francisco. I knew that potica was an important, sweet staple for Slovenians but little else. When I saw the invitation, I jumped at the opportunity to learn more and have the chance to taste this delicacy prepared by local experts. I’m glad I did! Potica (pronounced po-teet-sa), which roughly means “to wrap in” in Slovene, is a traditional cake often served at holiday celebrations, especially Easter. Every family has its favorite recipe but it is usually a rolled bread filled with a walnut paste. It can be shaped as a log, baked in a loaf pan or in a Bundt pan. It was a fun afternoon featuring 3 different variations on the treat. I chose one to share with you here and hope that you will give it a try, perhaps as a snack along side a Slovenian wine? Recipe, courtesy of Blair Kilpatrick Dough 1 c. plus 6 T. butter, melted and cooled 1 c. + 1 t. sugar 6 egg yolks 1-1/2 c. sour cream 2 packages dry yeast 3/4 c. warm milk 6 c. flour 1 … Continue reading Celebrate Spring with Potica, the traditional Slovenian cake

Orange wine isn’t what you think it is

Orange wines, or perhaps more accurately described as amber wines, have been gaining more and more popularity with wine consumers. Writer Robin Shreeves gives these wines a try with the help of Keith Beavers, wine educator and owner of New York City’s In Vino Restaurant & Wine Bar, for Mother Nature Network. What is orange wine? The simple way to explain orange wine is that it’s white wine made like red wine. For white wine, the skins of white or red grapes are separated from the juice immediately. When red wines are made, the juice and the skins are left together for a time, imparting the color and the tannins from the skins, seeds and stems into the wine. Orange wine is made from the juice of white grapes that have contact with their skins for a time before fermenting, imparting an orange or amber tint to the wine. See Robin’s notes on a few of the “orange” or “amber” wines we import: Oil was what jumped out at me the first time I breathed in the scents of an orange wine — although I got motor oil, not linseed. Our host chose Piquentum Blanc’12 from Croatia made from the … Continue reading Orange wine isn’t what you think it is

#WineWednesday Spotlight #13: Štoka Teran Rosé Peneče

Born and raised in California, the hardest part of adjusting to life on the East Coast has been learning to love (ok – more like survive) the long, cold winters. Sipping on a glass of wine while soaking in a bubble bath I find does wonders. This past weekend as temperatures dipped down into the teens, I enjoyed a glass of Štoka Teran Rosé Peneče (Pet-Nat) 2014 with my bath. Because there are less bubbles in a Pet-Nat than Charmant or traditionally made sparkling wines, it makes for a more refreshing and easier to drink beverage. This gently sparkling Rosé is a little hazy in the glass, with a slightly salmon hue. The nose offers notes of wild strawberry, juniper berries and freshly baked brioche. I enjoyed my glass of Teran Rosé Peneče alone, but in Slovenia the Štoka family serves it alongside the air cured ham that hangs over their barrels in the cellar. Here’s to making it out of winter alive and in good spirits!

#WineWednesday Spotlight #11: Kabaj Cuvee Morel

Jean Michel Morel makes Bordeaux style reds in Slovenia with class and a quiet energy. Bordeaux varieties have existed in Goriška Brda, the region where Kabaj is located, just over the Italian border, for over 200 years. At only 15 miles from the Adriatic, Brda sees mild winters, an early spring, and an extended growing season. The extreme temperature differences between the Alps and the Sea, and their close proximity to each other, make wind in the area a constant phenomena, to the north an ideally situated ridge of limestone protects Brda from ‘Bora’, the worst of these. Brda’s prized hills of marl and flysch, are the hardened remains of an ancient limestone seabed, sculpted by the slow action of rain and river. Their steep slopes offer an infinite range of vineyard exposures and micro climates. The unique conditions of the region produce elegant wines that will age gracefully but drink beautifully today. Kabaj’s passion for his wines is evident in every bottle. Cuvée Morel 2009 is a Merlot-based Bordeaux style blend that is structured and serious, an hommage to Jean Michel’s native France. Could easily pass for right bank Bordeaux with plums, dusty leather, espresso, mild oregano in its aromatics. Palate is … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #11: Kabaj Cuvee Morel