The Wines of Georgia – The “Alice Perspective”

Wine has been an integral part of Georgian culture for thousands of years, yet the wines are just beginning to become known and respected outside of the country. As part of our effort this month to provide more in depth knowledge on Georgia, I conducted a brief interview with Alice Feiring. Alice is a respected, passionate wine writer with a keen interest in natural wines. She recently wrote a book on Georgian wine, so I knew her insights would be first hand and authoritative. I hope you’ll enjoy reading the interview below and get inspired to experience first hand this ancient wine culture. 1. What made you interested in writing a book about the wines of Georgia? Actually, the Georgian government approached me. The country had already translated Naked Wine into Georgian and they wanted an “Alice” book on my perceptions of Georgian wine, but on my part, it was a love project. I am hoping to triple the pages on the book and get an American publisher on board. My agent was funny, he was like, who would be interested in Georgian wine? But when he started to read the book, he quickly changed his mind. 2. What is … Continue reading The Wines of Georgia – The “Alice Perspective”

The winemakers are coming, meet them in Danubia!

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!

NYT Resolution for 2014: drink adventurously, drink Kabaj!

Here is New York Times columnist Eric Asimov’s latest New Year resolution: 20 adventurous wines for $20 to drink this winter. Some are white, some are red, and all should warm your heart but they should also stretch your comfort zone: they will introduce you to intriguing grapes as well as little-known appellations from wine-growing regions rich in history and culture and long wine-making traditions. Besides the 2010 Kabaj Ravan from Goriška Brda in Slovenia listed in the article—“zesty and fresh with persistent, tangy flavors”—our portfolio contains plenty of intriguing wines for you to discover this winter. With fresh oysters on the half shell and crabs, enjoy a crisp and mineral Hárslevelű from Hungary. Experiment with skin macerated whites and try them with Swiss fondue or raclette. Consider the Croatian grapes Plavac Mali and Babić as delicious alternative to Zinfandel. Anyway, have fun! Happy Drinking and Happy New Year!

Dossier Zinfandel: Zinfandel’s Origins Demystified

Last thursday was the premiere screening of Dossier Zinfandel at the third annual Napa Valley Film Festival. Directed by Mika Barisic, the documentary tells the compelling story of Zinfandel, “California’s own grape,” and the search for its mysterious origins. When Croatian-born winemaker Mike Grgich arrived in Napa Valley in 1958, he noticed that the Zinfandel vines looked familiar and very similar to Plavac Mali, a native variety from the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia. He was convinced at the time that Plavac Mali and Zinfandel were the same grape. With his support, UC Davis professor and grapevine geneticist Carole Meredith started a collaboration with the University of Zagreb. In May 1998, she traveled to Croatia to meet scientists Ivan Pejic and Edi Maletic and the three of them started exploring the Dalmatian coast. Eventually, they collected 150 samples that Dr Meredith brought back to UC Davis so that they could be identified in her lab using DNA fingerprinting. While Meredith’s team was able to confirm that the Italian grape Primitivo and Zinfandel were clones of the same variety, they found out that Plavac Mali was not a good match. Instead, they identified the Croatian grape as an offspring of Primitivo/Zinfandel. It … Continue reading Dossier Zinfandel: Zinfandel’s Origins Demystified

Kabaj: TOP 100 Winery of the Year!

Congratulations Jean-Michel Morel! Kabaj wines have been praised by many wine critics and publications including Ed Behr’s “The Art of Eating”, Eric Asimov of the New York Times, Wine Enthusiast, Tasting Table National. Now we are thrilled that Wine & Spirits Magazine recently named KABAJ TOP 100 Winery of the Year. Jean-Michel and his family farm small plots of vineyards, where the Alps meet the Adriatic, on the Slovenian/Italian border in Goriška Brda, Slovenia. The name of the winery, Kabaj, is his wife Katja’s maiden name; Brda is their terroir: a special intersection of climate, geology, and culture that Jean intertwines into wine. Reflective of the diversity of their origin, there is something primal about them. Kabaj makes no fresh wine. Everything is aged and made to age. Dense in character, but never heavy, tension is drawn from minerality and grape tannin more than acidity. Less fruity than savory, the whites often have a textural quality akin to fine tea. They hate to be cold and typically show their best just below the temperature of their environment and company. The reds, made primarily from Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, are vinified in typical Bordeaux fashion and are intensely mineral … Continue reading Kabaj: TOP 100 Winery of the Year!

Ode to LA

Going back to LA for Blue Danube Wine Co. Summer School after living in Brooklyn for the past year, felt more reunion than class. The massiveness of this personal experience dawned when the Summer air hit me outside LAX and memories forgotten and familiar swirled together. LA has changed. Not because it needed too, but because this is what it does best. It was great to reconnect with many of the people responsible for this, I did not know that I missed them so much. Seeing that what were conversations, some quite old, come to fruition and play a part, is in my world profound. Wine defines this business, but relationships give it value. For those in LA who have supported what we do, hosted us in their businesses and taught at least as much as learned, my hat is eternally tipped. The invitation we sent out for the trade tasting listed me as an instructor, the reality is that I am among the students, in LA most of all. Extra hat tips to: Silver Lake Wine – for hosting the awesome Sunday Tasting Terroni – For hosting the Summer School Gjelina – for the 5th year anniversary party and … Continue reading Ode to LA

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!

#WineStudio – Croatian Wines on Twitter

PROTOCOL wine studio is dedicated to exploring the culture of wine via educational events. As we lay our roots, we’re exploring various concepts in group wine experiences. We invite you to review our event schedule and attend: #WineStudio Led by successful local Social Media guru Bill Eyer of The Cuvee Corner Wine Blog, PROTOCOL wine studio presents a twitter-based educational program where we engage our brains and palates! “Meet” and taste with other wine-minded folks throughout the country and beyond. Contact us for more info. Hashtag: #winestudio 6:00pm – 7:00pm Pacific Time Mondays Session III – Croatia We’ll tackle five producers and taste grapes that we can’t pronounce without pronunciation keys! We’ll also host a few guests who just returned from the International Wine Tourism Conference – stay tuned! If you’d like to taste the below wines along with the studio gang, connect with us. 4/8: Sipun Zlahtina 2011 Blanc 4/15: Piquentum Malvasia 2011 Blanc 4/22: Daruvar Grasevina 2011 Blanc 4/29: Dingac Plavac 2010 Red 5/6: Bibich R6 Riserva 2009 Rouge For more information see: Croatian Wines and other Unpronounceable Things

Wine: a cultural preservative?

The last few weeks have been particularly active for us, even nuts. We are in the middle of a visit from Ivica Dobrinčić of Šipun and Alen Bibić of Bibich Winery in NYC for Vina Croatia. In the air right now are Judit and Jozsef Bodó of Bott Pince in Tokaj who will visit us in NY first then SF and LA. Finally I take a moment to read the pamphlets Ivica brought to promote his wines at the various tastings. Nice pictures, good information, nicely written, and then the last few sentences made me stop to share. He is writing in reference to the wines of his native Krk, “The traditional, but sometimes neglected viticulture and wine production have recently evolved in a modern technologically sophisticated and promising industry, Such a development has improved the existence of many domestic families. It has also prevented people from leaving their birthplace, and at the same time generated superior results.” We understand wine as a beverage and a commodity, but cultural preservative, or even cultural booster? When I consider the history and tradition behind these families, hear them share their visionary ideas and then taste their already singular and delicious wines, I … Continue reading Wine: a cultural preservative?

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?