It’s Springtime! Megjött a kikelet!

When French eonologist Stéphanie Berecz founded Kikelet Pince with her husband Zsolt in Tarcal, Tokaj, she wanted a name that was easy to write and pronounce. She chose Kikelet, which means springtime in Hungarian or more literally “out-waking” (“ki” meaning “out”, “kel” is “to wake up” so “kelet” is technically “waking”). Kikelet refers to that moment when the young buds open up and the first spring flowers start blooming as the snow melts. Stéphanie told us when we visited the winery some years ago that she was enchanted by the fact that there was a Hungarian word for this moment and that she named the winery after it. So Spring is in the air and we start craving for brighter, more fruit-forward wines that can be paired with green salads, spring vegetables and fresh fruits. Kikelet’s Hárslevelű and Furmint wines are delicious Springtime wines, quite mineral and savory and full of stony fruit flavors. Also from Hungary, the Gilvesy Bohém Cuvée is a fragrant and zingy blend of Olaszrizling, Pinot Gris, Rhine Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc, the Gallay Bistronauta White (60% Pinot blanc, 40% Zenit) is an aromatic and easy going bistro wine, and the Pfneiszl Zefir is a refreshing … Continue reading It’s Springtime! Megjött a kikelet!

Great places to drink Blue Danube Wines in San Francisco

There’re so many fine places where you can find Blue Danube wines in San Francisco! In particular, note these three restaurants: they have great reviews in the October issue of Wine & Spirits Magazine and carefully curated wine lists that perfectly match the food in the menu. At August 1 Five, try gol guppa, which are crispy pastries filled with spiced potatoes, with Štoka Teran Rosé: Here, gol guppa crispy pastries filled with spiced potatoes—arrive with a flight of brightly fruit-flavored waters, poured in at table to maintain the crispness and burst of flavor with each bite: biryani is made elegant with long, long grains of rice and perfectly balanced seasonings. Austin Ferrari’s tightly curated wine list is in perfect sync with the food, focused on spicy, earthy wines like Stoka teran rosé and Inconnu Sonoma County cab franc. (Full review here) At Birba, try marinated anchovies with Fekete Furmint: You won’t find the usual suspects here, but rather things like sparkling pineau d’Aunis from the Loire, Béla Fekete’s volcanic whites from Somló in Hungary and six vermouths by the glass to go along with the charcuterie and olives and a soundtrack that veers from Beyoncé to salsa. (Full review … Continue reading Great places to drink Blue Danube Wines in San Francisco

No Escape from Balkan

After a long hiatus, new Balkan wines from Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia & Herzegovina are finally here the second week of July. After looking over previous trip photos, putting together a fairly impressive Balkan playlist (currently listening to Dubioza Kolektiv), cooking some homemade Burek, and adding Ajvar to my morning eggs, I started to realize how much I missed these wines. The combination of salty, herby, oxidatively alive and zero to full tannins that both go with seafood sets these wines apart. We’ve even added some sparkling, sweet, Amfora, and some wines with 10+ years of age on them for good measure. Štoka Family Starting near the Italian and Croatian border in Slovenia, the Štoka family has been farming for over 200 years. The reds are sanguine, high acid, seemingly Marasca cherry infused and pungent despite being low in alcohol. They make you want rare meat, charcuterie and basically anything cured or pickled. If you over do it, please consider making some “Istarska Supa.” Moreno Coronica Directly south on western coast of Istria near the town of Umag is the Coronica winery. Moreno’s grandfather was Austro-Hungarian, his father was Italian, he was Yugoslavian, and now his children are Croatian. It’s … Continue reading No Escape from Balkan

#WineWednesday Spotlight #94: Štoka Teranova Peneče

What is light, airy and deliciously summery? Pét-Nat! Pét-Nat (short for Pétillant Naturel) is a sparkling wine made in the méthode ancestral, an ancient technique where the wine is bottled before having completed its fermentation. The fermentation process continues in the bottle, finishing converting sugar into alcohol and thus producing light bubbles of carbon dioxide. Unlike Champagne, Pét-Nat is not disgorged and can be cloudy. It is also often low in alcohol with a touch of sweetness, which makes it light and refreshing. For sommelier and author of The MODERN GENTLEMAN: A Guide to Essential Manners, Savvy & Vice Jason Tesauro, the deep red Štoka Teranova Peneče is among The 10 Best Pét-Nat Wines Under $40: Wind, erosion, drought, and iron-laden soil make the Kras region one of the most severe and unique terroirs in the world, producing this sparkling red from the inky Teran grape. We’re getting Štoka’s new Pét-Nat production in our coming container from Slovenia. Check it out!

Mon Chérry…

Forced French puns aside, in the 11th hour brainstorming that usually precedes a newsletter to the trade, it occurred to me — cherries! Marasca cherries, which grow up and down the Dalmatian coast (including Slovenia and Southern Hungary) became famous all over Europe once distilled into Maraschino. Most of this production eventually moved to Italy after the destruction of WWII, but famous producers like Luxardo (1821) were all founded in Croatia. Cherry festivals can also be found all over Croatia and neighboring Slovenia. Whether you’re in Istria/Slovene Istria (Piquentum, Coronica, Santomas), Goriška Brda (Kabaj), the Kras (Štoka), Dolenjska (Martinčič) or Štajerska (Črnko), cherries abound. Sour, bitter and sweet, they also play a role in the cuisine as fresh soups, desserts, added to stews, jams, syrups, etc… Granted, I know I’m not breaking new ground by attaching cherry flavors to wine. It’s less about the wines tasting like cherries (although some really do), but a similar balance between bitter, sweet and sour. Whether it’s skin contact Ravan (Friulano), Rebula (Ribolla Gialla) and Sivi Pinot (Pinot Grigio), salty barrel aged Malvasia Istriana, bloody Teran, sweet and sour Cviček, bright and aromatic white field blends, or tart Refošk, there’s a kinship at play. … Continue reading Mon Chérry…

Istria, the new Tuscany

Olive tree groves, vineyard-dotted hills, truffles and medieval hilltop towns: we’re not describing Tuscany but Istria, a heart-shaped peninsula — the largest in the Adriatic Sea — located south of Trieste. Long ruled by the Venetians and later the Hapsburgs, it is now shared by three countries: the largest part (89%) is in Croatia, the northwestern part lies in Slovenia, and a very tiny portion belongs to Italy. While they both enjoy a rich food and wine culture and a beneficial Mediterranean climate, Tuscany and Istria are not completely similar: more than 80% of Tuscany’s production is in red wine while about 80% of the wine produced in Istria is white. Its most significant grape variety is Malvasia Istriana (also the second most important Croatian white grape after Graševina). This ancient grape is believed to have been introduced by the Venetians from Greece. Young Malvasia, simply vinified in stainless steel, produces fresh and crisp delicious wines, ideal partners for grilled sea bass, squid, sardines, and langoustines from the Adriatic. On the other hand, barrel aging and a few days of skin contact can produce a more full-bodied and age-worthy style, perfect accompaniment to Istrian pasta with truffle, black risotto, and … Continue reading Istria, the new Tuscany

Too cold to drink rosé? No way!

Should you drink Rosé in Winter? What about having Rosé for Valentine’s Day? In his latest Wine Column, wine and food writer for The Washington Post Dave McIntyre think we’re wrong to consider Rosé as a summer wine: The market is up against two consumer misconceptions: That rosé is only for summer, and that only the most recent vintage is worth drinking. Here’s the problem: We match rosé to the season, but we pair any other wine to the food we’re eating. You still eat pizza in winter? Salads? Anything garlicky, or with a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern accent? Don’t rule out rosé: It doesn’t clash with long sleeves. And don’t worry about drinking the 2015s; they’re just fine. In fact, I recently found some forgotten 2014s from California and France in my basement. They were delicious — less fresh and invigorating for gulping, perhaps, but age had given them a bit of character that made them shine with food. We have plenty of delicious Rosés in our portfolio for your Valentine. Check them out.

#WineWednesday Spotlight #39: Štoka Teran Rosé

Is this a best-wine-ever story? Close at least. It was a hot and sunny day in Lake Tahoe and we were hiking to find a secluded beach on the east shore. When most of the Lake Tahoe summer visitors are familiar with the sandy beaches of the south and north shores, the east shore has a series of hidden beaches along Highway 28, only accessible by boat or by hiking down moderately steep trails. The one we were looking for was Skunk Harbor, a picturesque cove at the end of an old forest road. After hiking 1.5 miles or so under the fragrant Ponderosa Pines, we reached the shore of the lake with a magnificent view overlooking a sandy beach and its crystal clear water, surrounded by big granite boulders. There were a few boats anchored in the water and people swimming and jumping from the boulders. At the end of the trail, you can either continue straight down to the beach or turn left, follow the shore and reach an even more secluded cove called Axelrod beach, a perfect spot for picnicking, swimming and sunbathing. It’s on our way back to the car — a 560 vertical feet hike … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #39: Štoka Teran Rosé

End your summer with a sparkle

Kreinbacher sparkling wine on its lees Acid, spices, smoke and volcanic heritage 4-5 million years ago, lava erupted in Somló, building a mountain of basalt above an ancient sea and creating a unique environment for growing grapes. Since 2011, the Kreinbacher Estate is combining the traditions of Champagne with Somlo’s distinctiveness. Blending highly mineral Furmint sourced from the coolest, eastern slopes of the Somló hill with a dash of Chardonnay, they produce terroir-driven sparkling wines full of spices, smoky flavors and acidity. A 16 g/l dosage provides their Extra-Dry cuvée with a pleasing roundness. Törley Winery’s old posters Densely chalk-ridden soils and vibrant acidity in Etyek-Buda. There’re several similarities between the Etyek-Buda region near Budapest and Champagne: located at nearly the same latitude, they both have a unique terroir of limestone subsoil producing wines with high acidity. These similarities led József Törley in 1882 to build a sparkling wine production in the region, quickly winning an international reputation. A bright blend of Királyleányka, Riesling, and Grüner Veltliner, Törley Gála Sec is a sparkling made with the Charmat Method and a great Prosecco alternative. Much sweeter, the aromatic Törley Fortuna (a blend of Cserszegi Füszeres, Muskat Ottonel, Csabagyöngye) is a perfect … Continue reading End your summer with a sparkle

A caron of refreshment

Črnko Jareninčan, Štoka Teran rose and Martinčič Cviček will be available shortly after their May 25th arrival at port. They’re all from the idyllic 2015 vintage and none are over 12.5% abv. Spread across Slovenia, the three wineries Črnko, Štoka, and Martinčič form a triangle and moreover, speaking of triangles, that two sided triangle above all these threatening words is a caron. It adds an “h” to the pronunciation of the letter it crowns. “CHrnko, SHtoka, MartinCHiCH”… Get it? Amazing it took us so long to share that! 2015 Martinčič Cviček: The name Cviček (Zvee-Check) is evidently old Slovenian for “very sour wine”. A bracingly dry blend of native red and white varieties that cannot exceed 10% abv. nor be diluted or dealcoholized. Cviček comes from Lower Carniola in Southern Slovenia, another of the country’s picturesque green hillscapes and tastes of the surrounding forest and sour cherry. Barely red and void of tannin, it should be chilled and gulped. In addition to a vine nursery, Jernej Martinčič conscientiously farms 8 hectares over 7 sites of mixed marls and limestones. Fermented with native yeast in stainless steel and wood tanks before blending and bottled just after malolactic fermentation which moderates the … Continue reading A caron of refreshment