Visit a Winery: Kabaj in Goriška Brda, Slovenia

Kabaj Guest House
Kabaj Morel Winery and Guest House

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 Pinot (Pinot Gris) are rich and earthy with plenty of freshness. His red wines, made from Bordeaux varieties that have existed in Brda for over 200 years, are distinctive and well-balanced.

Things to do and see
Above the underground cellar, Katja and Jean-Michel run a guest house with 6 charming rooms overlooking the vineyard. The breakfast is traditional and includes cheese, prosciutto, homemade jams, freshly baked breads, and fruits. In the evening, a gourmet tasting menu is served featuring Slovenian recipes and local ingredients, and paired with Kabaj wines.

The guest house is the perfect base to explore the picturesque vineyard-covered hills and hilltop villages of Brda including Dobrovo and its Renaissance castle and the fortified village of Smartno. Across the border in Italy, the town of Cividale del Friuli is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The seaside is just 30min away and from there, access to the Venetian towns of Koper, Izola, and Piran. Ljubljana, Slovenia’s beautiful capital, is around 1.15h away.

Website: http://www.kabaj.si/en/
Address:Šlovrenc 4 5212 Dobrovo Slovenija
Phone:[386] (53) 959560
Email:info@kabaj.si

Stuart Pigott on Georgian Wine

Giorgi Dakishvili & Burkhard Schuchmann
Giorgi Dakishvili and Burkhard Schuchmann from Vinoterra and Schuchmann wineries

Renowned Riesling expert, Stuart Pigott, expresses his thoughts on Georgian wine after a tasting led by Lisa Granik MW in Brooklyn at Hotel Delmano.

During my June 2008 tour of Georgia the most exciting wines were those being made by Dr. Giorgi Dakishvili at Vinoterra in Qvevri, that is fermenting them in Georgian “amphora”, were the most striking and exciting of all. That was also the case at today’s tasting, but the best wines were even better than those I experienced there five years ago.

Read the whole article on Stuart’s blog here.

Purchase Vinoterra wines here.

Visit a Winery: Schuchmann Wines Chateau in Kakheti, Georgia

Schuchmann Wines Château
Schuchmann Wines Château

The Region
Kakheti is Georgia’s largest and premier wine region. Located in the eastern part of the country, sharing borders with Russia to the northeast and Azerbaijan to the southeast. Kakheti is also culturally rich with many historic monasteries, castles, and small hilltop towns.

Although Georgia is home to over 500 indigenous grape varieties, the two most popular are Saperavi (red) and Rkatsiteli (white), which thrive especially well in the region.

The Winery
German-born Burkhard Schuchmann founded his eponymous winery in 2008 after falling in love with Georgian wines and feeling compelled to share them on a global scale. Burkhard was always a wine connoisseur and discovered Georgia, one of the oldest wine producing regions, through his travels.

The winery is located in the village of Kisiskhevi within the Kakheti wine district. It produces wines out of three vineyard sites: Napareuli, Tsinandali, and Kindzmarauli, and mostly uses native Georgian grape varieties: Rkatsiteli, Mtsvane, Kisi, and Saperavi.

Things to do and see
The Schuchmann team can help coordinate accommodations at their chateau, wine pairing with local delicacies at the onsite restaurant, and custom wine tasting experiences.

Offsite excursions are also available such as horseback riding through Kakheti and touring historical monasteries.

Website: http://www.schuchmann-wines.com/en/georgian-wine-tour/hotel-and-restaurant.html
Phone: +995 7 90 55 70 45
Email: hotel@schuchmann-wines.com for accomodations and info@schuchmann-wines.com for general inquiries

Visit a Winery: Gere in Villány, Hungary

Gere Hotel
The Crocus Gere Wine Hotel & Spa

The Region
Located in southern Hungary near the Croatian border, Villány is one of Hungary’s top wine regions. About a 1,5 hour drive from Budapest, it has a well-developed tourism infrastructure and is known for its quality red and rosé wines.

The region’s warm, sunny climate is ideal for the indigenous red variety Portugieser. “Bordeaux” varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc have also found a home here.

The Winery
Gere winery may be one of the largest in the region, but careful attention is still paid to every wine. The organically grown grapes are hand-harvested and sorted. The combination of tradition and modern technology give as result fresh, easy drinking wines such as Olaszrizling, Rosé and Portugieser, all the way to rich, full bodied, age-worthy cuvees and single-varietal wines from Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, or even from Tempranillo, Syrah and Pinot Noir.

To utilize natural antioxidants, the winery has also its own production of health care products from grapes, such as 100% grape seed oil, and grape seed micro extract.

Things to do and see
Create a complete experience at Gere Winery including accommodations, gourmet restaurant, and wine tasting!

Crocus Gere Wine Hotel is Villány’s 1st four-star hotel offering superior services such as an onsite wellness spa with unique vinotherapy treatments. Mandula is the hotel restaurant specializing in refined regional cuisine. It is the perfect place to enjoy a pairing with Gere wines.

Villány is only 25 miles south east of the historic city of Pecs, home to world famous Zsolnay ceramics and one of Hungary’s largest displays of Turkish ruins.

Website: http://crocus-hotel.gere.hu/en/
Phone: +36 72 492-195
Address of the winery: 7773 Villány, Erkel Ferenc u. 2/A.
Address of the hotel: 7773 Villány, Diófás tér 4-12.
Email: hotel@gere.hu for accomodations, tamas@gere.hu for wine tasting, etterem@gere.hu for restaurant reservations.

12 Exciting Wine Regions You’ve Never Heard Of

vrbnik
Vrbnik, island of Krk, Croatia

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 by Jeff Jenssen”

On Croatia:

“Croatia boasts 64 indigenous grape varieties, resulting in a wide range of wine styles. Wine is also made from “international” varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Chardonnay. Despite Croatia’s relatively modest size, it boasts 17,000 registered vine growers and 59,000-plus acres of vineyards, growing grapes for more than 800 wineries. White wines account for 60% of production. —Jeff Jenssen”

Bibich NV Ambra Red (North Dalmatia); $50/500 ml, 91 points.

On Bosnia-Herzgovina

“Concentrated in the Herzegovina side of the country, winemaking here is heavily influenced by its Austro-Hungarian history. The nation’s most promising wines are made from indigenous grapes like Blatina, which produces a ruby-red wine with bold alcohol and acidity, and Žilavka, which yields dry, full-bodied and aromatic white wines. —Anna Lee Iijima, ratings by Jeff Jenssen”

Read the whole article here.

Fekete Bela Somló Juhfark ’11 by James the Wine Guy

Fekete Bela Somló Juhfark ’11 by James the Wine Guy

James the Wine Guy continues his tasting exploration of Hungary’s volcanic appellation of Somló with this review of Fekete Béla’s distinct Juhfark:

This wine variety is completely new, beautiful, gorgeous yet distinctive, knowing this wine as a indigenous grape variety from Hungary, the only place you can find it in the world and very few acres, under 200 acres from what I understand. []
What I like about these Juhfark variety wines is that they are really nuanced, there’s significant minerality to these wines and yet very approachable. So what I like about this wine is its distinctive mineral statement, fantastically beautiful, confident, and something that I think is so original and memorable.

Watch the video:

The Advantages of Drinking the Unknown – Brkić Winery in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Brkic Family

There are distinct advantages to drinking the unknown (at least unknown to us). The quality to price ratio of grapes and places we can’t pronounce from places we can’t readily find on a map can often be ridiculously high. Josip Brkić’s wines from Bosnia and Herzegovina are case in point. Ironically, many of the attributes that help make these wines great are buzz words easily found elsewhere in the wine world. The soils are limestone (Karst). Fermentation is native. Farming is Biodynamic. Production is small and everything is done by hand. Barrels are produced from forests just a few hours from the vineyard. Total sulfur use is minimal (>60 ppm), and so on and so on. I’ll skip the part where the wines are made in the vineyard. That said, none of these things are the lynchpin for why I believe these wines deserve attention.

Brkic's vineyard

These wines are great because they are delicious while pushing us out of our comfort zone. The white Žilavka (Zhee-lawv-ka) and red Blatina are more herb like than fruity, more about texture than acidity, and aromatically make you manically search for that thing you just can’t put to words.

Zilavka
Blatina

Žilavka and Blatina

Just an hour’s drive from the Croatian coast, the vineyards are already 800 to 1300 feet above sea level in Southern Herzegovina. The area was already making wine 2000 years ago by the Illyrians and continued during Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, and Yugoslavian rule all the way through independence in 1992. These grapes have a serious history and identity in this place. In the late 1970’s Josip took over after his father’s death and has worked tirelessly to make the wines recognized in the larger wine world. This recognition is not just with Blue Danube, but the Brkić wines will also represent Bosnia and Herzegovina at the soon-to-be-open Cité des Civilisations du Vin in Bordeaux.

Brkic ZilavkaThe 2013 Žilavka is fermented in stainless steel, spontaneously fermented, and then spends three months on the lees before bottling. The root word of the grape is “Žila” which means “vein” because the berries show intricate veins under the skins when they are ready to be picked.
Brkic GredaThe 2010 Greda (100% Žilavka) is fermented in 3000L Bosnian and neutral American Oak barrels. 15-20% whole cluster, native yeasts, full malolactic, aged 2 years on the lees, and bottled unfiltered. Who knew this whole limestone and oak thing would work out:)
Brkic Plava GredaThe 2012 Plava Greda (100% Blatina) is fermented in open top Bosnian oak without temperature control with native yeasts. After full malolactic the wine spends another 18 months sur lie before unfiltered bottling. This is one of those rare brooding looking reds than clocks in under 13% and ripe.

Weingut Geyerhof featured in the Macau Daily Times

Ilse Maier

Nice words and a little on the history of Bio-Weingut Geyerhof in Austria’s Kremstal region coming all the way from Macau. Written by Jacky Cheong for the Macau Daily Times.

THE PASTORAL SYMPHONY
Sandwiched between Wachau to its southwest and Kamptal to its northeast, Kremstal (literally: Krems Valley) is one of the top wine regions of Austria, producing some of the finest Grüner Veltliner and Riesling in this mortal world. Its…

Read the whole article here

To learn more about the wines mentioned and purchase some for yourself, check out our website.

The Epic Eastern European Getaway

The Epic Eastern European Getaway

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.

2012 Brkić Plava Greda by Nenad Trifunović

Josip Brkić
Josip Brkić

Bosnia-Herzegovina may not be a country you would associate with ageworthy, distinctive wines. That is probably because you have not tried one of the finest red wines being produced in the country: Brkić Plava Greda. Josip Brkić’s biodynamic vineyards are located in the distinguished Southern Herzegovina region where grape cultivation dates back at least 2,000 years. “Greda” is the name of the vineyard where Josip sources the indigenous Blahtina grape for this wine.

Josip Brkić in the vineyard
Josip Brkić in the vineyard

Wine writer Nenad Trifunović has followed Plava Greda for several vintages and generously shared his perspective with us. The original reviews, as well as all of Nenad’s work, can be found on his blog site Dnevnik Vinopije (Wine Drinker Journal).

2012 Brkić Plava Greda by Nenad Trifunović

Multilayered, complex, sophisticated, biodynamic, organic farming, Bosnian oak are all terms often used in the attempt to describe Plava Greda. Brkić Plava Greda 2012Interestingly the same terms are not automatically associated to Herzegovina and even the autochthonous variety Blatina. However, when someone asks which Blatina would I choose as the finest representative of its variety and origin, Plava Greda from Brkić is my top choice.

I admit I rarely purchase wine in quantity apart from a few bottles since I have no suitable cellar for longer holding. I barely have enough space with my current tasting rhythm and focus on about 15 labels per month. Yet Plava Greda is just the wine that is well worth following through the years, a wine that represents a significant contribution to any wine socializing opportunity, a wine in whose moderation I love to enjoy my time. Which is why I organized a workshop, “Plava Greda Vertical Tasting”, during last year`s Vinocom festival in Zagreb. In all honesty, my love for the wine is only part of the reason; I needed to share a phenomenal case of 2009 Plava Greda. In fact, I am an opportunistic vagabond who took advantage of Josip Brkić in order to uninhibitedly enjoy a tasting of Plava Greda vintages from 2006 to 2012. I could have easily filled the hall with 30 people but no, I selfishly invited just 10 participants to share drops of the precious liquid. I would like to seize this opportunity to apologize to all who were not fast enough to book their spot.

At the workshop, I discovered the fascinating differences between the vintages which might not be as easy to recognize if not tasted side by side because the wine truly is recognizable regardless of the variations of the vintage. Yet the differences in life curves, aromatic aspects, structure and overall impression are significant. If I can remember correctly, 2009 and 2007 were particularly to my liking. Plava Greda 2012 is in its fruit-forward youth: a juicy kiss of cranberry from a bit more “opulent” vintage. It is still a Blatina from 30-year old vineyard, 24 months on fine lees, dry as gunpowder with appropriate 12.8% alc, a bit “sweeter” fruit but also with vinous acids that hides something different, something deep and unstable as life itself and yet persuasive and firm… giving potency to an earthy character that only Blatina can transfer so sincerely. The thing that Brkić always manages to achieve with Plava Greda is a cold earthy character with a phenomenal natural balance of acids and tannins.

In the cellar
In the Brkić cellar

You can find the original article here.