Cracking Croatian Wine: A Visitor-Friendly Guide

After four years of deliberating and planning together, in May 2015, Charine Tan and Dr Matthew Horkey sold almost all of their possessions, dropped the comfort and security of their lucrative careers, and left Singapore to travel around the world. With a dream of building a location-independent business and to absorb the world’s lessons, they have explored over 50 wine regions and published four books (three of them are wine related) along the way. Cracking Croatian Wine: A Visitor-Friendly Guide is the third in a series of ‘Exotic Wine Travel’ books that they plan to author. They also share wine travel tips, videos, wine-related stories, and exciting finds from lesser-known wine regions on exoticwinetravel.com, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. When asked about the name ‘Exotic Wine Travel’, the duo explained that the problem with lesser-known wine regions and exotic wines is that, often, visitors bounce around a country swiftly and end up tasting some sub-standard local wines. Their experiences tend to be incidental and far from ideal. For that reason, Charine and Matthew aim to explore the unheralded wine regions of the world and introduce the readers to the best that those places have to offer. To achieve that, they … Continue reading Cracking Croatian Wine: A Visitor-Friendly Guide

BIBICh’s Feast

Alen Bibić presenting his white Debit A little more than a year ago, we were in Skradin, North Dalmatia, for a sumptuous multi-course tasting menu with wine pairing. The place was not a restaurant but BIBICh Winery where Chef Vesna Bibić crafts elaborate gourmet dishes carefully paired with the BIBICh wines of her husband Alen. Vesna’s food and Alen’s wines are now famous in the US since Anthony Bourdain filmed a segment of his famous show No Reservations at the winery. Smoked trout, cucumber and bean sprouts granité, tuna, black radish and spring onion, tuna marinated in squid ink with black lentils, and lovely snail on the grass. We were so lucky to experience such a meal ourselves! We started the dinner with a festive glass of BIBICh Brut paired with a smoked trout, cucumber and bean sprouts granité. Alen’s deliciously fresh Debit came with a slice of tuna on black radish topped with spring onion. I particularly loved the black tuna marinated in squid ink with black lentils. The rich, slightly briny flavors of the dish went particularly well with the complex R5 that was served with it. Skradin risotto covered with gold Another highlight of the meal was … Continue reading BIBICh’s Feast

Visiting Gotsa in Georgia

In September, I had the opportunity to go to Georgia on a tour for wine buyers. I was lucky enough to meet Beka Gotsadze of Gotsa and have one of the most quintessentially Georgian experiences of my entire trip. On the first night, we went to Gotsa Winery in the mountains above Tbilisi, greeted by a boisterous group comprised of winemaker, wife, dogs, and kids milling around a few old qvevri. We made our way to the cellar – first the upper room full of fermentation qvevri and then the lower room with the qvevri for aging – while Beka’s wife, Nina, gently teased him about his English (hers is perfect, of course). After tasting a mix of 2014 and 2015 vintages with cheese and bread provided to soak up the wine, we moved on to tasting what Beka likes to call his “experiments.” First, a Tsitska petillant naturel that was yeasty and rich with a lightness and acidity that was surprising, given it had just been bottled to finish off its fermentation. Then, some more Tsitska under flor in qvevri. And a few sips of 2015 Chinuri – bright, herbaceous and firmly tannic – to finish with before our … Continue reading Visiting Gotsa in Georgia

Istria, the new Tuscany

Olive tree groves, vineyard-dotted hills, truffles and medieval hilltop towns: we’re not describing Tuscany but Istria, a heart-shaped peninsula — the largest in the Adriatic Sea — located south of Trieste. Long ruled by the Venetians and later the Hapsburgs, it is now shared by three countries: the largest part (89%) is in Croatia, the northwestern part lies in Slovenia, and a very tiny portion belongs to Italy. While they both enjoy a rich food and wine culture and a beneficial Mediterranean climate, Tuscany and Istria are not completely similar: more than 80% of Tuscany’s production is in red wine while about 80% of the wine produced in Istria is white. Its most significant grape variety is Malvasia Istriana (also the second most important Croatian white grape after Graševina). This ancient grape is believed to have been introduced by the Venetians from Greece. Young Malvasia, simply vinified in stainless steel, produces fresh and crisp delicious wines, ideal partners for grilled sea bass, squid, sardines, and langoustines from the Adriatic. On the other hand, barrel aging and a few days of skin contact can produce a more full-bodied and age-worthy style, perfect accompaniment to Istrian pasta with truffle, black risotto, and … Continue reading Istria, the new Tuscany

Dalmatian Coast, Croatia: A Detox to Retox Adventure!

Stefani Jackenthal is an adventure travel & wine journalist. She likes to write about outdoor activities in wine regions, seeking out sporty, sipping travel destinations. Her latest article about her vacation in Dalmatia, was published in the Huffington Post. Her first producer visit was at Miloš Winery: Our first stop was Miloš Winery, a family-run operation near the Neretva River. Ivan Miloš, one of three winemakers, showed me around the winery and stone caves, explaining their dedication to organic methods and bio diversity. We continued our conversation at the wooden table in the cozy tasting room, as I sampled a handful of wines. I particularly enjoyed the premier Stagnum line, made from Plavac Mali grown on 35-year old vines. Wines spend several years in barrel and bottle before release. The Stagnum 2007 (released in 2015) pleased with chocolate covered cherries, menthol and restrained tannins. While, the Stagnum 2005 was a powerhouse with herbal red fruit aromas and holiday spice, stewed fruit full-body. At the end, Ivan pulled out 1994 Plavic Mali, preserved with a homemade Coravin. The 22-year old wine presented a beefy nose, delicate tannins and complex mocha medium body. It was surprisingly fresh and frisky. Read more about … Continue reading Dalmatian Coast, Croatia: A Detox to Retox Adventure!

Uncorking the Caucasus: Wines from Turkey, Armenia, and Georgia

In May 2015—after four years of deliberating and planning together—Charine Tan and Dr Matthew Horkey sold almost all of their possessions, dropped the comfort and security of their lucrative careers, and left Singapore to travel around the world with a dream of building a location-independent business and to absorb the world’s lessons. Driven by a common passion for wine, they ended up diverting all their attention and resources to the self-study of wine as they travelled through Western Europe, the Caucasus, ex-Yugoslavia, and Mexico. Uncorking the Caucasus is the first of a series of wine travel books that they will be writing. They also share wine travel tips, videos, wine-related stories, and exciting finds from lesser-known wine regions on their website exoticwinetravel.com. When prompted about the name “Exotic Wine Travel”, the duo explained that the problem with lesser-known wine regions and exotic wines is that too often, visitors bounce around a country swiftly and end up tasting some substandard, local wines. For that reason, Charine and Matthew aim to explore some of the lesser-known wine regions and introduce the readers to the best they have to offer with even some anecdotal insight into their peculiarity. This should encourage wine lovers … Continue reading Uncorking the Caucasus: Wines from Turkey, Armenia, and Georgia

Geoffrey Roberts Award for Vinologue Georgia, a new wine guide to the “cradle of wine”

In 2016, the Geoffrey Roberts Award, which commemorates the work of wine merchant Geoffrey Roberts and his lifelong interest in wine, went to Miquel Hudin, author of the Vinologue collection of enotourism books. Miquel applied for the award to help him create a comprehensive wine tourism guide to the up-and-coming wine region of Kakheti in Georgia with full winery and region profiles as well as hundreds of wine tasting notes. This will be Miquel’s 9th Vinologue book. Previous titles include Dalmatia, Empordà, Herzegovina, Menorca, Montsant, Priorat, and Stellenbosch. The award has helped fund the initial research but in order to complete this project, Miquel has also created a kickstarter. If you’re interested in the wines of Georgia and/or plan to visit the country, you can support this project or preorder the book at the Vinologue online shop.

The Wines and Revelations of Josip Brkic – A Visit to Brkic Winery in Bosnia & Herzegovina

Another contribution from our friend Marcy Gordon. Marcy is a freelance travel writer, who publishes in a variety of publications, and the Forbes Travel Guide Corespondent for Napa and Sonoma. In April, Marcy joined the Blue Danube Wine team for two weeks in Dalmatia, Croatia. ROAD TRIP SERIES: CROATIA/BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA Of course almost all winemakers are highly passionate about their craft no matter where they are from. But I found the people I met in Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina were deeply vested in their land and wines in an almost spiritual way. One of our first visits was to Brkic Winery in Citluk – Bosnia & Herzegovina. Josip Brkic is a shining example of a winemaker whose wines embody a philosophy that goes beyond mere passion for wine making. It’s a philosophy of life as well. The vineyards, grapes and wines are regarded as members of the family. We sat down to taste several of the Brkic wines and listen to Josip tell his story. Fifteen years ago Josip Brkic had an epiphany and it changed the course of his life and the trajectory of his wine making. While exhibiting at an Italian wine expo he learned about biodynamic … Continue reading The Wines and Revelations of Josip Brkic – A Visit to Brkic Winery in Bosnia & Herzegovina

#WineWednesday #53: Spotlight on Geyerhof’s Grüner Veltliners

Following the trace of Sisi, the beloved Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary, we crossed the Erzsébet híd (Elisabeth Bridge) in Budapest and drove up the Danube River to Vienna. Contrary to Budapest, the inner city of Vienna is not exactly on the Danube but borders the Danube Canal, a smaller arm of the river. But one of the most scenic stretches of the river can be experienced just an hour from Vienna, in the Wachau. It’s a UNESCO world heritage site that lies in the Danube Valley between the towns of Melk and Krems. Driving along the river, you can admire baroque towns and monasteries, quaint villages, ruins of medieval castles and steep terraced vineyards planted with Riesling and Grüner Veltliner. Facing Krems on the other side of the river is the small wine village of Oberfucha, home to the Maier family, who has been producing wines for 15 generations. We were welcomed by Ilse, her son Josef and his wife Maria. Baby Matthis, Maria and Josef’s new son, was still sleeping. First, Josef took us for a tour of the Kirchensteig (path to the church) vineyard just behind the house. While walking in the vineyard, Josef explained … Continue reading #WineWednesday #53: Spotlight on Geyerhof’s Grüner Veltliners

#WineWednesday #52: Spotlight on Samuel Tinon

It is Wine Wednesday and my family and I are in Tokaj, visiting Samuel and Mathilde Tinon. The day is sunny and warm, which is excellent news for the ripening of the grapes. Thanks to the rainfall we had two days ago, the soil has now the right moisture, which will allow the botrytis to develop on the berries: 2016 is going to be a good year! Samuel takes us to the famed Hatari vineyard up the hill with glasses and a bottle of dry Hatari Furmint 2015. The wine is rich and concentrated like the berries that we taste from the vines that has not been harvested yet, as they will be saved for the Aszú production. Back to the Tinons’ house, we’re greeted by Mathilde with 2 pitchers of fresh water and 2 bottles of dry and sweet Szamorodni. Both are exquisite wines with a unctuous texture and great complexity. The dry version leaves a taste of walnut and curry spices and is delicious with the pieces of Comté cheese that Mathilde has prepared. The sweet version is rich in sugar but perfectly balanced thanks to its acidity. Mathilde explains to us that sweet Tokaji shouldn’t be restricted … Continue reading #WineWednesday #52: Spotlight on Samuel Tinon