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
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
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.
On the second day of our Kabaj visit we met a group of cheerful US tourists that were just starting a tour through Slovenia and Croatia. Their tour leader was Andrew Villone — a longtime friend of Blue Danube Wine Co. — who had just moved to Slovenia from Seattle with his Russian-born wife and two children to grow his Savor the Experience touring business. “I love it here,” he told me later that night as we were sipping our Cuvée Morel on the terrace. “Running Savor the Experience from Ljubljana is so much more convenient than from Seattle. And we don’t regret the big city. The life here is much better for my wife and my kids. Plus the schools in Slovenia are excellent.” We also talked about his plans to introduce special Blue Danube tours for wine and food lovers. The itineraries would be designed around visits to Blue Danube producers, where guests could enjoy exclusive wine tastings and food pairings. I thought this project could surely appeal to our customer community in the US. The group left the following morning — some still sleepy as they stayed until 3am in the Kabaj cellar with Jean-Michel! — in … Continue reading Savor the Experience Tours — and Blue Danube wines — with Andrew Villone
After landing at Venice’s Marco Polo Airport from San Francisco, we were less than 2 hours away from the Kabaj-Morel Guest House. The drive took us through the the Veneto flatlands until we reached the Friulian Hills and crossed seamlessly the Italian/Slovenian border. A few more kilometers driving through rolling hills of Brda and we were arrived at our destination: a deep yellow colored house glowing in the sunset, a large terrace overlooking small hilltop villages surrounded by vineyards and a big welcoming hug from Katja Kabaj. Jean-Michel was busy talking to other guests but suddenly he was in front of us: “Let’s go to the cellar, let’s taste some wine!” he said. And here we are in the cellar underneath the house, with a glass of of golden Tocai — as Friulano is still called in the region. Not a bad way to fight the jet lag! Jean — as his family calls him — is a force de la nature, larger than life. He works all day and then at night entertains his guests, sometimes until 3am! He makes his wines in his own image: intense and generous, in a no—compromise style: he will not play the ratings … Continue reading A memorable stay at the Kabaj Guest House
Historically vineyards have covered much of Slovenia’s countryside. In them you find grapes brought over the thousands of years of human movement. Coupled with the diversity of climate, topography, wine production methods, and localized taste, Slovenian wines are extremely different region to region. In the US we are largely unaware of this. Blue Danube Wine Co. — the company I am a part of — has been working for close to ten years to change this. For me wine is more than beverage, it is the ultimate lens to view Slovenia through. It is made in some of the country’s most beautiful locations, accompanies the best food, and attracts interesting people. Both those who make it and drink it. I return repeatedly to enjoy of course the wine but also the atmosphere, the cuisine and my friends there. It has taught me the value of returning to a destination. Slovenia is a place I would like to one day call a second home. For those who like to Travel Curious Often and want to learn more about Slovenia and its wines, read the full article here.
Are you a wine lover who is like me obsessed with George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire? Wine is a major theme in the series and is often associated with the most important plots: a wineseller attempts to poison Daenerys with a cask of of fine Arbor red; King Robert who only loved three things: war, women and wine, is mortally wounded by a boar while hunting drunk; at his wedding, Joffrey’s wine is poisoned and he dies after drinking from his wine goblet. Now, did you know that pairing wines with each of the 9 main houses of Westeros has become increasingly popular on the internet? Check this version based on regions and climates or this one based on wine labels and the houses’ sigils. And don’t miss the Game of Thrones Wine Map. So I couldn’t resist. Here is my Blue Danube version: House Stark The Starks are lean of build and long of face. They live in Winterfell in the North, a castle warmed by natural hot springs, evidence of some volcanic activity. Their wine is the 2011 Bott Csontos Furmint from the Tokaj region. The wine grows on volcanic slopes where the soil … Continue reading What if the Westeros Houses were drinking Blue Danube Wines?
Danubia is a border-less wineland situated geographically and philosophically between wine’s contemporary western position and its ancient Eastern origins. The mighty Danube River spans not just geography but also culture and time, defining landscape and the tastes of our Danubian wine loving predecessors. We dub it Danubia: unity through diversity. Nothing else in the world tastes like these wines. From steep terraced limestone vineyards overlooking the Adriatic, to basalt volcanoes whose wines once promised male progeny, to the world’s first classified vineyards where botrytis meets flor, these are the flavors of Danubia. Join us in DANUBIA and meet our fabulous winemakers that will be visiting the US this month: Grand Liquoreux Master Samuel Tinon will be presenting his remarkable Tokaji wines in New York. He will be joined by Skradin winemaker star Alen Bibić and natural wines pioneer Miha Batič, who will also visit Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. For the new Miloš generation, Ivan, Franica, and Josip, this will be their first US trip. They will bring their most respected Plavac wines to Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and finally New York. This will be a rare opportunity to armchair travel to Central … Continue reading The winemakers are coming, meet them in Danubia!
Finally! Some recent rainstorms and snow falling over the Sierra Nevada gave us a small peek at winter weather as well as cravings of cheese fondue accompanied by one of those crisp and mineral Alpine wines that go so well with hard cheese. But winter with its rich food is also a great time to expand our wine horizons argues Jon Bonné, wine columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. Beyond the Alps, he recommends exploring Slovenia, a country bordering the eastern section of the Alps as well as neighboring Hungary and Croatia. What the wines of these regions share, he writes, is “a bridge between that lean mineral cut of the mountains and the richness and exoticism of ripe, fleshy grapes.” These countries have been growing grapes for centuries and offer an incredible diversity of native grape varieties that are just coming to international awareness: spicy Furmint, the dominant grape in Tokaj, Muscat-like Irsai Olivér also from Hungary, crisp and floral Rebula, called Ribolla Gialla in nearby Friuli, aromatic Malvasia Istriana from the Istrian Peninsula at the north of the Adriatic sea, and many more. Check out Jon Bonné’s recommendations, you’ll find some of Blue Danube’s best selling wines: the … Continue reading The SF Chronicle: the whites of Central Europe are ideal wines for winter
Being able to meet the people, eat the local food, attempt the language, and imbue every glass of wine with first hand experiences is why we got into the wine business. Context makes everything taste better. Plus, once you’ve visited, every time you have a wine from that place you’re immediately transported back. With this in mind, everyone at Blue Danube is happy to announce a partnership with Savor The Experience Tours, a company that has been running small group tours to Slovenia and Croatia for the past 9 years. As a Blue Danube Supporter, you’ll get 11 nights of winery visits, special feasts, and olive oil while staying with family run B&B’s. And once you return, you’ll have a gift certificate with us to purchase the wines stateside and relive the whole thing over again with friends and family. This October, don’t miss this unique opportunity to meet with some of Blue Danube’s best producers: Kabaj, Piquentum, and Kogl. For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 206.529.4237.