#WineWednesday Spotlight #1: 2011 Kabaj Ravan

New feature on our blog! Every week a Blue Danubian will highlight his or her favorite wine of the moment. Starting things off is Tom, our newest sales guy in the San Francisco Bay Area: Conformity, regularity, status quo, etc. Call it what you will, these terms have again and again been stricken from my vocabulary. Rather than going “by-the-book”, I have always chosen to pursue the road less traveled, even if it sometimes led to learning things the hard way. For exactly this reason, I was delighted to meet winemaker Jean-Michel Morel of Kabaj (Ka-BUY) Winery in Slovenia. He truly embodies the spirit of being an expat, leaving his native France to create an entirely different style of wine in a country that has been underestimated in terms of its wine production (especially compared to the juggernaut that is France). He’s a no-nonsense kind of guy. He knows what he likes, he knows what he doesn’t, and his brutal honesty is perfectly balanced and underscored by his charming personality. This aspect of his personality is reflected in his skin contact wines, which offer an unusually grippy and full-bodied mouthfeel supported by subtle undertones playing a back-up role. Mention the … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #1: 2011 Kabaj Ravan

Forget Red, White, and Rosé—Orange Wine Is What You Should Be Sipping This Fall

Fashion alert! “Orange” wine is in for fall says Carson Demmond for Vogue Magazine. Five years ago marked the entrance of “orange wine”—an obscure category that has stirred some very vocal proponents and riled some very vocal detractors—into the international wine scene. Though the style has been produced for quite some time, the “orange” description was purportedly coined in 2004 by a U.K.-based wine importer who encountered a bottle in winemaker Frank Cornelissen’s cellar in Sicily. It refers to certain white wines (yes, they’re made from white grapes) that fall somewhere on the color spectrum of fall foliage. Their flavors also have great autumnal appeal, since many can be downright and broodingly earthy. This style of winemaking, which involves extended periods of skin maceration, is very traditional in some countries like Slovenia and the Republic of Georgia. The article suggests a few must try wines for fall, including one from Kabaj, a winery we have worked with for some time now. 2011 Kabaj Rebula Goriška Brda, Slovenia Since very little has been written on the ancient methods, Kabaj’s winemaker—Jean-Michel Morel—opted to study at a Georgian monastery to fine-tune his craft. This rebula (the Slovenian name for Italy’s ribolla) ferments with … Continue reading Forget Red, White, and Rosé—Orange Wine Is What You Should Be Sipping This Fall

A Danubian Thanksgiving

In preparation for this year’s holiday we have shared our favorite wines sourced from along the Danube river to enhance your celebrations. All of these wines are distinct in their own way but sure to pair beautifully with everything on your holiday table 2011 Kabaj Rebula $26.95 I first learned of the significance of cranberry sauce to the Thanksgiving table while skating on frozen cranberry bogs in Massachusetts with my then young children. I’ve since traded the bogs for the backyard orange trees of California. The best cranberry sauce is a simple and quick relish made with fresh cranberries, freshly-squeezed orange juice, peels, and sugar. No wonder the orange Kabaj Rebula wine from Slovenia pairs so well with that dish! Falling somewhere between a white and red, the wine has intense tannins contrasting with a funky, spicy orange-blossom aroma. It has excellent minerality, and a very enjoyable rich long finish. No need to switch to red for me. This wine is a perfect match for the Thanksgiving table for the recognized 100 Top Winery of 2015!” — Eugénie Cabot 2014 Martinčič Cviček $14.95 In the interest of eating and drinking for as long as possible on Thanksgiving, Cviček (Tsvee-check) is … Continue reading A Danubian Thanksgiving

“Great Wines from Slovenia” by Now And Zin Wine

Last month we had the privilege of hosting Jean-Michel from the Kabaj Winery for a few action packed weeks. Jean was here primarily to attend the Wine & Spirits Top 100 Wineries event in San Francisco. Kabaj Winery, located in Goriška Brda, Slovenia, was listed as a Top 100 Winery for the second time. To celebrate this achievement we arranged a number of events throughout California and New York. One such event was a reception at hot new restaurant Hatchet Hall in Culver City. Wine blogger Randy Fuller, who writes Now and Zin Wine, was able to join us, and has now graciously allowed us to repost his blog post about the event here for you! Many thanks, Randy! Trust Your Importer – Great Wines From Slovenia Blue Danube Wines is one of those importers you want to check in with from time to time. For those who don’t have an extensive knowledge of wines from countries other than the US, a good importer is a good thing to know. Importers tend to find the wines they like, and bring them home to the rest of us. So, if Slovenia, for instance, or some other Central European country catches your … Continue reading “Great Wines from Slovenia” by Now And Zin Wine

Champagne’s Cooler Cousin: 5 Pét-Nat Sparkling Wines to Try Now

Vogue magazine knows that pét-nat is so hot right now. See this recent article by Kristin Tice Studeman on “Champagne’s Cooler Cousin”. So what is pét-nat exactly? It’s a natural sparkling wine, made from red or white grapes, bottled during the primary fermentation process. This means the wine reflects the natural sugars from the grapes and the native yeasts, so the result can vary quite a bit…In short, pét-nat is a whole lot of fun because you never quite know exactly what you are going to get, except that it will be light, effervescent, and easy drinking (it is typically low in alcohol). One of the five recommended pét-nats to try now, according to restaurateur Joe Carroll, is Štoka Bela (Vitovska) Peneče from Slovenia: “I think that’s one of my favorite wine regions in the world; they are doing some very exciting things right now,” says Carroll of Slovenia. This particular wine, from the Štoka Winery in Kras (near the Slovenian-Italian border), comes from an iron-rich terroir. The resulting wine is a little more acidic and high in minerality than most of the pét-nats on this list. Overall, its also one of the more straightforward offerings here.” Read the whole … Continue reading Champagne’s Cooler Cousin: 5 Pét-Nat Sparkling Wines to Try Now

The fall wines nobody will be asking for but everyone will be happy you poured

It was finally cold enough this morning to start thinking about sweaters and heaven forbid a beanie after a seemingly nine month summer. There are also a few wines that have been waiting for the weather to change as well. Namely, from the Istrian Peninsula where Italy, Croatia and Slovenia all meet along the Adriatic. I also added something from the Posavje and the Kras regions for good measure (both less than 2 hours by car). As the seasonal and justifiable urge to reach for Cru Beaujolais, white Burgundy, white Rhone, Cab Franc, Champagne and Riesling etc… grow closer, the following wines offer an equally justifiable transition to something new. Acid, salt, smoke, earth, tart fruits and bubbles can all be found here, they are just hiding in different places and complimented by flavors unique to this little slice of the Northern Adriatic. Moreno Coronica 2013 Coronica Gran Malvasia Istriana, Istria, Croatia The history of the indigenous variety Malvasia Istriana dates back to possibly before the Venetians. Over 30 types are still grown around the Mediterranean. Moreno Coronica’s Malvasia is considered a benchmark in Istria. In lieu of Garrigue, Croatians champion ‘Freškina’ (sent of the sea). Imagine the smell of … Continue reading The fall wines nobody will be asking for but everyone will be happy you poured

Wines from Central and Eastern Europe are turning American heads

Check the story called “East goes West — Wines from Central and Eastern Europe are turning American heads” in the latest issue of Imbibe Magazine. With interviews of Jeff Berlin, sommelier at À Côté, Michelle Polzine, owner of 20th Century Cafe, Paul Einbund, wine director for Frances and Octavia in San Francisco, Henry Beylin, sommelier of Los Angeles’ Gjelina, and our own Frank Dietrich, wine writer Jennifer Fiedler explores how wines from Central and Eastern Europe—what she calls the older Old World—are steadily making their way westward to some of the best restaurants’ wine lists. Twenty years ago, a Plavac Mali or Rebula would have been a rare find on an American wine list of any stature, much less at a tiny local bistro or neighborhood wine shop. But what began as a small trickle of quality Central and Eastern European wine into U.S. markets—a Hungarian dry Furmint here, a Georgian Saperavi there—has gradually grown to a steady stream, buoyed by support from dedicated importers, enthusiastic sommeliers, and a public eager to explore wines outside of the traditional canon. “[These wines] are very unique, and very expressive of where they come from,” says Jeff Berlin, sommelier at À Côté in … Continue reading Wines from Central and Eastern Europe are turning American heads

Kabaj is a Wine & Spirits Top 100 Winery 2015

Wine & Spirits Magazine has listed Kabaj in Goriška Brda, Slovenia one of the Top 100 Wineries in the world for 2015, an honor the winery also received in 2013. We hope that you will try a few of winemaker Jean-Michel Morel’s wines for yourself and join us at one of the events planned during his visit! Meet Jean-Michel Morel in LA, SF, NY October 17 2015: Lou Wine Shop & Tastings 1911 Hillhurst Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90027 Saturday, 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm October 18 2015: Silverlake Wine 2395 Glendale Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90039 Sunday, 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm October 20 2015: Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting City View At Metreon, 135 4TH ST, San Francisco, CA 94103 Tuesday, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm October 21 2015: Wine Dinner at SPQR 1911 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115 Wednesday — call (415) 771-7779 for reservation October 24 2015: Tasting at Dandelion Wine 153 Franklin St, Brooklyn, NY 11222 Saturday — Time to be determined October 25 2015: Hudson Wine Merchants 41 Warren St, Hudson, NY 12534 Sunday, 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm October 26 2015: Producer Night with Kabaj at The Ten Bells 247 Broome St, … Continue reading Kabaj is a Wine & Spirits Top 100 Winery 2015

Georgia and Kabaj

“I like extreme life and extreme wine. No fancy hotel rooms, commercial style: this is not our life.” Jean-Michel Morel “Orange wine” has been recognized by US sommeliers and fine wine shops for more than 10 years, but has only recently become part of the wine drinker’s vocabulary. For the un-initiated, “orange wine” is not made of oranges. Its ancient production began in present day Georgia, which happens to be where Neolithic humans first domesticated Vitis Vinifera in pursuit of more and better wine. Historically, white grapes and red grapes were processed similarly: crush grapes, add to container, ferment, drink. Like red wine, “orange wine” can range from delicate to strong. This depends on the type of grape, the length of maceration, amount of oxygen, temperature of fermentation and so on, just like with red wine. Some “orange wines” are not actually that orange in color, making the term a little misleading. “Orange wine” is just wine in the Republic of Georgia between the Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea, and Slovenia and Croatia between the Alps and Adriatic. Both areas are typified by their varied topography, climate, abundance of biological diversity and diverse native wines. In the early 90’s, … Continue reading Georgia and Kabaj

Chill out with Črnko Jareninčan

TheStreet lists Črnko Jareninčan in their top 10 wines to “Chill out in August” with, written by David Marcus. Silvio Črnko says in this video (see below) that he drinks his Jarenincan white blend every day, and who can blame the man from Stajerska, Slovenia, just across the border from Austria? A blend of several white grapes, it has a charming nose of flowers and orange peel and a nice crispness on the palate. You’ll enjoy it so much that you won’t worry about what to pair it with. See the full list here. We are currently sold out of this wine in our webstore but more will be coming!