Category Archives: Wine

The Vipava Wine and Cuisine Festival

Grape wines have been grown in the Vipava Valley since the Roman times. Local wines and vineyards were already described by Janez Vajkard Valvasor in his book from 1689. In 1844 Vinoreja, the famous first book on winegrowing was published in the Vipava Valley, whilst 120 years ago the valley witnessed the foundation of the first winegrowing co-operative in the Carniola (Kranjska) region.

Wherever we look we see vineyards, especially on the south-west side of the valley. The unique mixture of Mediterranean and Continental climate with bura wind, with warm soil and particular terroir, produce some 25 sorts of wine here. Among the white wines are: Rebula (Ribolla Gialla), Sauvignon Blanc, Malvasia, Welsh Riesling, and Chardonnay, while the reds include Merlot, Barbera, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

But, we didn’t come to Vipava for that. Instead, we’ve embarked on an oenology journey to the domestic varieties like Zelen, Pinela, Klarnica, Poljšakica, Glera, Pergulin, Vitovska Grganja, and Pikolit.  Zelen and Pinela are considered to be unique to the Vipava Valley, which were almost forgotten in the past. Fortunately, in recent years, local people have started to again appreciate the heritage of their ancestors and there are many who grow both varieties.

The producers of Zelen of the Upper Vipava Valley founded the commercial interest Association of Konzorcij Zelen in 2003. In 2006 the Pinela’s producers also joined this association whose purpose is to protect the quality of local and unique varieties. All of these wines can be tasted at the local wine road or in the restaurants.

The Vipava Valley Wine Road is one of twenty such roads in Slovenia and one of four in the Primorska region. With 30 wine villages and its farmers it is also one of the biggest of its kind, and is well-marked by the signposts. The basic offer is high quality wines, but guests can also taste local products, foods, and drinks. Together with natural and historical sights, it can be an excellent day-out or more, depending on your love for wine. Many paths are also made for cyclists, so cyclotourism combined with wine is very popular here.

Each year in May, the Zemono Manor hosts the traditional Flavours of the Vipava Valley wine and culinary festival. Our visit to the festival was a highpoint of our tour, as all the important wine makers were there. We were focused on producers of Zelen and Pinela, but also other sorts, whose combined characteristics were floral scents, rich bouquet, and often barriqued wines.

Another excellent thing in this Festival is the opportunity to try local traditional products. One of these is prosciutto, named after the Kras region. Despite numerous technological innovations locals have retained the traditional manner of producing this speciality. Just salt, fresh air, the northern wind we call the burja, and careful watching and waiting ensure that after 12-16 months maturing you’ll be able to slice with pleasure into a truly tasty, ruby red and succulent dry-cured ham with and irresistible aroma.

The region is also famous for its cow, sheep, and goat cheese products, excellent fruits, and many other gastronomy delights. All of these can be tasted in the restaurants, inns, and agritourisms of Vipava.

Vinistra 2017

Existing for years now, Vinistra has become a major wine and olive oil event for the Istrian Peninsula. This year it is 24th Vinistra, with always excellent workshops and presenters. Last two decades saw a great dedication of Istrian wine makers in making the largest Croatian peninsula also a major wine destination. They’ve succeeded in it lovely, and there is still much work to be done.

Vinistra 2017: Malvasia

Today it is almost a rule for Istrian tourism to combine sea pleasures with wine treasures, and splendid gastronomy. Known as Croatian Tuscany, Istrian cuisine is diverse and interesting to explore, and everyone is working with a holistic approach.

Vinistra 2017: Teran

The event is famous for Malvasia and Teran awards, two signature wines of Istria, but also has many other categories, including the olive oil contest.

Vinistra 2017: Olive Oils

Champion wines are always awarded for best fresh and mature Malvasia and Teran, and for Refošk, which is Teran’s close cousin. Heavy job of the jury is understandable, but huge number of medals is still a bit strange. We appreciate there are just minor differences among the wines, and would encourage outstanding wines to receive golden medals. Otherwise, there is a major confusion over what really makes a golden-award wine.

 

Vinistra 2017: Malvasia

Every year Vinistra gives IQ brands to the fresh Malvasia 2016. This year the winners of IQ brand are Benvenuti, Brčić, Capo, Cattunar, Damjanić, Dešković, Fakin, Geržinić, Kozlović, Legović, Matošević, Medea, Novacco, Peršurić M.,Pilato, Ravalico, Sirotić, Terzolo, Tomaz, Trapan, Vina Zigante, Vivoda, Zigante d.o.o., and the IQ for best matured Malvasia 2015 is Bruno Trapan.

Istrian Malvasia is kin to the more famous Italian Malvasias (Malvasia bianca del Chianti, Malvasia del Lazio, Lamvasia delle Lipari, Malvasia di Candia, Malvasia di Sardegna). It is a recognisable Mediterranean white sort which ripens well every year and is very prone to the agro-mechanical efforts. The same goes for the Istrian Malvasia, the signature Istrian white wine. The wine is mid-strong to strong, with alcohols from 11,5 up to 13,5 vol %.

Oenologists tend to classify Malvasia as a semi-aromatic sort with rich floral and fruity aromatic potentials. Specific Malvasia reminds on the acacia flower scent, especially if the grapes are cultivated on higher and sunny terrains. Fruity aromas are predominant with apples, plums, and apricots, while the fresh Malvasia may contain slightly bitter almond flavour. Its colour usually is hay yellow with golden traits. It is very old sort in Istria, but due to different local names its first documented stories came only in the 1890-ies.

The best young Istrian Malvasia went this year to OPG Privitelio Nino. The 2016 Malvasia from Vrsar arrives directly from the barrel, as Mr Privitelio never bottled his wine, which includes besides Malvasia also Merlot and Teran. This young and fresh Malvasia is usually sold as house wine in his restaurant Speranza in village of Flengi near Vrsar, or to the wondering tourists who cherish his wine as something truly local. Mr Nino did promise, however, to start bottling his wine which is made in very classic Istrian way. Champion young Malvasia is light yellow-green in colour, but the scent is completely unusual – it contains forest berries! Its 13,4 per cent alcohol is universal Istrian recipe for the seafoods.

OPG Nino Privitelio
Flengi 31, Vrsar

The best matured Malvasia comes from the Poreč’s wine and olive oil corporation Agrolaguna. Malvasia Festigia 2013 is among top Agrolaguna’s wines, which already was awarded with the golden medal in 2014 in the category of fresh Malvasias. Stemming from the Kaštelir vineyards, this Malvasia was an instant hit and unfortunately exists only in a few hundred archived bottles. A point well taken, as it teaches wine makers to go slow with this sort as it may turn out to be a champion wine. Partly macerated overnight, later mixed, and aged in the Inox barrels, the 2013 Malvasia was bottled already in May 2014 and instantly sold in big quantities. This was really a mistake but those lucky ones certainly did enjoy in it, especially if they ate seafood.

Agrolaguna – Tasting Room Festigia
Mate Vlašića 34, Poreč
+385 91 441 9998
sanela.coga@agrolaguna.hr
www.agrolaguna.hr

We’ve also tried other Malvasias awarded with the IQ label. Benvenuti brought his Malvasia 2016 which is exceptionally fresh and mineral, fruity and very drinkable. The white Istrian soil of this famous wine maker from Kaldir and the micro-climate in this valley near Motovun produce many excellent wines of which Malvasia San Salvatore 2013 stands out. But those looking for dessert wines should definitely taste Benvenuti’s Corona Grande 2015, harmonic sweet wine with aromas of acacia honey and raisins, which we also tried at the superb Peteani restaurant.

Benvenuti Vina (Z.T.O. Benvenuti)
Kaldir 7, 52424 Motovun
fax: (0)52 691 322, m: (0)98 197 56 51, m: (0)91 583 87 56
E-mail: info@benvenutivina.com
www.benvenutivina.com

Malvasia 2016 of the Poreč’s wine maker Damjanić is another straw-yellow masterpiece of Istrian terroir. This Malvasia has a typical scent which is fruity and floral, reminds us on acacia flower, elderflower and grapefruit. It has dry, fresh, round, balanced, and harmonious taste, with a hint of bitterness. The dedication to the red soil brings with itself a tremendous efforts and love for wine making, which is rewarded this year with one golden, four silver, and one bronze medal. It is a continuation of great wines coming from the cellar of Mr Ivan Damjanić.

Ivan Damjanić,
+385 91 202 0495
info@damjanic.eu
www.damjanic.eu

A great new bottle style comes from Giancarlo Zigante who also got IQ brand for his Malvasia 2015. The whole line of wines is now bottled in a very pleasing form, which contains great wine macerated and fermented before ripening in the Inox barrels for seven months. Of course, the master of the truffle production in Istria will suggest you drink it with white truffle dishes, poultry, and mild cheese, but it pairs great with seafood too.

Another great example of Poreč region is Ritoša, whose wines are firmly becoming top quality in Istria. The job done by father and daughter, whose oenological education brings knowledge and passion together, translates in beautiful wines, of which Malvasia is just one part. We’ve tried beautiful Yellow Muscat which boasts characteristic and elegant floral scent and is ideal drink for desserts. Ritoša is also known for very good red wines, of which Cabernet Sauvignon deserves a special remark.

Ritoša Vina
Ive Lole Ribara 3, Poreč
00385(0)98 195 71 24 – VILI RITOŠA
00385(0)92 176 78 18 – ANA RITOŠA
TEL: 00385(0)52 432 069
FAX: 00385(0)52 432 106
info@vina-ritosa.hr
www.vina-ritosa.hr

Vinistra 2017: Teran

Teran is the most famous Istrian red wine, the main Istrian sort in the past. For quite long time people identified Teran with Refošk, but it is not the same vine. Teran has a characteristic ruby-red colour, with purple tones. Distinctive aroma is typically fruity, with dominant raspberry scent. Relatively high acidity and somewhat sour note gives to this wine a characteristically full, strong, robust wine which blends excellent with red meat and hearty foods, especially with Istrian prosciutto, cheese, and wild. Teran is also very old wine – it is mentioned some 600 years ago.


Photo by Vinistra

Thus, „All Faces of Teran“ workshop was indeed among the best events of this year’s Vinistra. The masterclass workshop was run by the wine master Oz Clarke, one of the chief international drinks communicator. This year’s best young Teran is Fuga 2016 by Rovinj’s Dobravac winery. The fact that last year Dobravac was awarded also for the young Teran is a proof of excellence but in a very unusual way: both his fresh Terans have been given to the selection commission to check the future potentials of these wines.

Mr Damir Dobravac knows his wine should rest for a few years, but the awards have pushed him to make a new wine brand: instead of Fuga, now he will introduce Gaspar, a line of fresh Teran. The wine from Valalta terroir was macerated for three weeks and then matured in local Istrian oak barrel called tinac or bajadur. Young Fuga has all major characteristics of good Teran: it has purple-red colour, clear and dense, with berries and cherries in scent, with a particular oak sense in the background. Fresh, strong, and enduring taste of this dry wine and its 13 per cent alcohol makes it great companion to the Istrian pork dishes.

Mr Dobravac also suggests making the famous Istrian wine soup exactly with this kind of wine. The Dobravac wine stand on Vinistra was crowdy as one can expect, and it was really nice to see young people working at the winery. The music of Dobravac winery continues with Suita (Malvasia macerated for six hours), Sonata (somewhat complex Malvasia macerated for two days), Simfonija (orange wine with 80 per cent Malvasia and 20 per cent Chardonnay, macerated for two weeks and three years in oak barrel), Toccata (cabernet sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot blend), Fuga, and Allegro (dried Yellow Muscatto).

Villa Dobravac
Karmelo 1, Rovinj
00385 52 813 006, 00385 95 90 59 215
www.villa-dobravac.com
info@villa-dobravac.com

The Winery Dešković received the best award for the mature Teran 2012. The champion comes from Kostanjica near Grožnjan and it is his third champion title: first came in 2013 for the 2009 Teran, and second in 2014 for Malvasia.


Photo by Dešković

Mr Franco Dešković remembers successful year 2012 when the teran grape was harvested quite late, in the very beginning of October. Macerated for 12 days, it spent half year in the Inox barrels before being put into the barrique for two years. After additional two months in Inox, the wine was bottled in July 2015 and won last year the golden medal at Vinistra and IQ (Istrian Quality) brand. The wine should be decanted for at least half an hour to release its beautiful berries scents and strong and deep taste. Despite its years, it is still quite fresh, with a particular pomegranate taste. Dešković’s Teran pairs excellent with red and fatty meat and invites for a visit at his vineyard.

Photo by: Vinarija Dešković

Kostanjica 58, Grožnjan
Mob. 00385 (0)98 / 197 7985
E-mail. info@vina-deskovic.hr
http://www.vina-deskovic.hr

Younger generations of wine makers continue dedication of Istrian viticulture to this noble sort of wine. One such wine maker comes from the Deklić winery which has the family wine lineage since 1920. The wines come from the area of Vižinada, which has always been a wine-growing district, with the combination of an excellent climate, a fertile red soil, and a pleasant altitude. No wonder even the medieval Knights Templar have been harvesting grapes right at this location.

Deklić’s Teran 2015 has been awarded by the Golden Medal at Vinistra; it is a balanced dry wine of beautiful and characteristic ruby colour. A fruity scent brings forest berries to the mind, while the taste is harmonious and enduring. Paired with venison, red meat, truffles, and Istrian Prosciutto, this Teran is indeed a part of a truly Istrian gastronomic experience!


Photo by: Vinarija Deklić
Deklić
Ferenci 47, Vižinada
info@vina-deklic.com
www.vina-deklic.com

Awards for Belica Wine confirm the Kastav Brand

For twelfth year in a row, the town of Kastav chose its best Belica wine, and also other wines of Kastav region. Out of 80 samples, presented by 42 wine makers and members of the Belica Association, 12 were Belica wines, which is final testimony to the hard work over the years to revitalise viticulture and wine making in the Kastav region. The grand celebration will be held on Sunday, April 23rd at 3 pm in the centre of Kastav.

The efforts to preserve this unique wine were presented at the press conference in the tasting room of Mr Dejan Rubeša, led by the director of the Kastav Tourist Board Dolores Kukurin. She announced the manifestation and congratulated the Belica Association on their hard work and dedication. The vice-mayor of the Town of Kastav Dejan Jurčić stressed that Belica was ten years ago almost extinct, but today, thanks to the Association, it became a new Kastav brand. This wine makes remarkable comeback and brings attention of sommeliers and experts, foremost Nenad Kukurin, the chairman of the international commission in the competition 2017. Other members included renown sommeliers and oenologists from Istria, Kastav region, Italy, and France.

Everything about Belica we learned from Radenko Srdoč, president of the Belica Association, and the secretary of the same organisation, Bojan Frlan. Old testimonies written by the local chronologist Ivo Jardas show that Belica was once present all over the Kastav region, where up to 10,000 litres of wine were produced. It is a unique blend, which cannot be find anywhere in the world. Among the basic wine sorts is divjaka (autochthonic wine sort), together with verdić, and mejski. After some 600 years of cultivation, due to the hard terrains and urbanisation, this wine seized to exist.

Only in the recent years did Belica made its glorious return, with some 5000 vines. It cannot really go beyond this number in a very specific microregion, which is situated on some 300-400 metres above sea level. Still, many wine makers care for this sort, as it can easily become a recognisable wine of Kastav. On regional level, this wine story fits great with the Bakarska vodica and Žlahtina in Vinodol, which makes a content-rich wine road stretching from Crikvenica and Novi Vinodolski riviera, through Bakar and Rijeka, all the way to Kastav and Opatija Riviera.

The competion was categorised in: (1) Belica; (2) homemade white wine; (3) white wine; (4) homemade red wine; (5) red wine; (6) special wines, mostly aromatic wines. The competitors won 5 golden medals, 44 silver medals, and 23 bronze medals, with additional six recognitions. The competition’s champion and golden medal award for Belica is Ivica Rubeša, followed closely with Alen Frlan, who won also a gold medal for Belica. Ivica’s borther Dejan Rubeša won third place and silver medal for his Belica which we have tried in his tasting room.

His Belica is refreshing wine with a distinctive acidity and aroma of green apples. This might be a classic idea of Belica, an easy drinking wine for pleasurable moments in warmer months. Lots of efforts should be put in making this wine, though. The vines need up to five years to deliver first good grapes. The Belica of Ivica Rubeša is substantially different than his brother’s, and the reason is that Ivica harvested his grapes just a week later, leaving more sugars inside. His Belica is complex, with less acidity, and rich in flavour. The Rubeša tasting room will become a major point for Belica degustation, and the wine is already being served in the Kastav Restaurants, foremost in Fortica and Hotel Kukuriku.

Among other golden medals are Arsen Jardas for his Chardonnay, Ivica Rubeša for Malvasia Retro, and Ivan Rubeša for Merlot.

For more info about Belica, visit the Association’s website: http://www.udrugabelica.hr

 

ZADAR WINE FESTIVAL

Zadar is one of the fastest growing wine regions in Croatia. Ever greater number of wine makers, international prizes, and large investments in wineries are a solid proof that a wine festival is much needed in this antique Adriatic town. And it happened for the first time in Zadar’s Arsenal, a medieval building in the heart of Zadar’s ancient peninsula.

More than eighty wine makers, liqueur producers and gastronomy exhibitors were present in Zadar. It shows immense possibilities to have such focused festivals the year round. The guests had several opportunities to enjoy and learn more about viticulture and oenology. Among the presentations particularly interesting for public were degustation and presentation of Istrian Malvasia, then of Graševina, and generally an introductory sommelier course.

But we came to Zadar to learn more about the subregion of Northern Dalmatia, where Zadar is situated. From many different aspects, Northern Dalmatia gives great opportunities to travel and taste local products. As most of the Croatian coast, it is separated in the islands, coastline, and hinterland. But the specific of Northern Dalmatia is Ravni Kotari. Instead of high mountains that picturesquely adorn the Croatian coastline, Zadar is surrounded by flat field known for excellent fruits, vegetables, and other agricultural products. This is also one of the regions for wine.

Basically, the wine region is divided among the coast and islands on the one side (Zadar-Biograd-Šibenik line) and the Dalmatian Zagora or hinterland. The criteria for this difference is ratio between soil and stone. It is a region where almost forgotten wine sorts thrive: maraštin, debit and pošip of white wines, and karinjanka and new imported sorts from the red ones. We’ve tried several of them.

First wine is also first Zadar’s sparkling wine that comes from small Degarra winery. This boutique winery situated in Zadar is a vision of two friends Dane Šulentić and Mate Pestić who had an idea of contributing to the growing Zadar’s wine scene. In nearby Zaton they made Primo – First Zadar Sparkling Wine, which is made using the traditional fermentation method in Pošip bottle.

Maraština is one of the biggest sorts of Northern Dalmatia – and one of the oldest. It is a rare type, indigenous to Dalmatia, golden, but forgotten until recently. It is an organic wine, rediscovered by Jokić Winery, situated in Ravni kotari, and brought back to the world as a light wine. It is also called “rukatac” because the cluster resembles a body with two arms. Maraština ripens late, so the grapes are quite sweet. Due to its flowery smell and lower alcohol percentage it is called a ladies’ wine. We tasted Jokić Maraština 2015, a white, dry, mineral and refreshing wine, with wonderful acid and fresh fruit contents.

A gracious Pošip comes from Kraljevski vinogradi – Royal vineyards in Petrčane. Director Mr Zoran Pantalon gave this name because the Croatian King Petar Krešimir IV gave the vienyards at this post in 1066 to the new established St Mary’s Benedictine Monastery in Zadar, which was run by his sister and nun Čika. They Pošip, an excellent and elegant wine with pronouced freshness, bouquet of southern fruits and elder flower, and harmonic taste, which somewhat resembles the purity of the eccesiastical orders.

From Biogad na Moru winery comes Rosé Syrah Grenache 2015. Rather new wine story is part of a bit older Sklad Group from royal Croatian town of Biograd. They do not have their own vineyards but buy the best grapes to produce excellent wine. Mr Branko Bungur started this new project in a former bakery and has large capacities.

Winery Škaulj from Nadin is yet another example of potentials and eco-production in Ravni Kotari. Among many satisfied guests in this winery was also Swedish King and Queen! We have tried its Moscato Giallo (Muškat Žuti), a clear semi-sweet wine with gentle yellow colour and very aromatic. Its bouquet boasts with fresh fruit, candid fruit, rose, and some tropical fruit. Sweet and balanced taste round up this great wine.

Figurica Winery is located in Smilčić and is one of the most modern wineries in the area. Here in complete peace and quiet mature wines made by the family Anić. But they hide a real treat – svrdlovina. This red wine with strong tanines and very young wine is like stepping to the everyday life in the past times. A mystic wine was completely forgotten and this festival returned it to life. Many older generations remember svrdlovina from their youth, but Ravni kotari didn’t see this wine for a very long time.

Another winery from Nadin, Vrsaljko, brings blend of Merlot and Syrah Nadinska rana 2015.The red wine with deep ruby colour is excellent dry wine with rich extracts. It shows well how imported red wines blissfully succeed in the Zadar area and with the inherited knowledge of Zadar’s wine makers.

Last but not least, there is red Crljenak from awarded winery Mas-Vin in Polača. Another fine example of Ravni kotari agricultural endevour, Mas-Vin is proud on its Crljenak/Zinfandel 2013 with a fantastic 15,5 per cent of alcohol. Producers remind this is the wine of our ancestors, with rich fruity bouquet and soft taste, excellent blended with the mild Mediterranean foods.

Probably the most missing representative of Northern Dalmatia is Babić. But, as this is indeed Zadar’s wine festival it should be noted that Babić is more Šibenik’s sort of red wine. Missing are also the islands, but this was a golden opportunity for Ravni kotari to shine. And this region truly deserves such an attention, as the wine is treated here as „gift from heaven, tear of Mother Earth, and source of life“. To visit the area and not see famous vineyards makes your trip utterly wasted.

Text and Photos by: Josip Paškov

JARBOLA – WINE PRIDE OF ZVONEĆA

The WineRi festival also included the association Jarbola, named after an autochthonous grape sort from Zvoneća, a mountainous area in the Rijeka’s hinterland. For centuries people cultivated this sort in “Zvonejske njivi”, a splendid example of rural architecture of stone dry walls, akin to the Bakar Prezidi.

Zvonejske njivi date somewhere between 15th and 17th centuries, and cover an area of 60 ha, on rather high 300 up to 450 metres above sea level. This height determines a distinctive acidity of local wine. Today only some 30 per cent of dry walls are cultivated, but nevertheless the locals are happy they are preserved as monument of culture since 1994.

Source: KanalRi

Wine maker Franko Ružić and other Zvoneća enthusiasts (Alen Kinkela, Marin Ružić, Alen Ružić, Gordan Kinkela, Đani Sušanj, and Ervin Stanić) gathered together in 2003 and with help of Institute for agriculture and tourism in Poreč realised a project of protecting the autochthonic sort Jarbola. This authenticity was proved by chemical analysis.

Unprecedented love for culture and heritage drives this association to work hard and accomplish remarkable renewal of the Jarbola. In 2005 they harvested first vine in old dry walls and cared for it full five years to deliver first drops of real wine. Jarbola is not an easy sort. The grape skin is thin, the bunch thick, and this makes it vulnerable to sickness.

Once accomplished, Jarbola gives full quality and freshness, with aromatic potentials, and various possibilities to explore blending it with local food. It has light yellow colour with green nuances, fruity bouquet with some blossoms and very strong aroma of green apple. Today only family homestead Ružić bottles this wine in a unique Kvarner product – Jarbola Ružić.

Franko Ružić
Zvoneća 17, Jurdani, 51211 Matulji
+385 91 509 7932
opgruzic@gmail.com
https://www.facebook.com/Jarbola-OPG-Ružić-1619272395032448

Photos by: OPG Ružić

WINE RI REPORT

For the first time town of Rijeka hosted an international wine event in its historic Governer’s Palace. An enjoyable event gathered over 70 wine makers on February 22 and 23 to somewhat uncharted territory of wine exploration in the third Croatian largest city and the country’s major sea port.

B2B meetings, lectures, workshops, and not to forget the WTF – Wine Tasting Fest, of course – party in the “Bačva” club and Wine&Coffee Bar “Kod Zajca” adorned the oeno-gastro event with participation of Par Business School, several Croatian counties and cities, tourist organisations and high-level officials.

The grand palace of Rijeka’s history was too small for such a big number of exhibitors and guests looking to try some new stuff and recollect the old wine love. Our own grand tour of the palace began in the atrium, where some of the most famous Croatian wine makers were present. As it was expected in the end of Carnival season, the wine makers and their friends were greeted by the bell ringers.

The entry point occupied Curo distribution, the Jarbola Association with a specific wine story of authentic Zvoneće wine, and Krk’s favourite Ivan Katunar whose žlahtina and chardonnay are nationally famous. Going clockwise, Katunar’s neighbour in clifftop town of Vrbnik is Gospoja wine hotel, a boutique hotel of local traditional architecture and indeed an enjoyable place to spend your wine holiday. Local Rijeka’s pride is LikeRi, a liqueur home of lemon and mint, and aronia liqueur, but special varieties include the white wine Žlahtina’s liqueur and especially interesting cannabis brandy MamyJuana.


Photo by: crikva.hr

This local introduction to the Kvarner wines included also other members of Žlahtina Association, named after famed golden island Krk and Vinodol Wine, which include prize winning Pavlomir Winery (where old traditions of wine growing have been renewed), Šipun Winery, House of Wine Ivan Katunar, Agricultural Association Vrbnik, and Nada Winery (that includes beautiful restaurant), all based in Vrbnik, centre of wine production on largest Croatian Adriatic island. Next to the littoral, the home county also proudly presented excellent and unique story of Vid Arbanas from Gorski Kotar, with his splendid brandies made from handpicked herbs and roots.

Slavonia was overwhelmingly presented at this fair. Slavonia has excellent conditions for winegrowing and winemaking. In the past, the wines of Slavonia were often found on the tables of emperors and noblemen and it is this tradition that the present Slavonian vineyards derive from: Srijem, Baranja and Đakovo in the east and Kutjevo in the west of Slavonia.

The atrium featured excellent Slavonian wineries, Galić from Velika (with standard but top wines from this terroir); Belje wines which proudly presented its “Danube Prince” Graševina that is awarded with numerous praises; and Pinkert from the Baranja’s Kneževi Vinogradi, more than a century old vineyard where Frankovka, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Graševina give the best from the land bounded by two rivers, Drava and Danube. Here is also Trs Winery from Ilok, the easternmost Croatian town, which is an agricultural community that produces “eight jewels of the Srijem terroir” (Graševina, Rhein Riesling, Chardonnay, Traminer, Frankovka, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Franka). The same wine area is home to the Krešić Winery from Šarengrad near Vukovar.

Buhač from Ilok further accentuated the red wines of Slavonia, while Krauthaker, Perak, Mitrović, and Tandara present the legendary wine territory of Kutjevo, wine growing area known from Roman times to the Templar Knights, monastic orders, right to the present day, giving an enduring name of Vallis Auera – the Golden Valley. Iuris Winery from Dalj is yet another example of ever greater tradition of Slavonian wines. This tradition is well known in the Feravino, which inherits two hundred years of tradition of wine making in Ferinčanci region. Wines from Erdut is another Slavonian brand, especially considering the white wines. Vitis Josipović is a great choice for anyone into the sparkling wines.

From Pleternica arrives Vina Markota, a rather unknown winery but with a very nice story of wine-and-rose, which the family cultivates together while offering classic Slavonian white and red wines. Also from Baranja one should try Kusić, Szabo, and Dobrovac wines. Ever growing demand is for the Slavonian red wines, which have great possibilities, such as the line of red wines from Papak Winery. This trend notwithstanding, white wines still make majority of Slavonian offer, such as the beautiful wines from Agricultural Association Orahovica which also grows hazelnuts and freshwater fish. Many Slavonian family homesteads now combine wine growing with additional agricultural business; one of these is Glavaš from Bizovac which also makes excellent semi-hard cow cheese.


Photo by: Glas Istre

Second most presented Croatian region was Istria. Wine has become a must in Istria. Naturally, times have changed, and recently, wine is not so important for the economic prosperity of this region; however, it strongly accounts for the development of a unique Istrian identity.

Noble presenters of Istrian heritage included north-western Istrian wine celebrities such as Prelac from Momjan, Savudrija’s Degrassi, Umag’s Monte Rosso, Buje’s Franković and Kabola; and Moreno Ivančić from Novigrad. This Istrian area is among the most developed wine area in Croatia. Malvasia, Teran, and Muscat grow beautifully here, and wine makers care for the heritage of local viticulture.

Poreč terroir was presented by Banko Winery, which also produces olive oil, while other Central Istrian Wineries were presented by family Deklić which will in 2020 celebrate a centenary of its existence; Legovina from Kaštelir with its beautiful Malvasias; Poletti, where six generations care for the viticulture; Vicinim, where you can also try donkey milk and meat; and sparkling wine producer Peršurić Misal from Višnjan; Pilato and Franc Arman from Vižinada. From Gračišće arrives a newbie Domaine Koquelicot, which produces French style burgundy wines, in a unique and still untested mix of Istria and France.

Medea was a wine emissary from Southern Istria, delivering its “passionate wines”, while from Eastern Istria comes Licul Romeo. A very special Istrian representative is Buzet’s Aura, the house of exclusive Istrian brandies.

Other regions were rather scarcly presented. From Dalmatia came only Skaramuča from Pelješac, giving a pleasure of tasting famous Dingač, while Kopjar from Budinšćina extinguished Zagorje eco-wine with Sauvignon Blanc, Rhein Riesling, and Pinot Noir. Kos-Jurišić winery from Donja Zelina presented the Zelina terroir near Zagreb.

As Slavonia was in the centre of interest on this festival, it is only natural to learn more about palates going along rich red wines and gentle whites of this historical Croatian region.

We await for this noble wine gathering to become a tradition in the European Culture Capital 2020, in the Port of Diversity.

Choco & Wine Festival in Brtonigla

Who is not in favour of chocolate? How about wine? In Brtonigla, a gastronomy paradise near Umag in Northwest Istria, you can easily pair both. For already five years, Tourist Board of Brtonigla prepares Choco&Wine Fest, a unique gastronomy festival in Croatia. New trends in chocolate world and local sweet delicacies have been presented together with wine champions of this Istrian municipality.

Same weekend hosted Seventh Brtonigla Adventure Trek, which gathered some 300 trekkers from several countries. Three trails, of various length and intensity, led many to appreciate the beautiful nature of this part of Istria. All of them could later come to the Brtonigla’s main square in the chocolate tent.

Sweet sense of chocolate tears the air inside, where many chocolate masters showed their expertise. Especially interesting program of cake decoration by Dragica Lukin from Vila Soši in Umag was indeed a delight. Dragica and her son Igor Lukin showed how the chocolate is rightly tempered and decorated. Vila Soši is somewhat a legendary sweet centre of Umag, dedicated to the preservation of traditional sweets and heritage of Croatian delicacies.

Choco art & show of Italian sculptor Stefano Comelli featured the chocolate jewellery, especially chocolate rings, favourite among kids and adults. As the carnival season is high, Vili Radonić from Pula made chocolate masks.

Wine was in no shortage either. Sunny weather gathered also many wine enthusiasts who indulged in wine tastings of renown Brtonigla wine makers Novacco, Veralda, and Ravalico. Istrian Malvasia and Muscat are among the best wine sorts coming from these wine cellars and go excellent with various chocolates.

The tent in Brtonigla was too small for all the guests arriving to this first gastronomy festival in the year in Istria.

Photos by: Elvis Horozović