#WineWednesday Spotlight #66: Miloš Plavac with Oysters

Since it’s oysters season, here is a contribution from Blue Danubian Stetson Robbins. It comes from a blog post he wrote a while ago. Since then, nothing has changed: he is still crazy for oysters and Plavac! Recently, my mom made friends with a favorite local oysterman. It was rumored that his were the best, so for this most recent visit she order 3½ dozen for just 4 of us. The guy hand delivered his day’s catch to the door. Most were these deliciously fresh, even sweet locally farmed ‘America’ oysters, but the real treat were the dozen strongly flavored wild Belon. Forgoing the typical compliment of Muscadet, or Chablis, I selected something more appropriate for the season. After all, in Maine, winter is the best season for oysters; so why should we drink summer wine? Peljesac wines are some of the most transparent expressions of place and people being bottled today. Paradoxically, it is this individuality that enables them to relate so brilliantly to the culinary traditions of other places. For me, winter oysters in Maine will never be complete without some hearty Plavac. This makes the world feel smaller, but in a good way. In fact, people have … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #66: Miloš Plavac with Oysters

Experiencing the aromas and flavors of Dalmatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina

Two Blue Danubian, Gisele Carig and Catherine Granger, visited Dalmatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina last April for the first time. Catherine: It’s been 2 months since our trip to Croatia and Bosnia and I still remember everybody’s kindness and generosity, the striking scenery, and of course, all these fabulous wines and local dishes we were able to taste. Gisele: One of my favorite food and wine moments of the trip happened on the last evening. We were relaxing on the Skradin marina with Alen and Vesna Bibić, along with a few of their friends. Alen was very generously pouring us his 2015 Debit. The light freshness of the wine along with its slightly green almond finish was exactly what we needed after two long weeks of traveling through Plavac country. Then it arrived…the risotto dreams are made of! Skradin is famous for this particular style of risotto appropriately called “Skradinski Rižot”. Traditionally made by men, this risotto is composed of veal that is cooked down for around 8 hours, or until it completely falls apart. The rich meat stock is added in stages to the rice as you would with any risotto. The texture is amazing! The meat basically becomes … Continue reading Experiencing the aromas and flavors of Dalmatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina

Reflections from a Final Meal in Budapest

“Munchausen, I know you Christians are judges of good wine. Here is a bottle of Tokay, the only one I possess, and I am sure that never in your life can you have tasted better.” – The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen, 1785 I was recently reflecting upon my last meal in Budapest that I happily consumed just over a week ago. Despite being fed whipped pig fat, goose cracklings, paprika laden stews, kolbász, pickled everything and so on 3-4 times a day for 11 days, I still felt compelled to order basically the same thing when finally given the chance to order for myself. I even upped the ante a bit and went right for rooster testicles and cocks comb stew with an Irsai Olivér Fröcs (aka Spritz). There was so much delicious fat, bright raw onions, smoke, garlic, paprika, and fermented flavors over the course of the dinner that it was difficult to think about drinking anything other than Hungarian wines. Maybe a volcanic Canary or Etna here or there or perhaps some Chenin or Riesling, but after you had a Tokaj Aszú with over 300 grams of residual sugar, 12 g/l total acidity and 7% alcohol that … Continue reading Reflections from a Final Meal in Budapest

Celebrate Spring with Potica, the traditional Slovenian cake

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending a potica baking workshop hosted by the Slovenian Hall in San Francisco. I knew that potica was an important, sweet staple for Slovenians but little else. When I saw the invitation, I jumped at the opportunity to learn more and have the chance to taste this delicacy prepared by local experts. I’m glad I did! Potica (pronounced po-teet-sa), which roughly means “to wrap in” in Slovene, is a traditional cake often served at holiday celebrations, especially Easter. Every family has its favorite recipe but it is usually a rolled bread filled with a walnut paste. It can be shaped as a log, baked in a loaf pan or in a Bundt pan. It was a fun afternoon featuring 3 different variations on the treat. I chose one to share with you here and hope that you will give it a try, perhaps as a snack along side a Slovenian wine? Recipe, courtesy of Blair Kilpatrick Dough 1 c. plus 6 T. butter, melted and cooled 1 c. + 1 t. sugar 6 egg yolks 1-1/2 c. sour cream 2 packages dry yeast 3/4 c. warm milk 6 c. flour 1 … Continue reading Celebrate Spring with Potica, the traditional Slovenian cake

Plum Dumplings: An Austro-Hungarian Treat

Anne Krebiehl MW offers this traditional recipe in her latest article for Wine Enthusiast. Read the full piece here. Known as Lekvártascherl in Austria and Barátfüle in Hungary, these plum dumplings are a delicious example of Central European sweets. The best wine pairing would be either an Austrian eiswein or late harvest wine from Hungary. Here are a few we recommend: From the Rosenhof Winery in Austria, producer of some of the finest, incredibly balanced sweet wines- Rosenhof Blaufränkisch Eiswein 2012 Rosenhof Welschriesling TBA 2010 Two late harvest wines from Tokaj, Hungary; one is made by the Füleky winery and the other by Patricius. Both wines retain a beautiful amount of freshness and lively acidity that work in harmony with the residual sugar- Füleky Pallas Tokaji Late Harvest 2012 Patricius Katinka Late Harvest 2012 Plum Dumplings Recipe Recipe courtesy Michal Rabina, Eisenstädter Mehlspeiskuchl, Schloss Esterházy, Eisenstadt, Austria Ingredients 2 cups boiled, peeled potatoes 3/4 cup quark or fromage frais 3/4 cup unsalted butter 2 egg yolks (save the whites for another use, or discard as desired) 1 whole egg 1 1/2 cups flour, plus extra for dusting 1 teaspoon lemon juice 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest 1 teaspoon finely … Continue reading Plum Dumplings: An Austro-Hungarian Treat

The Start of a Croatian Wine Love Affair

Travel/wine writer and founder of Writing Between the Vines, Marcy Gordon loves Croatia, especially the wines. Check out what sparked her interest and read about her first visit to Croatia. Thank you for sharing with us, Marcy! The first time the wines of Croatia came across my radar was through a random Tweet I saw by Cliff Rames (founder, Wines of Croatia). Until that point I’d never tried any wine from the region and knew little about Croatian varietals. I was directed to Blue Danube Wines as the place to start. Through the Blue Danube Portfolio I was given a wonderful overview of what Croatia had to offer. I found a rustic elegance in the wines with flavor profiles both bright and deep, and a briny kiss of salinity that was intriguing and enjoyable. One producer that stood out for me was Bibich. My love affair with Bibich wine began with that tasting and shortly afterwards I had the opportunity to visit Alen Bibić at his winery in Skradin, outside of Šibenik on the Dalmatian coast of Croatia. It was there that my simple infatuation with Croatia bloomed into lust — an appreciative lust for the wine and food and the … Continue reading The Start of a Croatian Wine Love Affair

#WineWednesday Spotlight #5: Merry Christmas with the Geyerhof Grüner Veltliner Rosensteig

Sometimes it is tricky to have all your kids at home at the same time. As your kids get older, there’s something you understand very quickly: you need to be flexible with your schedule and that’s why we celebrated Christmas on Saturday December 19th. On the menu, we had a choucroute garnie, one of my daughter’s favorite dishes and a recipe that comes from my mom’s old pressure cooker cookbook. We’re also lucky to have a fantastic German butcher in the neighborhood where we can buy his own fermented sauerkraut, smoked meat and sausages. The recipe is really easy. Layer up the sauerkraut with bacon, smoked pork chops, sausages, onions, and carrots. Don’t forget the secret ingredient: a tart apple. Spice it with black peppercorns, cloves, and juniper berries, pour a bottle of Riesling, close the cooker lid, and cook for an hour. Serve with steamed potatoes and frankfurters. Although the dish calls for Alsatian Riesling, I really like it with the Austrian Geyerhof Grüner Veltliner Rosensteig. Organically farmed by the Maier family, the Rosensteig vineyard (“rose path” in German) is a terraced slope above the Danube characterized by deep loess soils. For me, the Grüner Veltliner that is produced … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #5: Merry Christmas with the Geyerhof Grüner Veltliner Rosensteig

2006 Monastery Tvrdos Vranac: Twice as Nice

Until I began working for Blue Danube, I, like the majority of Americans, had never tasted a wine from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Clearly, I was missing out; the region is steeped in ancient winemaking tradition. By comparison, these Balkan countries make France seem very New-World. The reason grapes have been cultivated here for thousands of years is simple: their terroir, the confluence of the sunny maritime climate and mountains produces robust grapes. This entry focuses on the 2006 Vranac from Monastery Tvrdos of the Trebinje region of Herzegovina. The Tvrdos Monastery sits on the banks of the picturesque Trebišnjica river, 15 miles as the crow flies or, due to circuitous roads, a two hours drive from the Adriatic coast. It is here that the river erodes topsoil, creating the fields of karst endemic to this region. Although hot summers and mild winters characterize the region, winds blow simultaneously from both the nearby Dinaric mountains and the Adriatic. The indigenous grapes, the white varietal, ŽZilavka, and Vranac have been grown in the region for centuries. Vranac is a supposed relative of the Croatian Plavac Mali, the ancestor of the Californian Zinfandel. The monastery is perched on the foundation of a 4th-century … Continue reading 2006 Monastery Tvrdos Vranac: Twice as Nice

Blue Danube Tasting at Google

We have been pretty busy at Blue Danube Wine this spring. Several weeks ago, we were featured at Google’s Wine Wednesday, a biweekly tasting event organized by the Google wine club. To help the chefs of the hosting cafe prepare tidbits that could be paired with each wine, we had brought some wine samples to them ahead of time. We anticipated that few Googlers would be familiar with Central-Eastern European wines so we chose the following selection of wines from Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, and Croatia, showcasing some of the best wines currently produced along the Danube river and the Dalmatian coast: 2010 Sommer Bergweingarten M Grüner Veltliner: founded in 1698, the Sommer Winery is now run by winemaker and Grüner Veltliner specialist Leo Sommer and his wife Silvane. The estate is located in the Neusiedlersee-Hügelland region near Lake Neusiedl in eastern Austria. The wine was dry, crisp, mineral with a good structure on the palate. The chefs chose to pair it with a creamy Morel and Aspargus Risotto. 2009 Kabaj Ravan: Kabaj Winery is owned and run by French-born winemaker Jean-Michel Morel and his wine Katja Kabaj. It is located in Goriška Brda in Western Slovenia, an appellation known as … Continue reading Blue Danube Tasting at Google

Solving the artichokes and wine pairing dilemma: try the Kogl Magna Domenica Albus

Why are artichokes so hard to pair with wine? The main culprit is cynarin, a chemical compound that changes the way our taste buds perceive flavors. After eating artichokes, many people experience extra sweetness in their food and drinks, while a few others may taste more bitter flavors. My problem is that I love wine and I love artichokes, especially when signs of springs are starting to be seen all around. So the other night, I made one of my favorite spring recipes, pasta with braised artichokes, green beans, lima beans, and bacon lardons. As for the wine, I decided to try the Kogl Magna Domenica Albus 2009. Home of the Cvetko family since 1820, the Kogl Winery is located in Northeastern Slovenia, not very far from the borders of Hungary, Austria, and Croatia. With a humid continental climate and prolongued freezing periods during wintertime, the region is famous for its white wines. The Magna Domenica Albus (Latin for “Grand White Estate Wine”) is the winery’s flagship wine. It is a blend of Riesling, Yellow Muscat, and Auxerrois, aged in traditional big wooden barrels. The wine had a light golden color and a lively flowery nose. The palate was dry, … Continue reading Solving the artichokes and wine pairing dilemma: try the Kogl Magna Domenica Albus