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Bob Ramsak
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I'm a reporter, editor, photographer and blogger with a lust for travel, art, culture and justice. I've visited 54 countries and counting.
I'm a reporter, editor, photographer and blogger with a lust for travel, art, culture and justice. I've visited 54 countries and counting.

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Here are representations of about five dozen of the 300-plus images from the exhibition ‘Exile‘, a coproduction with Magnum Photos currently showing at the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum in Geneva.

The work centers on migration, not just in the “timely” or “newsworthy” sense of today’s crisis, but as a longer study of what displacement has meant, been and wrought over the past 70 years. The timelessness of the story it weaves is riveting.
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For the Salon Sauvignon-curious, a report and tasting notes from Saturday's Salon Sauvignon 2018, a most memorable crash course in Slovenian Sauvignon Blanc, in the charming setting that is Ptuj, the country's oldest city. More than 100 wines from 46 winemakers. Check it out. And tell a friend cuz wine's best when it's shared, you know. :)

#Slovenia
#Wine
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Another example of a reason to like Slovenia: the abundance of wine-related festivals and gatherings. :) Here's a quick report/notebook on a festival in the Vipava Valley village of Planina honoring Pinela, one of Slovenia's autochthonous wine grapes. With a dozen tasting notes, too.
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There’s lots of ways to celebrate a nation’s culture. Exploring its local wine grapes was among the better ways I’ve come across lately. How could I possibly say no? We visited four wineries: the Guerila, Ferjančič, Cigoj and Burja Estates, who each balance a keen respect for their region's tradition with forward-thinking cutting edge wine-making. Check it out. (Includes tasting notes on 27 wines.)
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I never had a dry wine from Tokaj before, so this, Karadi-Berger’s Tokaji Szamorodni 2010, really caught me by surprise. Off guard even. Even when the word ‘dry’ appears, prominently, in English, on the label.

It’s accompanied by another word, Szamorodni, a style –and name– which dates back to the late 18th century when Polish wine merchants, transporting Tokaji wines north as far as the Baltic, dubbed it Szamorodni, which means “self-grown”, or “made by itself”.

“It’s a strange name,” said Zsolt Berger, who along with his parter, Szilvia Karádi, operates Karádi-Berger, a 4.6 hectare (11.3 acres) property in the village of Erdőbénye, one of the centers of wine production in the fabled northern Hungarian Tokaj region. He then elaborates.

“There were two different sweet wines at that time,” he continued. The first was aszú, which was made from botrytized grapes diligently picked by hand, berry by berry, throughout the harvest and then pressed and macerated in large casks when the harvest was finished. “It was a lot of work, especially at that that time.”

The other sweet wine was easier, Berger explained, a mixture of healthy, shriveled and botrytized grapes harvested in late October, pressed and fermented together. In Hungarian it was called, Főbor, the main, or prime wine. Polish wine merchants named it Szamorodni because it was still fermenting during transport.

“If the sugar content wasn’t high enough, some barrels fermented to dry, very slowly. It could have taken years. Sometimes there was some yeast on the surface of the wine too, sometimes not. The result is a full-bodied white wine with the aromas of botrytis and some moderate oxidation.” The process, Berger said, is similar to Vin Jaune, resulting in a wine comparable in taste to a dry to fino sherry.

Karadi-Berger Tokaji Szamorodni 2010 was made with Furmint and Hárslevelű grapes -the proportions aren’t important, Berger said, only the botrytis- harvested in late October and early November, macerated for about 24 hours then fermented and aged in traditional Tokaj Szerednyei 220-liter oak barrels for three years.

Thanks to the ample amount of botrytized grapes in the mix, it lends the strong impression of a sweet nutty Tokaji on the nose but be warned: it’s dry and fruity on the palate, very much unlike anything I’ve tried before: a zesty, citrus acidity, with layers of dried apricot, candied apple and honey notes. It’s a mouthful, viscous, full-bodied, earthy and elegant. One every curious wine geek should try to cross paths with. And if you do, snatch it up.

It’s not made every year, only when botrytis hits, and quantities can be limited. Berger, founded in 2000, bottled their first Szamorodni dry in 2003. Only 3000 bottles of the 2010 were produced and is already sold out. The 2014? Just 600 bottles. Little of it leaves Hungary; what has is available in Poland and the UK.

More: https://goo.gl/w4svjK
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I’m back in the sunny mid-winter climes of Monaco for the next week or so, the perfect prompt to organize and add a few notes on six wines I enjoyed over the course of a six-day working visit to the Principality last November — posted here mainly as a reminder that good decent value French wines don’t have to come with an exorbitant price tag. Increasingly, they’re not.

I stayed and worked in the Méridien Beach Plaza Hotel, whose restaurants’ house wines consisted of the handful listed below — at least that was the case in late November 2017. These are all from Cotes de Provence, the largest appellation in the Provence wine region of south-eastern France, an area –actually, a series of several vast noncontiguous tracts– mostly known for its production of Rosé. Nearly 90% of the wine produced in the Cotes de Provence appellation is dry Rosé made from Grenache, Cinsault and a local red Tibouren; not surprisingly, the two Rosés below were the pick of the bunch, although I consider them all good values. I’m not sure how far and wide these are available, but in case you cross paths with them, here you go. Onward.
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If you're looking for a solid introduction to some reds from Croatia's Dalmatian coast, I'm here for you. :)

Here's a winning, accessible and affordable trio: Palihnić Dingač 2013, Vina Senjković Rosé Spoža 2015 and Vinarija Matuško Postup 2012. Oh -- and since it's a fairly long drive to the Pelješac Peninsula, I've tossed in a pit stop in Croatian Istria for Degrassi Wines Cabernet Sauvignon Contarini 2012. You'll appreciate the stop. :)
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If you haven't guessed, I'm all about discovering local. Drinking my surroundings. :-)

Here's another example of Pinela, an autochthonous white varietal grown almost exclusively in the Vipava Valley district of western Slovenia: dry, crisp and fresh, with soft floral aromas and ample citrus notes, and usually at its best in its youth.

Usually light lemon or yellowish in color, Colja’s 2015 Pinela leans more toward the golden end of the yellow spectrum, with grapefruit and apricot lingering on the slightly buttery finish. Medium-bodied, it spent about 18 months in stainless steel prior to release. Well-made and pleasant, delightful even, for the €8.50-9.00 price tag. It’ll likely drink well for another year.

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