Wine & Spirits “Red Value Wine of the Month”: Santomas Refošk Liter

Wine & Spirits magazine recently reviewed Santomas LNG Refošk Liter, one of our bestselling wines, and named it the “Red Value Wine” winner for the month of July! 2014 Slovenska Istra Ludvik Nazarij Glavina Refosk:  A terrific bargain and great introduction to refošk, this bright and juicy wine shows lovely aromas of violets and spices, with brambly black raspberry flavors and a light meaty note. Serve with pork shoulder. 89 points -Stephanie Johnson Our notes: LNG are the initials for Ludvik Nazarij Glavina who reestablished the Santomas estate in 1997. It is primarily composed of fruit harvest from younger vines. Despite its tremendous value and liter volume it is made entirely from grapes they grow that undergo the same rigorous selection.The easiest drinking of the Refošk Santomas produces, it remains distinctly Refošk. At once nimble and deep. Forest fruit is accented by a spicy Mediterranean twang. It’s a light but highly expressive, surprisingly complex wine. Bottles like this are customarily consumed with local ham (Pršut) that benefits from the dry “Bora” wind which imparts the same savory notes found in the wine, but is quite versatile elsewhere; even with some seafood. The fact that it comes bottled by liter only … Continue reading Wine & Spirits “Red Value Wine of the Month”: Santomas Refošk Liter

Emerging Wine Regions: Slovenia

Bottlenotes latest Regional Spotlight is on Slovenia, a small country with a rich winemaking culture. Slovenia’s climate is ideal for grape growing–its neighbors are some of the best winemaking regions in the world: Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Italy. The climate changes dramatically as you travel from north to south. The vineyards on Slovenia’s northern border with Austria survive cold chills from the Alps, while the southern regions bathe in Mediterranean sun and sea breezes. The best wines from Slovenia are white, and each of the three major wine regions has its specialties. Read more about the major regions and grape varieties here. Browse all our Slovenian wines.

Todd Smith of DOSA pairs Indian flavors with Croatian, Slovenian, Hungarian, and Georgian Wines

Todd Smith, wine director for DOSA South Indian restaurants in San Francisco, shares some of his wine pairing discoveries in this interview conducted by Lauren Sloss for Culintro. LS: What’s been the most surprising (and delicious!) pairing that you’ve found? TS: Maybe the first time I properly chilled a Plavac Mali from the Pelješac in Croatia and was super surprised and how it really coaxed out the tropical notes in a Kerala Fish Moilee — a coconut-based curry from the Southwest Coast of India. Todd continues: There are some regions that produce amazing wines, but their economies are struggling and/or their operating costs are so low that they offer top-flight wines for a fraction of the cost of certain unnamed wine producing regions. This is why I love countries with a wine industry such as Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Hungary, Georgia (mostly!)… Read the whole interview here.

Follow the Liter

Whether you are hosting a dinner party or need the perfect wine for a lazy day at the beach, a liter bottle is the answer. Think about it: it’s 33% more wine! Not only does this format provide more volume, it is also greener for the environment and the wines tend to be low in alcohol, refreshing, and alarmingly easy to drink. As the 1-Liter trend is getting more and more popular, we have now quite a collection of liters from several countries and a dizzying array of grape varieties. Our newest 1 Liter: the 2013 Pfneisl Blaufränker Rather than make wine with their father and uncles who run the well established family estate in Austria, Birgit and Katrin Pfneisl decided to farm their ancestral vines In Sopron, Hungary, where Blaufränkisch is Kékfrankos and Pfneisl is Pfneiszl. Organic farming, old vines and wild fermentation all contribute to the finesse of their wines. Their Kékfrankos has always been more Blaufränkisch than most Blaufränkisch so we were happy to discover Birgit and Katrin’s increasing involvement in the Austrian estate and immediately taken with the results. Blaufränker is that wine: a collaborative wine project between Blue Danube Wine Co and the Pfneisl sisters, … Continue reading Follow the Liter

What Is “Pét-Nat,” Really?

We are excited to introduce three new Slovenian “Pét-Nat’s” from Štoka. But what is “Pét-Nat” you may ask? In essence, it is an old method for producing gently sparkling wines that has become popular again. This article written by Zachary Sussman for Punch really describes the process and how it originated. As a form of fermentation, the technique pre-dates the so-called Champagne method by a couple centuries, at least in those areas of France—like Gaillac, Limoux and Bugey—where it has historically been practiced. Unlike the Champagne method, which enacts a secondary fermentation by adding sugar and yeast, the ancestral method allows the initial fermentation to finish in bottle without any additives, imparting a gentle carbonation by trapping carbon dioxide. Read the rest of the article here. Try the new Pét-Nat’s, or Peneče in Slovenian: Štoka Bela (Vitovska) Peneče 2014 Štoka Rosé Peneče 2014 Štoka Teranova Peneče 2014

Revenge of the Wine Spritzer

While you may not be able to recall the last time you encountered a wine spritzer, the beverage is quite popular in many countries. In fact throughout most of Eastern Europe you will find that adding a touch of sparkling water to wine is just as common as drinking wine on its own. Why? First off, wine plays a different role in Eastern European cultures than it does in the West. On this difference Stetson Robbins of Blue Danube Wines says “they view wine as less precious. It’s just part of the table, like bread. I think in Central and Eastern Europe this quality is even stronger.” Well, there you have it. Read the rest of this article by Wine Awesomeness here. In Slovenia, a popular wine for a spritzer is Črnko Jareninčan which will be back in stock soon. Or try the article’s suggestion and add a little spritz to Georgian Saperavi. This fresh style by Schuchmann will do the trick.

It’s Time To Give Rosé The Respect It Deserves

Rosé is no longer a sweet, uninspiring wine to drink as was often the case in past generations. More and more people are discovering the diversity of rosé and the wine is enjoying renewed popularity. A younger generation of vinophiles are increasingly embracing the pink stuff, and more and more winemakers are producing rosé to keep up with its rising popularity. According to Nielsen, rosé sales in the US grew 25.4 percent last year. Continue reading this article by Lauren Gitlin for the NY Post, where our Štoka Teran rosé is recommended as one to “drink now”. Vine Wine owner Talitha Whidbee says,”It’s refreshing and delicious but it has enough weight and structure to hold up to some winter foods. I took it home and had it with chicken and tomatoes baked with feta.”

Visit a Winery: Kabaj in Goriška Brda, Slovenia

The Region The border between Northeast Italy, and Western Slovenia runs from the Alps to the Adriatic Sea, dividing a terroir important to both. Known as ‘Collio’ in Italy, and ‘Brda’ in Slovenia, their shared meaning is ‘hills’. Due to its proximity to both the Alps and the Adriatic sea, Brda enjoys climate conditions most favorable for growing vines as well as cherries, peaches, apricots, pears, apples, figs, plums, and olives. Winters are mild and summers can be hot. Cool northeast winds help remove humidity and mildew in the vineyards. The region is known for white varieties such as Rebula, Sauvignonasse (formerly Tocai Fruilano), Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and Sauvignon Blanc as well as international reds like Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The Winery Winemaker Jean-Michel Morel is originally from France but after meeting his wife Katja Kabaj in a nearby Italian winery, decided to relocate to Slovenia and rebuild the Kabaj family estate. Jean-Michel, a Wine & Spirits Magazine 100 Wineries winner in 2013, makes world-class wines using local varieties and winemaking techniques. His skin-macerated white wines including Rebula (known as ‘the queen of Brda’), Ravan (an old local name for the grape formerly known as Tocai Friullano) and Sivi … Continue reading Visit a Winery: Kabaj in Goriška Brda, Slovenia

12 Exciting Wine Regions You’ve Never Heard Of

Wine Enthusiast Magazine has a new article called 12 Exciting Wine Regions You’ve Never Heard Of. We import wines from 4 of them: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, and Slovenia. We think they should have mentioned Georgia, too! On Slovenia: “Nestled within the crossroads of the Alps and the Mediterranean, Slovenia produces some of the most exciting wines in Central Europe. Since the fall of communism, much of Slovenia’s wine production has returned to small, family-owned operations, where individualism and experimentation have taken center stage. —Anna Lee Iijima, ratings by Jeff Jenssen” Batič 2007 Valentino Sweet Red Merlot-Cabernet Franc (Vipavska Dolina); $60/375 ml, 90 points. Kabaj 2008 Cuvée Morel Red (Goriska Brda); $46, 90 points. Sanctum 2011 Chardonnay (Štajerska); $17, 90 points. Štoka 2011 Izbrani Teran (Kras); $23, 90 points. On Hungary: “With 160,000 acres dedicated to vineyards, white wine accounts for 70% of Hungary’s total production. Beloved by Thomas Jefferson and Russian czars alike, the country’s strikingly floral, lusciously fruity wines are traditionally a blend of Tokaji grapes: Furmint, Hárslevelű and varieties of Muscat. Not unlike other botrytis-affected wines like Sauternes, Tokaji is one of the wine world’s best-kept secrets, boasting the ability to age for decades. —Anna Lee Iijima, ratings … Continue reading 12 Exciting Wine Regions You’ve Never Heard Of

The Epic Eastern European Getaway

One of the greatest aspects about wine is its ability to transport the drinker to another place. It is possible to learn something new about a foreign culture, language, and landscape simply by popping open a different bottle. This feeling of discovery is one that Wine Awesomeness, online-based curated wine club, tries to share with their members. Last month, Wine Awesomeness chose to focus on six of our wines from five different regions: Hungary, Slovenia, Georgia, Croatia, and Austria. Now they have joined forces with Savor the Experience Tours to award a few lucky winners an actual Blue Danube Wine Tour. View the itinerary and make sure to enter the sweepstakes to win an all-inclusive food & wine tour and spend a luxury laden week in Slovenia and Croatia. Sip, sightsee, and visit vineyards and villages on us! Enter now – an epic Eastern European vino vacation awaits – courtesy of @bluedanubewine and @wineawesomeness. Contest starts March 1st and we’ll have the honor to announce the winners towards the end of the month.