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.
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.
Zvoneća 17, Jurdani, 51211 Matulji
+385 91 509 7932
Photos by: OPG Ružić
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.
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.
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.
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
Sremič is a hill overlooking Krško. Its green slopes are dotted with vineyards and cellars. In 1874 the family Attems, owners of Brežice Castle, built a large wooden wine press, later declared a cultural monument and probably the biggest press in Slovenia. Some hundred years afterwards a guesthouse emerged around that press and because of the three lights on the terrace, which are seen all the way to Krško, the place was called “Tri Lučke”.
The wine press remains as vital part of this restaurant today and is a testimony to the past times. From 1985 Tri Lučke gained a good reputation among locals for homemade aNd delicious food and in 2016 Igor and Andreja Zorko reopened the establishment bringing it to exquisite place of fine dining. Guests can also rest in apartments, have a wedding or a business meeting, or just enjoy the wine cellar featuring best Slovenian and international wines.
The interior of the place is minimalist and bright, with spectacular views of Sava River and Krško. It is here where owners welcomed us most dearly, with a light lemon tea to warm up before venturing off to the wine cellar for some sparkling wine tastings and innovative meaty snacks.
But the real festival for palate was at the table, just across the big wine press. The chef Dejan Mastnak and his team did excellent job to provide us with a feeling of Tri Lučke cuisine. A refreshing appetizer of red trout fillet, with potato sauce, trout caviar, and parsley oil gives delicate and rich flavours to begin with. Parsley oil is indeed a surprise, and everything goes well with Green Sylvaner 2015 of Rudi Kos from Sremič wine hills. This hard making wine sort is dry and neutral, with beautiful colour and enhances the experience of this meal.
The soup was another pleasant surprise. We got on our plates bits of fresh beef tongue, lightly fried, pieces of apple and small onions before this mix is splashed with parsley root soup cooked in a bit of milk. This mild soup also gives freshness because of the apple and all the ingredients are easily recognisable, which is a sign of very good quality.
Main course consisted of Krško-polje pork belly cooked in vacuum for 18 hours on 74 degrees, together with vegetables. Side dish is bean puree, served in a frankinja-and-pork sauce. Fatty climax of our meal is another praise of this local pork sort and a dedication to the preservation of it for next generations. It blends great with Jernej Žaren Modra Frankovka 2011, champion wine of Dolenjska region in 2015. With high sugars, this natural wine is two years barrique and is pleasant companion to heavy meals.
Our dessert is all about apples! Apple soup, apple sorbet, apple pie, with chutney aside; a rewarding and refreshing end of the gastronomy journey. Another pleasure of it is Janez Živič Laški Riesling 2009, superior quality wine (Prädikatwein) with beautiful gold colour. It surprises with its mild taste of honey and blends just right with the dessert.
Tri Lučke indeed serves as the best culinary achievement of Krško, when fine and slow dining is in demand. The historical background of it and heritage of the wine press that once pressed 30 to 50 hectolitres of must are excellent incentives to a very dedicated team.
Cviček and Modra Frankinja are proudly presented all over the Posavje region, but the wine cellar of Lojze Kerin is indeed something very special. In spring 2015 he opened the House of Frankinja (Hiša Frankinje) in their vineyard in village Straža pri Krškem. Our tour of this wine cellar was welcomed by Mr Lojze, his wife, and four his daughters. All of them cherish the place where in 1981 Kerin family planted their first Frankinja – the same year when Lojze is born!
Next to the wine cellar itself is a brick-vaulted tasting place that hides spectacular sweet wines. Besides local sorts of žametna črnina, modra frankinja, laški rizling and kraljevina, Kerin family highlights the Maria Rosa sparkling wine, but even more excellent white Frankovka, which gives almost Muscat-like aromas. Keros is another pride of Kerin winery, very tasteful wine liqueur that resembles famous Porto.
Mr Lojze even gave us a taste of his vignac, 56 per cent alcohol strong brandy that matures in wooden barrel since 2003 and still is not ready for bottling. Few drops of vignac on tongue is enough to appreciate the strength but also lovely taste of this drink.
A very special product is the First Lady Frankinja, a label dedicated to Melanija Trump, whose native region is very close.
Wine Cellar Kerin
Straža pri Krškem 2, 8270 Krško
+386 7 492 07 62
Most people think of Krško as a place with nuclear plant. Indeed, this place on the banks of Sava river is famous for its industry and nuclear power plant, which you can also visit in organised tour. But two day visit to Krško, organised by the Club of Tourist Journalists of Croatian Journalist Society and the Tourist Board of Krško, opened our eyes to this beautiful and less known part of Slovenia. From castles and Catholic monks to the pleasures of exquisite gastronomy, Krško is a pleasurable destination to visit.
Situated between Sava Valley and surrounding hills, six municipalities (Krško, Sevnica, Brežice, Bistrica ob Sotli, Kostanjevica na Krki and Radeče) form the Posavje region of Slovenia. The area is rich in history and natural beauty. It has five castles. Sevnica, Podsreda and Rajhenburg are refurbished to their past glory; in Kostanjevica is situated an art museum, while castle Brežice houses the Posavje Museum. Probably the most fascinating story is of the Rajhenburg Castle which we visited on our tour.
Old town Krško is defined by several historical and cultural points of interest. Our hosts guided us to this realm of Slovenian history accentuating local patrons and personalities that lived in Krško. The town has a rich history. In 16th century Krško was an important Protestant centre, place where Lutherans Adam Bohorič and his student Jurij Dalmatin worked. At the end of the 17th century, the famous polyhistorian Janez Vajkard Valvasor passed away in town’s historic centre, in Mencinger House. This house used to be home to the lawyer and writer Janez Mencinger. In the old town one can also find the Valvasor library with a Capuchin monastery, the town park, the parish church of St. John the Evangelist, and the Krško City Museum.
We started our tour in the city park. In one part of the park named Gaj zaslužnih občanov (Grove of deserving citizens) we can ‘meet’ the psychologist Mihajl Rostohar, the trained sculptor and medallist Vladimir Štoviček, the educator and grammarian Adam Bohorič, the translator and writer Jurij Dalmatin, the botanist France Vardijan and the patroness Josipina Hočevar. The park was once a graveyard with the church of the Holy Cross. The church still stands, but has not been used for religious purposes since the end of the Second World War. After the renewal in 2003 it was named Dvorana v parku (Park hall) and various cultural and other events are held there. The park also contains the Hočevar mausoleum, an octagonal neo-Gothic chapel with a pyramid roof, where Martin and Josipina Hočevar – the great benefactors of Krško – are buried. They donated their money for various charitable causes. Nearby is the Capuchin monastery holding the Valvasor library of Krško.
Next we visited the Mencinger house. During the years from 1882 to 1912 the cultural worker, politician and jurist Dr. Janez Mencinger lived in this baroque residential building. Janez Mencinger (1838-1912), writer, lawyer and politician, came to Krško in 1882. Five years later he chose two marvelous houses in old part of town to be his home. Mencinger is known as a writer of novels, and was among the founders of the Slovenian Writers’ Association in 1872, two years latter he was also a Mayor of Krško.
Both houses have indoor atrium and a number of interesting elements that bear witness to centuries of life in them. Southern house is particularly famous because today we know that this is the traditional Krško house in which has lived and died a famous polymath Janez Vajkard Valvasor. Today this is the site of some furniture memorabilia and also place for indoor gardens. Particularly important are the frescoes of early Slovenian Protestants.
But the real jewel of history and culture is the City Museum Krško. It has its premises in the Valvasor complex, where a permanent exhibition by the sculptor and medallist Vladimir Štoviček is displayed, who donated part of his artworks to the Municipality of Krško to be displayed in the Valvasor house.
There is also an exhibition dedicated to Josipina Hočevar, grand patron of the city, and famous Slovenian psychologist Mihajlo Rostohar. The museum also has a space exhibiting handicraft products of the border area as part of the ‘Path of honey-bread making’ project between Krško and Zagreb.
Indeed, such a cultural wealth is only matched by excellent gastronomy offer, rivers and woodlands with rolling hills that offer many sport activities, and enjoyment in the sacral architecture and heritage.