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!

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.