An hour’s drive from Ljubljana in Southeast Slovenia, the Dolenjska wine-growing district is one of Slovenia’s largest wine growing region. Thanks to a combination of alpine and continental climatic influences, its gentle, south-facing hills at the edge of the woods are ideal for growing grapevines. The region is famous for its light, fruity, low-alcohol reds, especially the Cviček, a traditional, slightly sour red wine made by blending red and white grape varieties. Made in the same light and fruity style, try this Pinot Noir Rosé from the family-owned Martinčič winery: showing a lovely pale salmon pink hue, the wine is dry and tangy with a refreshing round palate. With only 11% alcohol in a 1 Liter bottle, bring it to your next picnic with a cured salami and a fresh loaf of bread.
15 wines is a lot to get through without losing you after this sentence. However, there is a salty, tart, and often nutty line that connects them all from the Bay of Trieste down to Southern Dalmatia. These are our table wines for the summer. For the past few years, we’ve brought the Martinčič Cviček liter in from Dolenjsko (in between Zagreb and Ljubljana in Slovenia). This tongue-twisting blend of red and white grapes must be between 8.5-10% alcohol and dry by law. Now we are finally adding two more liters to round things out – the 2016 Modra Frankinja (Blaufränkisch) and 2016 Modri Pinot Rosé (Pinot Noir). They are both around 11-11.5% alcohol, incredibly low in SO2, and are impossibly fresh and full of character. Chill all three down and let them come up at the table. Roughly 2 hours West and a bit south by car and you hit Istria (Istra in Slovenia). Dominated by Malvasia Istarska, Teran and Refošk, the diversity by soil and proximity to the Adriatic is immense. Keeping with the liter theme, the 2016 Santomas LNG Refošk is our Dolcetto by the sea in that it satisfies the pizza/pasta needs but still lends itself … Continue reading The Tart, Salty and the Nutty from the other side of the Adriatic: Summer Wines from the Balkans
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
Last week, we enjoyed the visit of Axel and Herta Stiegelmar, the charming owners of Juris Winery, who participated in a series of promotional events in San Francisco and Los Angeles. In San Francisco, they were featured at Portfolio, our annual tradeshow located this year at the San Francisco Old Mint, pouring their Pinot Noir and St. Laurent wines non-stop from 11:00am to 3:00pm. Juris is a family estate in Gols, Burgenland, run by the Stiegelmar family since the late 1500’s. After acquiring practical experience in Germany, Bordeaux and California, Axel Stiegelmar is now considered a Pinot Noir and St. Laurent specialist, producing wines of character and style with aging potential. Pinot Noir and St. Laurent are two difficult and fussy grape varieties that have actually many common characteristics. Pinot noir was most likely brought to Austria in the late 14th Century by Cistercian monks from the Order’s motherhouse in Burgundy. It grows well in the mild climate regions of Burgenland and Thermenregion (Lower Austria) and is recently gaining more importance in the country (1.4% of the plantings in 2009, up from about 0.8% in 1999). The origins of St. Laurent are mysterious but thanks to genetic testing, it is … Continue reading JURIS wine tasting with the Stiegelmars
Juris Vineyard’s Grapevines & Soil The Juris Winery TourA visit to this winery started with a tour of the vineyards. Axel Stiegelmar of Weingut Juris, took us on a whirlwind tour of his vineyards. We had the pleasure of sampling his Pinot Noir and St. Laurent grape varietals. It was great to taste the grapes off the vine and you can really taste the difference between the two varietals before they become wine. Juris Vineyard Soil The Juris Vineyard is located on a raised plateau of pebbles and loam. This dry farmed vineyard produces small amounts of flavor packed grapes. Also, they utilize cover crop and no herbicides in any of their vineyards. If weeds become excessive, they plow to eliminate them and then spread straw down the rows and under the vines to prevent water loss from the constant drying winds. Notice the double stalked vines in the photo above? This is their clever way of increasing plant density in the vineyard while keeping it easy to farm. The double stalked vines are actually two plants right next to each other. This method was first implemented by Axel’s father, Georg Steigelmar, who continues to influence Axel. After tasting the … Continue reading Whirlwind Tour of Juris Winery
The article in the Los Angeles Times. Yesterday’s article by Corie Brown in the L.A. Times, From Slovenia? Wild, wild wines speaks enthusiastically of wines from Slovenia, a region that “is getting hotter by the minute”. The article highlights the boldness of Slovenian winemakers, who are young, experimenting and obtaining some really good results. Revered wine expert expert Jancis Robinson is quoted to have said after her recent trip to Slovenia: “They are quite anarchic and individual in their use of oak and, to my mind, are making more distinctive wines than most of their neighbors in [Italy’s] Friuli.” Brown also spoke to Pieter Verheyde, head sommelier at Bastide in West Hollywood, one of the best restaurants in the Los Angeles area that have embraced Slovenian wines in their wine list. For Verheyde, “they’re lively and complex with unexpected flavors”, and bring diversity to Bastide’s 1,400 label list. He pairs the Santomas Malvazija with a ceviche of scallops, the Refošk with dry aged beef, and the Movia Pinot Noir with Hawaiian sea bass. It all sounds delicious. The two winemakers that the article talks most about are also the most famous ones in the US. Aleš Kristiančić from Movia is … Continue reading Slovenia? Wild, wild wines
Frank told me that A Cote in Oakland would be pouring several of Movia’s wines paired with a five course meal and hosted (or more narrated as I found out) by Aleš Kristančič who is part of the family that has been making these wines since 1820 in Slovenia. I could ramble on and on about how great the food was and how good the company was but it was the second course where they poured the 2001 Pinot Noir, where I paused. I have something of a romantic longing for this wine. The first time I tasted it, was in 2006, in the wine bar that Movia owns in Ljubljana. The bar is quite a place to see if you’re ever there, framed by the beautiful old city that wraps around the hill upon which the old castle stands. It all adds to the atmosphere and sitting in the dark recesses of this bar, it would have been impossible to not enjoy what I was drinking, which was the Movia Pinot Noir. Naturally, I longed for another sip once back the US. As I sat in A Cote, I looked in my glass. Could it be my long-lost wine? … Continue reading Movia Wine Dinner