Cellar Club November 2018
EEE - Exciting Eastern Europe
Given a map of Central and Eastern Europe- once the heart of the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War era-the average American wine consumer would struggle to pinpoint countries like Slovenia, Hungary, Romania or Georgia. But in terms of global wine production, the region is actually a substantial contributor. As of 2010, Romania ranked sixth in the European Union for wine production, sandwiched between Germany and Greece. Hungary trails just after Greece in eighth place. Labeled with tongue-tying grape varieties and appellations, it's not surprising that U.S. imports from these regions have been limited in volume.
According to sommeliers like Thomas Pastuszak, wine director of the NoMad hotel and restaurant in New York City, the region is a veritable treasure chest of wines, offering incredible diversity and a strong connection to land and history. "I love to wow guests by introducing them to these unique wines," he says, speaking about producers like Slovenia's Movia, a darling in sommelier and wine-geek circles for its biodynamic, low-intervention winemaking and amphorae-aged offerings. "Initial reactions to my recommendation are often those of skepticism," he says, "...but when they taste the wine and enjoy a bottle over the course of their meal, they are always thankful to have been exposed to these beautiful, hidden gems of the wine world."
Wines from Central and Eastern Europe are increasingly modern and consumer-friendly in style. Many offer an array of solidly crafted, international varietal wines-Merlot, Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc-some at incredible bargain prices.
Cheers and thank you for being a member of The Cellar Club!
Wine Pick #1:
2017 Slavcek Sivi Pinot
Vipavska Dolina, Slovenia
Sivi Pinot, the Slovenian name for what's more widely known as Pinot Gris, has been a lovely white that the Slavcek family has been producing for generations, indeed, since the 1700's! The Sivi Pinot sees 48 hours of skin contact which imparts complex aromatics and texture not found in many white wines. Only natural yeasts are employed with a period of 3 months on sediment. Aged in both stainless-steel tanks and large acacia barrels, the result is both simple and sophisticated. A natural, orange wine that gets it right!
Wine Pick #2:
2012 Citluk Blatina
The Greeks referred to the lands to their north (Slovenia to Greece itself) as Illyria. The remains of this realm have since been long forgotten. Founded in 1957, the Citluk Winery cultivates 400 hectares near Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Having emerged from the horrific years after the dissolution of Yugoslavia, Citluk has embraced both the traditional indigenous grapes and winemaking practices of the past and modern techniques and technologies. The result is wines of exceptional quality and expression of this unique corner of the Balkans.
CHEESE PAIRING OF THE MONTH:
Vermont Shepherd Invierno
Award winning mountain cheeses from Westminster, Vermont.
Yesenia grew up milking cows in the summer on her dad's farm in the Dominican Republic. David grew up tending his dad's sheep in Vermont. Together, they make a mixed milk cheese called "Invierno". The sheep milk comes from David and Yesenia's sheep who are famous for the Vermont Shepherd cheese their milk produces. The cows milk comes from a small dairy farm just down the road. Invierno (or "winter" in Spanish) is a soft to semi-hard natural rind cheese, aged 5-6 months. Invierno is a versatile cheese with a rich, butter and mushroom flavor. It melts well and it's delicious with cider, beer and rich savory red wines.
Recipe of the Month:
Less of a meal itself and more of an accompaniment, Ajvar is a delicious blend of roasted peppers, eggplant, paprika and garlic. Perfect with some warm baked bread and cheese (try with the Invierno), this sweet and satisfying spread can be found all over Eastern Europe.
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