DANCH & GRANGER SELECTIONS
Importer of Memorable Wines from the New Old World of Eastern and Central Europe
Importer of Memorable Wines from the New Old World of Eastern and Central Europe
In the Press
OUR NEWSLETTERS
Válihalla
Válihalla
At, and always at, the expense of a pun, the title isn’t actually too far from the reality at Válibor. In Norse mythology, Valhalla is a majestic temple where soldiers killed in battle go to drink excessively, eat copious amounts of pig, maintain battle readiness, and are reborn daily until Odin needs them to fight during the Ragnarök (Doomsday). Apart from the death in battle and doomsday bits, this has largely been my experience over the past few years at Péter Váli’s. Because you’re tasting non stop as he cooks and platters of meats and veggies fill the time in between, before you know it, you’re well into the weeds. Continue > >
Smokvica ‘Em If You Got Em
Smokvica ‘Em If You Got Em
Croatia, easily the most touristed of any country we work with, has had very little incentive to change the status quo in terms of wine and food. A guaranteed clientele riding high on the Honeymoon effect and willing to spend a little extra on top of that. Some of my best food experiences have been in Croatia along with the absolute overpriced worst in all of Central Europe. Continue > >
All Bets are Herrenhof
All Bets are Herrenhof
As a part of my due diligence before meeting Gottfried for the first time back in 2018, I stumbled upon some older Youtube clips he had posted. One of them had a Kraftwerk meets Mission Impossible vibe in black and white where he speeds to the city of Graz to make a clandestine hand off of his very last bottle of Verjus. Back then I thought it was weird and funny, but in the years since I’ve come to understand that the underpinnings of the video are in fact dead serious. He does see himself on a zero compromise mission that befits the soundtrack and aesthetic of this video. That mission is the Buchertberg hill. Continue > >
The Law of Kasnyik and Effect
The Law of Kasnyik and Effect
Less than a two hours drive northwest of Budapest and only 20 minutes northwest of Bott Frigyes you’ll arrive in the village of Strekov. If you opt for the bus, I recommend hitting up one of the cheese vending machines and then washing it down with a bottle of Kofola (the Czech rival of Coca-Cola). It’s immediately apparent that you’re in a border area. Strekov was first mentioned in 1075, but has largely been shaped by the Kingdom of Hungary, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, Czechoslovakia, attempted Germanization by the Nazi’s, briefly back to Hungary, back to Czechoslovakia under 40+ years of Communist rule, and then finally becoming independent after the Velvet Revolution in 1989 Continue > >
Oppan Garam Style
Oppan Garam Style
The front label of the 2019 Olaszrizling pretty much sums it up. It would be a single guess Pictionary drawing for Bott Frigyes. It also describes exactly how I first came to visit them. Heading north from Budapest you’ll pass the Basilica of Esztergom along the shores of the Danube. It’s as impossible to miss in person as it is on the label. In the service of superlatives, this is the tallest building in Hungary, contains the largest altar painting on canvas in the world, is the standard bearer for Renaissance art in the country, and is the seat of the Catholic Church in Hungary. Continue > >
I am Iron Gate Man
I am Iron Gate Man
This is a COVID time capsule on the importing front. Vaskapu Kastély (Iron Gate Castle) was on my Spring 2020 itinerary that was never to be. A mutual colleague in Hungary had already visited and verified the vineyard and cellar info that checked all of my boxes. It was everything else that I was missing. Géza and I ended up speaking over the phone and it was like I had already visited and was simply following up with a purchase order. We had so many mutual friends and shared points of view that I’m surprised our paths hadn’t crossed earlier. Continue > >
Beltiug! Beltiug! Beltiug!
Beltiug! Beltiug! Beltiug!
Transylvania has always been a bit of white whale for us. I don’t think you can get further away from what we think of as Europe while still being in Europe. This is where horse carts often outnumber cars, self-sufficient agriculture is the norm, there are more fortified Churches than anywhere else in Europe, and where Vlad the Impaler once vertically impaled nearly 20,000 people on display near the city of Târgoviște to intimidate the Ottomans. Literally translating to "beyond the forest," it also has an unbroken winegrowing tradition going back at least 2000+ years. Continue > >
Chim chiminey Chim chim cher-ee. A sweep is as lucky as lucky can be
Chim chiminey Chim chim cher-ee. A sweep is as lucky as lucky can be
In between evacuations, mass destruction, virus and smoke ridden air, and a litany of other tragedies, there were still harvest photos like this. And while no one burst into song or choreographed dance during this mess of a vintage, there’s an optimistic and determined mindset that can be both seen above and tasted in the fall release from KEEP Wines. Continue > >
Wetzer Side Story
Wetzer Side Story
Much like the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, Péter Wetzer is a Tony like figure caught in between the extremes of the natural wine spectrum. While you can certainly find him at a natural wine fair, he’d be horrified to find himself covering up a faulty wine with “natural arguments.” He also jokes that he has no intention of working with amphora/qvevri, making skin contact whites, or anything outside what he’s been doing for the past 13 years. He’s stubborn in getting after what he wants, but not reactionary or guided by dogmatism. It’s refreshing to work with him. Continue > >
ANDERT ALS DIE ANDERN
ANDERT ALS DIE ANDERN
Nothing hooks a wine buyer like a German play-on-words referencing an Austrian winery, the Weimar Republic, a compassionate look at homosexuality in cinema, and said film being later burned by the Nazis. Tragically, I didn’t think of it. I did however notice the #andertalsdieandern from Andert’s Instagram and did a little due diligence. The original title “Anders als die Andern” literally translates to “Different from the Others.” This is exactly what I hope to get across about Erich and Michael, their land, and their wines. Continue > >
I wish I were an Oszkár Maurer Winery
I wish I were an Oszkár Maurer Winery
There’s exponential change happening right now in the Central and Eastern European wine scene. Serbia is no exception. When I first visited Oszkár Maurer in 2015, we had to meet just over the border in Hungary at a restaurant because our rental car wouldn’t allow us to enter Serbia. Insert politics here. He only had a few wines to show and it was more about what’s to come than what he had at that moment. Since then we’ve visited multiple times, walked through his Kadarka planted in 1880 among many other incredible vineyards from the turn of the century, and his wife Irene has cooked some of the best food on any of our trips. Continue > >
The Bearded Daddy of the Mátra Mountains
The Bearded Daddy of the Mátra Mountains
During the 1980s, Mátra produced over 40% of Hungary’s wine exports — cheap industrial table wines. It’s still the second largest appellation in Hungary and many of the Soviet era COOPs have since been privatized and continue to churn out large amounts of wine to supermarkets. This left very little room for small family wineries and since the reputation was mostly cheap bulk wine, there wasn’t much incentive either. Over the past 10-15 years, a few growers have been taking advantage of cheap land costs and are doing something special. Along with Bálint Losonci, Fanni and Gábor Karner, and a small handful of other small, organic, and minimal intervention winemakers, Levente Major is just getting started adding his wines to this new Mátra. Continue > >
Lock, Štoka and Two Smoking Barrels. New arrivals from the Kras, Slovenia
Lock, Štoka and Two Smoking Barrels. New arrivals from the Kras, Slovenia
Every newsletter is now more or less based on where I would have visited in the past few months if not for current circumstances. While an embittered rant is more than tempting, it’s also been an excuse to reach out to producers, talk more life than wine, and in a way taste these wines without the often rushed “honeymoon” effect of visiting. It’s also forced me to deep dive into some minutia and other ways of thinking about the wines given the shared experience we’ve all had for the past few months. Easily diagnosable as escapism, hopefully it’s useful and interesting as well. Continue > >
By the Power of Grayskull! New “Hei-mann” (& Fiai) Arrivals
By the Power of Grayskull! New “Hei-mann” (& Fiai) Arrivals
The Heimann family has been seeking out the best clones of Kadarka and where to plant them for the past 25 years. With the help of the Pécs University Research Institute, locating old vines, and then grafting and raising them in nurseries, they have helped bring back Kadarka from near extinction. This was a grape that once covered over 60,000 hectares in Hungary (plus more in other countries) but was whittled down to less than 400 hectares by the end of Communist rule in the early 1990s. After years of trial and error starting with upwards of 30 clones, they’ve narrowed things down to a handful of the very best Kadarka and Kékfrankos. Continue > >
Pošip Comes to Shove…
Pošip Comes to Shove…
One of my perennial favorites are the Pošips from The Toreta Winery on the Island of Korčula, Croatia. Even with the frustration I feel due to otherwise being in Croatia this April, these wines still manage to put a smile on my face. The Island of Korčula is the spiritual home of Pošip and by all accounts, was first discovered here. There’s even a monument dedicated to it. The Island's winemaking history dates back to the Illyrians, but had its longest run as a part of the Venetian Empire for nearly 400 years until the late 1700s. Continue > >
The Covidsation
The Covidsation
A mere month ago I was looking forward to therapeutically ranting about how Piquentum’s last vintage was accidentally frozen and destroyed inside the container last Spring. A mere month ago, that passed as a rare tragedy that I could utilize in order to guilt you into giving me a chance to pour you these wines. A simpler and more wholesome time.

Given the current state of affairs, striking the right tone is much more difficult than originally planned. On the one hand, many of you are feverishly building up your curbside pickup, ecommerce and figuring out delivery. Others have been forced to lay off scores of friends and colleagues and are unsure of the path forward. On top of that there’s stimulus and other forms of relief just now coming online. It seems too early to know what this all really means for our wine and food scene at large. Continue > >
Enter Sandman (and a woman): New Arrivals from Petra and Balázs Sziegl and Oszkár Maurer
Enter Sandman (and a woman): New Arrivals from Petra and Balázs Sziegl and Oszkár Maurer
The largest wine region in Hungary is the Duna and includes the Hajós-Baja, Csongrád and Kunság appellations. It covers most of the area south of Budapest and in between the Danube and Tisza Rivers. It is almost entirely sand and loess. Before phylloxera, the wines weren’t very well known, but once everyone realized that it was basically immune to the louse, plantings greatly increased. Then Communism came and the area was forced into the mass production of off-dry reds, sweet sparkling, and other nameless table wines. Largely overlooked and seen as a lower shelf supermarket wine region, there're of course a ton of old vines and a number of people doing really special things. Petra and Balázs Sziegl and Oszkár Maurer are two such examples. Continue > >
These are a few of my favorite wines…
These are a few of my favorite wines…
Visiting Geyerhof and having them entrust me with their wines often makes me feel like they can’t possibly know who I really am. The result of 14 generations since the 16th century all occupying the same place with the same function all add up to a weight that I don’t feel I can lift. During the 1920s, Georg Ritter von Trapp (yes, the dad from The Sound of Music) was even managing the brick and clay operation here. Continue > >
A Terrific 2019 and a potentially Tariffic 2020
A Terrific 2019 and a potentially Tariffic 2020
Since starting this new venture last July and helping Blue Danube wind down into retirement, we would like to thank you for all of the support and risk taking that’s involved in working with a portfolio like ours. There are of course a myriad of things that need to be improved and a bunch of new producers and wines from existing producers that I’m dying to bring in, but the last 6 months have been super promising due to you. Thank you thank you. Continue > >
“We are not normal.” – Judit Bodó
“We are not normal.” – Judit Bodó
The first winery I ever represented from Tokaj was Bott Pince. 11 vintages later, a relationship built in both Hungary and California, and having witnessed both our families and businesses grow, it’s long overdue I dedicate a newsletter to Judit and József Bodó. They are the kind of people whose first impression makes you pray the wines will be delicious in order to justify spending as much time with them as possible. Continue > >
KEEP Fall Release - Vermentino, Albariño, Syrah & Carignane
KEEP Fall Release - Vermentino, Albariño, Syrah & Carignane
If memory and searching Gmail serves, I first met Johanna and Jack back in 2013 when I would attempt to sell Central European wines in wine country but undoubtedly have extra wine by day’s end. I would then take said open bottles to a mutual friend’s house in Napa and have local winemakers come by to cook, eat, and make the best of it. It also helped keep one foot in the California wine community. Continue > >
An Outlier in the Vulkanland: Herrenhof Lamprecht
An Outlier in the Vulkanland: Herrenhof Lamprecht
About an hour West of the Hungarian border and 2 hours south of Vienna you’ll find 9 hectares sloping down between fruit orchards planted to Adelfränkisch, Affenthaler, Augster Gelber, Auxerrois, Bettlertraube, Blaue Frankentraube, Blauelbling, Blauer Arbst, Blauer Elbling, Blauer Hängling, Blauer Sylvaner, Blauer Wildbacher, Blaukölner, Bouquet-Silvaner, Bourguignon, Elbling, Frühburgunder, Frühe Magyartraube, Furmint, Gelber Langstieler, Gelber Traminer, Gewürztraminer, Goldriesling, Grauburgunder, Grüner Sylvaner, Grüner Veltliner, Grünfränkisch, Hartblau, Heunisch Rotgestreift, Heunisch Schwarz, Honigler, Jubiläumsrebe, Kleinberger Kerner, Kleinedel, Kleiner Burgunder, Morillion, Muskat-Gutedel, Muskateller, Neuburger, Ortlieber, Peloursin, Piros Furmint, Riesling, Roter Elbling, Roter Gutedel, Roter Hänisch/Pamid, Roter Heunisch, Roter Traminer, Roter Veltliner, Rotgipfler, Sauvignon Blanc, Scheurebe, Schlehentrauben, Schwarzurban, Süßschwarz, Tauberschwarz, Trollinger, Weissburgunder, Weiße Orleans, Weisser Gutedel, Weißer Heunisch, Weißer Kadarka, Weißer Lagler, Weißer Räuschling, Weißer Tokayer, Weißer Veltliner, Welschriesling, and Zierfandler. Continue > >
From (just West of) Russia with Love
From (just West of) Russia with Love
New arrivals from Serbia, Hungary, Slovakia & Austria
This container has been a long time coming and only the second under the Danch & Granger label. On a personal level, there’s a real when/if the rubber will meet the road with these choices. No one to my knowledge has ever imported a Bakator from Serbia (or any country), or a skin contact Juhfark from anywhere either. Continue > >
Not Now Cato! New Balkan Arrivals
Not Now Cato! New Balkan Arrivals
After an extremely long and tragedy ridden dry spell, we are finally delving back into the Balkans. And whereas most of my travel and experiences are focused further northeast in Central Europe, I’ve probably hosted more producers in California from these regions. Miha Batič was my first ride-a-long ever and was the first winemaker event I ever convinced/begged anyone to do. Continue > >
Sweet heaven, I'm in Love Again
Sweet heaven, I'm in Love Again
As a semi desperate reach aimed at introducing some new Tokaj wines in the context of the 4th of July, there is a Thomas Jefferson connection. Jefferson, a big collector and importer of wines, spent a small fortune on a shipment of Hungarian wines (including dry and Aszú from Tokaj) that arrived in 1804. He proudly shared them with Federalist senators and even noted, “I can assure you that they are esteemed on the continent of Europe among the best wines of Europe, and with Champagne, Burgundy, Tokay are used at the best tables.” Post presidency, he also received some cuttings from Tokaj and planted them at Monticello. So there, be patriotic and follow suite some 215 years later:) Continue > >