Countdown to MARKET TASTING NYC – after the show

Market Tasting NYC at Terroir Tribeca went off without a hitch. For those who could not be there, it was a blast and we missed you! Center stage Tokaji/Somlo wowed and dazzled, to oooohs, aaahhs and the odd exclamatory foot stomp. Part of the Blue Danube Wine Co. mission is to see the greatness of these historic regions realized again. These precious few samples were an important step. To all the producers who sent them, you rule. As do all the other producers wines who were poured. All together this was one of the finest events we have participated in and it would not be possible without your wines! A special thanks to co-host Indie Wineries, made us feel like family.

Somló – Wines of the Volcano Gods

If you type “Somló, 8481 Doba, Hungary” into Google Earth, you will virtually hover over an irregular oval in a sea of quadrilaterals. For those who have forgotten geometry, Somló hill and the vineyards circling its flanks look just like what they are: a long-extinct volcano rising from a flat patchwork of otherwise angular fields.It is a striking geological formation, about three-quarters of a mile in diameter, whose combination of ancient seabed and volcanic basalt soils set Somló apart as a uniquely white-wine region—and the only dedicated region whose wines more than hold their own with the better-known whites of Tokaj. At Blue Danube’s recent trade tasting in Manhattan, I had the opportunity to sample six Somló wines from two producers. The grape varieties are familiar from Tokaj, to the east—Furmint, Hárslevelű, Olaszrizling (Welschriesling)—with the addition of the rare Juhfark, which grows only in Somló. The two producers, Fekete Béla and Spiegelberg, are clearly different in style. Also, the Furmints are notably lighter and leaner than the Tokaj examples I tasted, and are higher in acidity and minerality, a trend I suspect would extend to the other varieties equally. Fekete Bela The trio of wines made by Mr. Fekete are … Continue reading Somló – Wines of the Volcano Gods

Countdown to MARKET TASTING NYC III

Today is Blue Danube Wine Co.’s break-out NY Trade debut at Terroir Tribeca. Too close for comfort, all the samples have arrived. Were it not for Zsuzsa’s hard work, Fed-Ex and customs would have never known how bad we needed these wines! Double luck: Frank Dietrich swang by JFK via SFO to pick up the J and J Eger Kekefrankos we were also waiting on! That means all our samples have arrived on time for the tasting. We are so proud to be a part of this vinous cultural process and so excited to share (drink) these wines we love so much. You soon will too! NYC, here we come!! Tokaji—Eden Abandoned—No region has impressed us at Blue Danube Wine Co. as the volcanic hills of Europe’s first protected wine region, Tokaj-Hegyalja. It is to us what Burgundy is to others. A chain of 400 volcanoes of impossible geological and microclimatological complexity, a long history as a wine region and a plethora of indigenous varieties and styles of wine, we can’t get enough of it. Some say there is a wine renaissance underway in Tokaj today; we are inclined to agree. All our samples have finally arrived from Hungary! Bodrog … Continue reading Countdown to MARKET TASTING NYC III

Countdown to MARKET TASTING NYC II

In honor of Blue Danube Wine Co.’s break-out NY Trade debut at Terroir Tribeca this coming Thursday, we plan to introduce a bunch of ultra special Hungarian wines that are being air freighted to NY as we speak. Days away, we are all wondering: will they make it in time??! The Jury is out, but the good news is that the 2nd of 4 deliveries has just arrived! Will the others make it? Hard to say! Let the count down begin, 2!! Here is a sneak peak: We, Blue Danubians, are accustomed to remarks noting the exotic names and natures of the varieties we source, so to praise the likes of a grape as common as Pinot Noir feels quite strange to us! Occasionally a wine demands it though. Vylyan Pinot Noir is possibly the most decorated wine in Hungary: awards and accolades cover the bottle like the pins of a military general. Vylyan planted Pinot Noir vines where fog gathers and grapes ripen slowly, in a belly button shaped depression smack dab in the middle of Villány, Hungary—basically their Cabernet country. It should be illegal to invoke Burgundy when talking about Pinot Noir that is not actually Burgundian, but … Continue reading Countdown to MARKET TASTING NYC II

Countdown to MARKET TASTING NYC I

In honor of Blue Danube Wine Co.’s break-out NY Trade debut at Terroir Tribeca this coming Thursday, we plan to introduce a bunch of ultra special Hungarian wines that are being air freighted to NY as we speak. Days away, we are all wondering: will they make it in time??! The Jury is out, but the good news is that the 1st of 4 deliveries has just arrived! Will the others make it? Hard to say! Let the count down begin, 3!! Here is a sneak peak: Little appellation, big WINES Millions of years ago, Somló, Hungary’s smallest appellation, was an underwater volcano. Now dormant, its southerly slopes of ancient sea sediment and basalt are home to some of Hungary’s steepest, most densely planted vineyards. Minutely divided, these rarely trellised parcels of vines are workable only by hand. The cellars and size of the production are also the smallest in Hungary, and again worked by hand. Somló’s exclusively white wines are typically made from Hárslevelű, Furmint, Olaszrizling, or the local rarity Jufark. The soil really “gets into the wines” and they are among the most distinctive wines we have ever encountered; aromas lean towards dried fruits, dried herbs and rare … Continue reading Countdown to MARKET TASTING NYC I

Hungary Comes To Bed Stuy

Brooklyn, New York’s biggest borough, is home to an ever-growing population of thirsty people. Young and old, all races, everyone is thirsty not only for good wine, but new food and wine experiences. Michael Brooks of Bed Vyne, Bed Stuy’s new boutique and community wine store, is well aware of this. Once a month he puts on an event to celebrate food, wine and art. The two event spaces adjacent to the small store are transformed into a gallery featuring a local artist (check out Juan Carlos Pinto‘s mixed media metro card portraits) along with tables of food from local restaurants and wine from the distributors that supply the store. For $5 attendees get a go-vino cup and are let loose in the maze of delicious flavors. Now that’s the way to do an in-store tasting! This past week I poured two of our Hungarian stars, Patricius Dry Furmint and Torley Fortuna. A bit nervous to be the only one pouring wines no one had heard of in a neighborhood that just recently opened their first wine store, my table turned out to be the hit of the party! The slight richness and creamy finish of the Furmint matched perfectly … Continue reading Hungary Comes To Bed Stuy

Batič & Kabaj visiting NYC, PHX, LA & SF

Jean-Michel and Tomo of Kabaj – Miha Batič. We are pleased to announce the visit of two Slovenian wine makers in California in May: Miha Batič represents a pioneering organic estate in Vipava Valley. Jean-Michel Morel and Tomo Čeh come from Kabaj in Goriška Brda. Kabaj is reknowned for their unique Amphora and long maceration wines. Meet them at one of the many events we are planning. You can read the full schedule on the new community site Slovenes in USA. Please welcome Jean Michel of Kabaj when he makes his 1st step into an American Wine Bar: Terroir NY Tribeca, Thursday, May 12, 1-4pm. Jean will pour a selection of his finest wines for trade & media. R.S.V.P. required. On his trip from New York to Los Angeles Kabaj will meet and work with two James Beard Award nominees: The first is Chairman Paul Grieco of Terroir NY who was nominated for Excellence in Wine Service. We are very happy that Paul graciously agreed to host Kabaj for his first ever tasting in the United States at his renowned wine bar in Tribeca. The trade mark logo of Terroir NY. It is an honor that the first wine dinner … Continue reading Batič & Kabaj visiting NYC, PHX, LA & SF

Evening at Vinárna Bokovka

Our choice of bottle for the evening. Prague has fully opened up as a tourist destination over the last decade or so. The country that was literally joined at the hip with Slovakia has come in to its own for those seeking the almighty “safe” destination to holiday in the formerly scary Eastern Europe. Naturally, Prague is better known for its light, easy to drink, yet delicious beers. But, with the influx of tourists has come the rise of the wine bar. There are a good many around the city including Le Terroir, Cellarius, Viniční Altán, and Bandol. But, the one that really caught my attention was Vinárna Bokovka. Outside Bokovka For starters, this wine bar is only a wine bar. A great many of the others moonlight as restaurants or vice versa. Also, this wine bar is immediately given a touch of artistic class because it was started by Jan Hřebejk and David Ondřiček who are two Czech film directors. The name of the bar? That means, “Sideways” in Czech and yes, you can indeed buy the movie of the same name as well as t-shirts from the bar which were unfortunately out when I was there. The bar … Continue reading Evening at Vinárna Bokovka

Finding The Hidden Vine

Yes, it is indeed hidden, but you can find it. The Hidden Vine is a perfectly-named wine bar in San Francisco. Sitting on the edges of Nob Hill, The Tenderloin, and Union Square, owners and master hosts, Angela and David Cahill pour wines for the masses with, what cannot be stated in any better terms than “down home” hospitality. Amazingly, no matter how busy it is on any given night, you will always feel like you are their only guest and they are very excited to show you what new wines they have that month. Ah yes, that’s an important element to their wine bar that’s always fun in that they feature a different region each month to taste, so in addition to their wine list always being updated and tweaked, returning guests can enjoy something brand new, 12 times a year. But more on this in a little bit. The history of their wine bar starts back on the East Coast. David and Angela bopped around New Jersey, Maryland, and North Carolina for awhile. It was in Chapel Hill that they encountered the West End Wine Bar. They had great times there and liked the whole setup of the … Continue reading Finding The Hidden Vine

CAV – the Wine Bar and the Kitchen

The back dining area. It’s only after two years of its existence that people start to realize that CAV on Market Street in San Francisco is not only an excellent wine bar, it has a wonderful kitchen to boot. No one would be better suited than SF Chronicle restaurant critique Michael Bauer to attest the superb quality of Executive Chef’s Christine Mullen’s cuisine. The title of his review entails a double compliment: An accomplished kitchen to match the sublime wine list at CAV. Well, I feel quite qualified to provide testimony as well: I’ve recently been back to CAV specifically to check out the menu and can only rave about it. Rather than giving the details away, why don’t I leave you with good advise: Sit down and let the good times roll, i.e. tell the knowledgeable and friendly wait staff you want to explore their goodies. Trust me, they will treat you well and nicely pair each of the courses as they arrive on your table. Give it a try, you’ll love it. Not to be outdone by her culinary colleague, Wine Director Pamela Busch continued garnering additional awards to her already long list. This time it was California’s … Continue reading CAV – the Wine Bar and the Kitchen