Filling in the Blancs: Gregor Kren

Dear readers, let me introduce you to a man that pushed the level of studying at the Austrian Wine Academy to another level, a level many have never even come close to. Gregor Kren, a sommelier at Oštarija (Novo Mesto) and creator of Slovenia’s hip Pop Up Wine Festival, is the leader that every squad strives towards having. He organized some of the best wine tastings I have ever attended in a place that I would have never seen myself in a hundred years – Rust, Austria. There, while studying the WSET Diploma, we opened Champagne with sabers, studied the shit out of those huge books and laughed our asses off with some of the biggest names in the business. I’ll take this opportunity to thank him for all the awesomeness and legendary friendship we formed. Now, enjoy! Continue reading “Filling in the Blancs: Gregor Kren”

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5 Wines to Keep on Your Travel Radar for 2016

Last month, the Prowein International Trade Fair for Wine and Spirits, the largest in Europe, was held in Dusseldorf, Germany. Some 52,000 visitors, 6,000 exhibitors, and 1,000 journalists from 47 countries came to the industry-only event. Even for people that make a living from wine, arriving at the gates of this fair for the first time feels a bit like Frodo in front Mordor; you get a jolt of excitement mixed with pure bliss and a hint of anxiety. Rows and rows of exhibition halls stretch in every direction, displaying every type of vino imaginable: European, New World classics, and exotic destinations such as Bolivia and Lebanon.

My task to readers—as a wine shop owner, sommelier, and devotee of reds and whites—was to find the five wines across the planet that travelers should keep their eyes on this coming year. The results of that mission are below. I hope your discovery of these wines adds special meaning to your journeys this year.

Colio Estate Prism Vidal Icewine 2013
Lake Erie, North Shore, Canada

Canada is COLD. Living there for six years, I completely understand why Canadians are famous for their luscious icewines, better known as “liquid gold.” Producing since 1985, Ontario proves, year in year out, why it has ideal conditions for these types of wines: warm summers to ripen the grapes and cold winters to leave them on the vines until late January for temperatures of 17.6 degrees Fahrenheit or lower in order to fully concentrate the juices and flavors and get a beverage with high sugars and low alcohol. Awarded gold at the 2015 National Wine Awards of Canada, Vidal’s icewine lives up to this reward fully. Putting my nose inside the glass was like putting it in a jar of granny’s apricot jam—fresh, fruity and sweet. On the palate, it’s pure syrup, with notes of orange zest, ripe nectarine, dripping honey and pineapple. The acidity creates the backbone of the wine and is carried out gorgeously in the lasting aftertaste. Continue reading “5 Wines to Keep on Your Travel Radar for 2016”

How to Create a Successful Wine List

The wine list is a very important part of communication between the restaurant and the guest, so its quality is mostly placed head to head with the restaurant’s menu. Although most restaurant owners engage into the selection of wines themselves, I believe that it is never a bad idea to listen to the advice of those who are professionally occupied with wines.

Head to a restaurant and ask the owner what’s the most important thing for a good wine list. Most will tell you that it’s definitely a wider selection of prestigious and expensive wines. Consumers think differently. With the exception of a few wine lovers, the most important thing is that the wine list is readable, understandable, and well designed. There is truth in both statements, but the goal is to take a little from both worlds.

When I consider the essential purpose of a wine list, a few general principles come to mind. First, it should be presented as a precise catalogue of available wines and an effective tool to improve sales and service. Look at it as free marketing of the wine program. The design and organization tell a lot about a restaurant. If the wine list is dry and plain, it is likely that the restaurant will be the same. On the other hand, if it is creative with inventive descriptions that are dedicated to pairing wine and food, it will set priorities in a totally different way. Wines should not be listed by prices, because guests will feel inferior, as if they will be judged by how much money they spend. Descriptions should be the same length for each wine. If the staff devotes itself only to premium labels, neglecting, for example, medium-quality wines, they give the impression of being condescending or arrogant. The difference between a good wine list and excellent wine list is in focus. It is necessary to take into account the food being served. Wines on the list may be good, but if they do not go with the food, the point is missed. Continue reading “How to Create a Successful Wine List”

The European California: Mostar Wine Country

The sun did us a favor during our initial visit to the Mostar wine region. In the early morning, a group of ten people headed to their first destination — Čitluk. Mr. Josip Brkić, together with his sons, welcomed us with a light breakfast and four wines: a fresh Žilavka, Greda (sur lie Žilavka), Mjesečar and Plava Greda (Blatina barrique). We were especially intrigued by Mjesečar as the only biodynamic wine in the country, but not lacking strong aromas and body for a second. The second destination was the winery Vilinka (village Sretnice), where we experienced a mini-tour guided by Mr. Velimir Ereš, owner and winemaker. Along with lunch (splendid lamb and stew), we were served four wines: Žilavka, Blatina (basic and barrique versions). Barrique versions of these wines are available on the market at the end of every year and sell pretty fast, because of a small production and huge demand. I can only say it is worth the wait every year! Velimir gave us a tour through his vineyards, which were not far from his winery, telling us the details about the fruit, soil and vintages.

After Sretnice, we went to Međugorje to visit the cellar of Mr. Grga Vasilj. We tried four different wines: Žilavka, Blatina (basic and barrique styles) with wonderful prosciutto served fresh on the spot. The final destination was one of the most modern wineries in the country — winery Nuić.
Mr. Nuić conducted us primarily through the Crnopod vineyards and then trough the main part of production and storage. There we had a chance to pair the entire selection of Nuić wines with a variety of cheeses (young and aged) and prosciutto, all local. Continue reading “The European California: Mostar Wine Country”