Teran is IRONic, because….

…it is grown in IRON rich soil called Terra Rossa and tastes of IRON. …though inky dark, Teran’s IRON cool character makes it a unexpectedly appropriate summer red. …while perfumed and pretty it is best suited to cured and chared rare meats. …Croatia has historic claim to the name Teran, but with their recent entrance into the EU, producers now have to find a new certainly less historic name for it. So, what is Teran? Italy, Slovenia and Croatia all produce wines called Teran (Terrano in Italy) that are related in both composition and form. In these three countries, the best examples classically come from patches of iron rich Terra Rossa soil that has significant influence on the wines. While there is a considerable variation in style among them, they relate to each other categorically. Intensely colored, they have typically more acid than tannin, though some extreme exceptions exist. They are ideally perfumed with brassy high toned fruit and an engaging medicinal/amaro edge that feels as nice as it smells. The sorts of grapes they are made from are related, but vary and are sensitive to the touch of the wine maker. We regularly find ourselves captivated by these wines, … Continue reading Teran is IRONic, because….

Blue Danube wines excell at Wine & Spirits 24th Annual Restaurant Poll

On May 1, 2013, Wine & Spirits Executive Editor Tara Q. Thomas organized a tasting of sommelier favorites from Eastern Europe for the Wine & Spirits 24th Annual Restaurant Poll. Watch the sommelier interviews that were conducted during the tasting and notice their enthusiasm for the wines: “These are wines with a sense of place, these are wines that tell a story of a remote region, and wines that make you travel, let’s say, imaginary travel while we’re drinking them.” shares Ciprian Toma from Domaine Wine Bar. Also note that several Blue Danube wines were among the sommelier favorites!

Silvo Črnko presents the 2012 Črnko Jareninčan

These humble liter bottles represent half of Črnko’s total production and until the 2009 vintage, had only been sold locally in the nearby village of Jarenina from where the wine takes its name. High toned Laski Riesling and Ravenec, aromatic Muscats, and a silty minerality characteristic of the estate define the 2012 vintage. During the summers in the village of Jarenina, locals mix it with sparkling water and then proceed to consume well into the next day.

Are orange wines the Kardashians of wine?

For a brief primer on “Orange Wines”, read this article by Richard Betts: Why Tecate Is Greater Than Orange Wine. Tart and pulpy, it strips the veneer of mystique off this totally misunderstood category of wine. First, it is important to point out that “Orange Wines” are not made out of oranges. They are white wines that are fermented on the skins like red wine, turning orange instead of red. Macerated white wine is the more appropriate term but what a unattractive name for a style. Not all “Orange Wines” are created equal; some are the product of tradition and experience and some are experiments. Success and failure exists among both schools but I do agree with Betts that most of them can go away. For me, they are too often plagued with any combination of over-extraction, oxidation, volatility, bacteria and sometimes things you can’t identify but do not enjoy. However, when they are right, they are right. Kabaj—mentioned as one of the exceptions in the article—is one of the masters. Subtlety, elegance, precision, texture, minerality, longevity define their wines. Since I will be there this time next week, now is a good moment to reaffirm my love of the … Continue reading Are orange wines the Kardashians of wine?

Why This Bottle Really? 2010 Kabaj Rebula

It was a nice surprise to find the 2010 Kabaj Rebula reviewed in the current issue of The Art of Eating. The Art of Eating is a quarterly publication that has nothing to do with these glossy food magazines that have more ads than recipes. It is instead all about telling stories that underscore the connection between traditions and the sense of place, stories about artisanal food and drinks and the people that make them. So in some way, this was not so surprising to find the Slovenian winery featured in the magazine. The Kabaj family has been farming vineyards on the terraced hills of Goriška Brda for generations but it is only in 1993 that Katja Kabaj and her French-born husband Jean-Michel Morel released their first vintage. Jean-Michel Morel, a Bordeaux-educated winemaker, proudly combines traditional winemaking—using some ancient techniques he studied in Georgia— with modern facilities built recently on the property. His approach is not to produce a fresh, crisp, fruit-driven international style. Instead, he vinifies his whites with long skin contact during maceration, goes through full malolactic fermentation on the lees, and ages them at least 12 months in large oak barrels. The article was written by Joe … Continue reading Why This Bottle Really? 2010 Kabaj Rebula

Grape Festival at the Slovenian Hall

What a memorable way to begin my career with Blue Danube! The other Saturday, Frank and I introduced some of Blue Danube’s current Slovenian portfolio at the Slovenian fair in San Francisco. It was both charming and informative discussing Slovenian wine with Slovenians. More than once did a Kabaj wine invoke a smile and a personal history. Cheerful strains of a Slovenian folk duo consisting of an accordion and a stringed fretted bass instrument echoed in the hall while some of the more free spirited Slovenians danced. The entertainment made for a great tasting atmosphere. The crowd favorite of the tasting was the Crnko Yellow Muscat. One of my favorite wines we were tasting was the Stoka Teran 2009-a fleet wine with an intense raspberry flavor, and touches of cinnamon and pepper. All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a more delightful introduction to Slovenian wine culture and Slovenian culture at large. Plus, now I know how well the Stoka Teran pairs with mushroom brie.

Out of the BLUE tasting in LA

Dear Friends of Blue Danube Wine, We are happy to invite you to “Out of the Blue” a casual impromptu pre-holiday trade only tasting. Thanks to your support the Blue Danube Wine Co. portfolio is evolving. We are delving into regions, varieties and styles that demand further study and that the market has shown a taste for. Monday September 17th we will present our deepest selection of wines from Croatia and Slovenia as well as all wines which are now available in our TAKE 5 sales promotion. At this tasting we will pour the wines of ten leading estates. Some of them see their first premiere in the U.S., many are the new vintages which just arrived. This is a rare opportunity to taste them in a comprehensive line-up. SLOVENIA: Batic, Kabaj, Kogl, Crnko, and Stoka CROATIA: BIBICh, Coronica, Piquentum, Terzolo, Dingac Winery We’re sure you will enjoy exploring our expanding portfolio. Please see attached invitation. Thank you for your interest, we hope to see you at the tasting! Cheers, Frank, David, and Michael (and Stetson from New York) Bacaro LA 2308 South Union Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90007 good parking on surrounding streets Monday September 17th 2012 – 12pm-4pm Light … Continue reading Out of the BLUE tasting in LA

Alphabet City Wine Co. Photon Torpedos and Rebula

After 3 weeks of Friday nights at Alphabet City Wine Co finishing with my #2 East Coast tasting, I need a break. These guys don’t just sell wine, they use it. They drink it, they share it, they drink it, they sell it, drink some more, share some more, then close the shop to head over to Edi and the Wolf for more of the same. Its fun, but brutal. Party aside, manager and co-owner Keith Beavers talks about wine with the same hurried enthusiasm as a 12 year old geeking out on Star Wars (Keith’s second passion). Late night while gulping Črnko – Jareninčan with Keith, I compared the wine to Princess Lea and that was that, we were doing a tasting, next week in fact. Keith was not present due to an emergency research trip to study pina coladas in Mexico. Luckily his debaucherous Muay Thai trained, photographer/romeo/assistant-manager Ben Kaufman, pictured drinking from the bottle, was on hand to hold down the fort. We poured a really challenging line up that included the Crnko, the 09 Kabaj Rebula and the Dingač Vinarija – Pelješac. Initially I saw no apparent way to line up these 3 aromatically and texturally … Continue reading Alphabet City Wine Co. Photon Torpedos and Rebula

Kudos for Kabaj, Kogl, and Batič

Wine & Spirits Magazine recently published excellent reviews of our Slovenian producers Kabaj, Kogl, and Batič: 91 Points Kabaj 2006 Goriška Brda Cuvée Morel: Winemaker Jean-Michel Morel bases this blend on merlot (60 percent) along with cabernets sauvignon and franc and a small amount of petit verdot. But it is not merlot-easy. The musky scent and potent, gravelly tannins made it austere, a powerful, chewy red that needs bottle age. Already sophisticated, with a bit of a swagger in its personality, this is built to cellar. 91 Points Kabaj 2009 Goriška Brda Ravan: Ravan is another name for zeleni sauvignon, which is [tokaj] friulano across the border in Friuli. This one is golden in color and massively fruity, balancing its grassy passionfruit flavors with a clean, tense line of acidity. It ends on a smoky note. A match for roast partridge. 88 Points Kabaj 2009 Goriška Brda Rebula (Best Buy): Deep gold in color and smoky in its scent, this wine focuses on lees and tannins, holding juicy apple flavors underneath. The structure lends it a pleasing textual roundness, finishing firm, almost gruff. For braised dark meat chicken. 92 Points Kabaj 2007 Goriška Brda Amphora: Fermented as whole berries in … Continue reading Kudos for Kabaj, Kogl, and Batič

Insight and imagery: a photographer and her husband visit Slovenia and Croatia for the first time

San Fransisco based freelance photographer Robin Jolin has expertly documented a number of Blue Danube Wine Co events. Usually asking for payment in wine, we have watched her interest grow beyond the glass. Robin and her husband Jarred made their first trip to Middle Europe this past April. They spent two weeks wandering between the Slovenian/Italian border and the Island of Krk visiting wine producers and absorbing the hospitality, culture, olive oil, truffles, and most of all wine. The photographs are Robin’s, the words are Jarred’s. Read and view with caution, or risk an impulse purchase of a plane ticket to Ljubljana. Stetson: Beforehand what were your expectations of this trip?Jerred: We expected to experience a beautiful foreign land with the freedom a rented, compact automobile offers, all the while remaining well-fed on delicious, local fare and wine varietals, and to meet a small cross section of those responsible for creating these delectable treats. One aspect of traveling through this part of the world that we didn’t expect was the hospitality offered us by the winemakers we visited. Although strangers they treated us like important guests, providing us with anything necessary to keep us satiated. Another aspect we didn’t expect … Continue reading Insight and imagery: a photographer and her husband visit Slovenia and Croatia for the first time