Balkan Wine Box

As you drive up and down the Croatian coast and up into the Karst ridden hinterlands of Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is one constant smell: the combination of herbs and rocks. What “Garrigue” is to the French, “Friškina” is to the Balkans – herbs, rocks and salt baking under the sun. It’s also oddly refreshing. Maybe it’s the ocean air, and maybe it’s the super counterintuitive acidity of the wines and olive oils. Whatever it is, very few smells trigger our olfactory memory so violently. We want Brudet (fish stew), Crni Rižoto (squid ink risotto), octopus cooked under “Peka,” Palačinka (crepes) filled with small fish, and everything bathed in Dalmatian olive oil. Focusing on the Dalmatian coast with a quick jump into Bosnia and Herzegovina (Istrian and Slavonian wines arrive in June), please consider these wines as ideal lubricates for our transition into Spring. Starting on the Island of Korčula off the Southern Dalmatian Coast, three new Pošips from Frano Banicević’s Toreta winery. Pošip is a white grape that can muster a ton of acidity and alcohol if left unchecked. Farmed well on the windy island it can produce salty, aromatic and lively wines. From stainless steel to acacia fermented, … Continue reading Balkan Wine Box

#WineWednesday Spotlight #121: Brkić Mjesečar

Every year, wine professional Pamela Busch makes a list of the most memorable wines she had over the past 12 months. One of them is the Brkić Mjesečar: I’d wanted to try these wines for a while and finally had the opportunity at a Blue Danube Wine tasting over the summer. Josip Brkić is, from what I’ve heard, the only natural winemaker in Bosnia Herzegovina. Using biodynamic practices and indigenous grapes, he’s making very pure and effusive wines and Mjesecar, a skin-fermented white wine made from Zilavka, is exceptional. You can read more about it here. I hope his efforts will inspire other growers in BH to go down a more natural path. This year I’ve had a number of wines from the Balkans that have been on par with great wines from the rest of the continent, and hope this is just a glimpse of what the future holds. The former Yugoslav countries went through a horrendous period in the 90’s, and if the winemaking is one sign that things continue to improve for people in this part of the world, I’ll drink to that. Mjesečar means the Moon Walker in Bosnian and it is Josip’s first wine made … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #121: Brkić Mjesečar

#WineWednesday Spotlight #103: Brkić Greda

Today is a contribution by Bosnian wine educator and consultant Aleksandar Draganić over at Grape Nomad. The Brkić Greda is one of these wines that Will Make You Fall in Love with Žilavka Immediately: A deep golden yellow in the glass, reminiscent of that tree sap you liked to poke your fingers into when you were a kid. I love the authenticity this wine has year in year out – maturing in Bosnian oak, with fine lees aging to get its creamy texture and scrumptious notes of dried apricot, vanilla biscuits, ripe pear and quince. Infinite aftertaste, medium body and without a glamorous drinking window, but still something to taste if you want to remember this grape. For Josip Brkić, who organically farms the white Žilavka and red Blatina in Čitluk in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina, the vineyard is a special place. It’s a place of dedication, a place that demands respect, attention, love, knowledge and passionate work. And his wines reflect his vision and dedication. Check Josip Brkić’s amazing wines on our webshop.

The Wines and Revelations of Josip Brkic – A Visit to Brkic Winery in Bosnia & Herzegovina

Another contribution from our friend Marcy Gordon. Marcy is a freelance travel writer, who publishes in a variety of publications, and the Forbes Travel Guide Corespondent for Napa and Sonoma. In April, Marcy joined the Blue Danube Wine team for two weeks in Dalmatia, Croatia. ROAD TRIP SERIES: CROATIA/BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA Of course almost all winemakers are highly passionate about their craft no matter where they are from. But I found the people I met in Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina were deeply vested in their land and wines in an almost spiritual way. One of our first visits was to Brkic Winery in Citluk – Bosnia & Herzegovina. Josip Brkic is a shining example of a winemaker whose wines embody a philosophy that goes beyond mere passion for wine making. It’s a philosophy of life as well. The vineyards, grapes and wines are regarded as members of the family. We sat down to taste several of the Brkic wines and listen to Josip tell his story. Fifteen years ago Josip Brkic had an epiphany and it changed the course of his life and the trajectory of his wine making. While exhibiting at an Italian wine expo he learned about biodynamic … Continue reading The Wines and Revelations of Josip Brkic – A Visit to Brkic Winery in Bosnia & Herzegovina

#WineWednesday Spotlight #26: Brkić Žilavka

Contributed by Michael W. Trainor aka @awordtothewine on Instagram and Twitter. Michael is a “high energy guitar playing glorified wino with an intense curiosity and passion for all living things” based in Los Angeles. Be sure to follow him! I must confess. I’m having a love affair with Blue Danube Wine. I’m starting to believe they import wine specifically for my pleasure. This was indeed my first date with a wine from Bosnia Herzegovina. The 2014 Brkić Čitlučka Žilavka is a beautiful and unique white wine. The grape is Žilavka, simply pronounced (zhee-lav-ka). So much charm, so much heart, so much beauty, unique characteristics, and so many layers of flavors. A wine made with love and harmony. Organic farming, spontaneous fermentation, aged on its lees, and bottled unfiltered. Perfect. Maybe this should be the only way wines are made. Learn more about the Brkić winery here.

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

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. 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. Žilavka and Blatina Just an hour’s … Continue reading The Advantages of Drinking the Unknown – Brkić Winery in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Herzegovina is Here

Looking out over the town and vines of Međugorje in the heart of Herzegovina. There is a great deal of truth in the saying that “good things come to those who wait”. About two years ago, I discovered what a great wealth of wine was on offer in the Herzegovina region of Bosnia & Herzegovina. Unfortunately, beyond what I could pack in to my suitcase for the flight home, I was unable to taste it since. This has all changed now that the wines of Vinarija Čitluk are available to be purchased here in the U.S. And from our travels in 2007 you can read all about a visit to Čitluk here. The best part in all of this is that Blue Danube Wine Co. was able to get a hold of most everything Čitluk produces, thus providing a great taste across the core varietals of Herzegovina. A Roman carving in Herzegovina This includes several of the white Žilavkas, several of the red Blatinas, and even some Vranacs which people will find is a bit different than what is being made across the border in Montenegro. For those looking to try a bit of everything, there are the Premium Mostar … Continue reading Herzegovina is Here

Hercegovina Produkt Delivers

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Barrels in the main cellar area Hercegovina Produkt is the rather forceful sounding name for a winery that started out as a family-run operation. In 2002 the Barbarić family took their 150 year-old tradition of making wine from being a small affair to being one of the bigger wine producers in the Herzegovina region. While it comes across as a very large company when you come up to the building from the road, there are only seven people running it. One of them is enologist Mirela Gudelj who was nice enough to take some extra time to show us around and give us a taste of their two main wines: Blatina and Žilavka. Blatina and Žilavka We started with the 2006 Žilavka which was quite typical of the region. It had nice soft fruit on the nose and was very fresh. The body was similar and gave of a sense of fresh cut vegetables and fruits, pointing to it being good, paired with salads and other appetizers in a meal. There is also a touch of apricot and peach to the body, which leads in to … Continue reading Hercegovina Produkt Delivers

Vitai is Different

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Sanja Juricić samples the wines of her family Vitai is the company name for the brand of wine in Bosnia Herzegovina that most people know as Gangaš. It is a very different winery in the region for several reasons. The first being that it is run by three women: Olivera Juricić and her daughters, Sanja and Anđa. This is unheard of in this area because men are the wine makers and that is the end of the discussion. Women may be the enologists for a large company, but men make the wine. Blatina big and small Obviously it was not always the case that women ended up making the wine in this company, and it was the untimely passing of Sanja and Anđa’s father that brought this about. But, instead of folding or selling to another winery as was often the case in the past, they took up the reigns and have become one of the biggest family-owned wineries in Herzegovina producing 75,000 liters last year and having a capacity of 150,000 liters. Not bad for a place that really started in earnest, in 1995 and … Continue reading Vitai is Different

Podrumi Andrija Expands on the Classics

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Andrija’s family sharing wine, meat, and cheese Our first stop along the Vinska Cesta of Herzegovina was at Podrumi Andrija. Like most wine makers in the area, the family has a tradition of wine that formed the foundation of the company. They were a bit different, though, as they actually started making wine to sell in 1971, which was not allowed under the Communist government. Apparently, family and friends worked to hide their wine making operation. Proving that they were a crafty group, they were able to continue growing during the war with their wine being routed through other countries with some fantastic scheme that we think we were better off not knowing about. Andrija’s Žilavka Barrique But now, in the 21st century, the winery is a full-fledged operation, producing from four hectares of their own and buying from 400 other people who grow on an additional 80 hectares. This allows them to have a well-appointed tasting room where they treated us to an extensitve tasting of their wines as well as some locally made pršut (smoked ham), which we always accept gladly. We started with … Continue reading Podrumi Andrija Expands on the Classics