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

#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