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
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
When you come to Krško, be sure to visits its surroundings. The countryside of Posavje region is the land of pristine flavours, traditional food, and excellent wines. These delights locals call the “River of Flavours” and indeed it is. You will first receive a warm greeting and an amazing hospitality, just as we experienced it in the restaurant Ribnik near Brestanica.
Typical local dishes in Posavje include flat cake with overheated cream (puhla s pregreto smetano), flat cake with cottage cheese (cop na lop), buckwheat cake (bizeljski ajdov kolač), cottage cheese dumplings (pečeni sirovi štruklji), carrot soup (korejevc), Krško-polje pig delicacies, colt, fish… everything cooked with fresh, authentic and local ingredients. Local action group Posavje is very active in raising the value of local products and services, establishing locally based sustainable food supply, and overall development of rural regions.
One such product is Krško-polje pig (krškopoljski prašič), the only autochthonic Slovenian pig sort. It is historically raised in the Dolenjska region, which abounds with valleys, already in 1850ies. This black-and-white pig gives particularly soft and delicious ham and praised lard. Especially pleasing are dried meat products, which go well with cviček.
In place of Raka, the Tourist Association Lovrenc Raka began a project “Best from Raka”, an innovative conception of presenting the autochthon onion sort (čebula, raška č’bula). They try to promote this piece of local agricultural heritage further in local and national restaurants and inns, as unavoidable part of the Slovenian culinary offer.
Raka was once famous for red onion, grown in hard but fertile ground. Almost every household had onions to sell, and the seed was carefully preserved. Raška č’bula was once staple food, used every day in local homes. It is powerful antiseptic which protects from illness and strengthens immunity. It is eaten raw, with sausages, ham, or just with bread. Local folk medicine also used this onion to cure. Today, probably the most famous čebula grower was Mr Učnik, grandfather of Melanija Trump who was born in nearby Sevnica!
We learn more about raška č’bula in the Cvičkov hram wine house. This is the centre point of Raka events. Day of St. Lawrence is onion and wine day, and traditional fire-fighter party is being held. People also walk through the Čebula path from Raka to Krakovski gozd and Kostanjevica. We try the specific čebula onion soup with bits of bread soaked in it (čebulova juha). Quite simple and different from the famous French onion soup, it replenishes body and soul. No wonder, as it was usually served after the Sunday church mass. This onion blends well with marinated trout, with mushrooms and salad, as basis for onion jam together with pork roast, or as an onion pie.
Čebula also goes well with cviček, wine classified with recognised traditional name. It has quite unique blend of various reds (modra frankinja, žametna črtnina – 70 per cent) and white varieties (kraljevina, laški rizling, rumeni plavec, zeleni silvanec – 30 per cent). It is a dry wine with low alcohol, up to maximum 10 per cent, and somewhat higher acidity. Cviček enchants with its light red colour and ruby casts; Slovenes are particularly proud of it. It has fresh fruity aromas, with an emphasis on raspberry and cherry. Our hosts claim it also has healing properties!
Cviček is known in this region since 1500’s and mentioned even in the great Slovenian historian Valvasor’s work as Marwein, a jolly wine of Dolenjska. Today, some 20 million litres of cviček is produced in Dolenjska region, and cviček wine maker association numbers more than 200 people. In Raka they gather in Cvičkov hram (the embassy of cviček), which has educative and pleasurable parts. In the basement is a wine cellar that can accommodate up to 70 guests. We enjoyed it with opnion soup and homemade sausages and bacon, while listening to gorgeous Lovrenci male a cappela band. The upper floor is made of oak logs and is a modern version of the 18th century house (gorniki).
Another famous wine of Posavje region is Modra Frankinja (Blue Franconian). It is one of the most favourite red sorts in continental parts of ex-Austro-Hungarian Empire. In Slovenia, Posavje and Podravje (regions characterised by the Sava and Drava rivers) offer a particularly good terroir for this wine. It contains lots of antioxidants, making it perfect wine for meaty and fatty meals, full of cholesterols. Modra frankinja is also part of cviček.
A special treat is to book your accommodation in a vineyard cottage (zidanice). It is a unique trademark of Posavje, where lots of vineyard cottages, wineries, and wine cellars make a heaven for wine tourists. Most wine cottages are not at all small or excessively rustic – they are now real villas in the rural surroundings of Posavje wine hills.
Not so long ago, it was thought that Zagorje cannot produce high quality wines. Wine estate Sever in Klanjec is one of many opposing evidences. Situated on the southern slopes of Cesargrad Hill, Sever family cares for viticulture since 1989 and today they produce some 60 thousand litres of wine per annum.
In Sever winery you will find Pinot Grigio, Rhine Riesling, Graševina (Welschriesling), Muscat, Traminer, Sauvignon and Chardonnay of white wines, and Frankovka (Blaufränkisch), Merlot, and Portugizac (Blauer Portugieser) of red ones. Sever’s wines are awarded in Zagorje and beyond with golden prizes for several years now, especially for its Muscat Yellow and Sokol.
The family is especially known for cultivating authentic sokol wine sort. This is an old sort brought back from the old times. Because of its hard skin, it is favourite grape to eat. The wine has scent of Traminer, but without very intensive aromas. It is great addition to mild cheese, corn bread, and pumpkin seed oil. Apparently, sokol was served in Erdödy’s castle in Klanjec, and its cultivation was given to the Fransiscan order in Klanjec. Franciscan monks used the terroir of Broz’s hill (Brozov breg), which boasts with splendid views of Klanjec, Sutla valley, and Klanjec vineyards.
You can try Sokol, which is limited quantity wine, in the Sever tasting room and wine cellar. Tastings are often done on top of vineyard, in an old-fashioned Zagorje klijet (wooden wine house). With great drop of wine and degustation of authentic Zagorje meals, guests can enjoy the Zagorje hospitality and spectacular views.
Kumrovečka 4, 49290 Klanjec
Filip – 098 778 508, Zvonko – 098 315 182, Jakov – 098 696 636
Tel. – 049 550 180, Fax. – 049 502 147
e-mail – email@example.com
fb page – vinarija TRS sever
Photos by Vinarija Sever
It is 11th time that professor Ivan Dropuljić and his team organises VINOcom, the Zagreb International Festival of Wine and Culinary Art, in the luxury Esplanade Hotel in the centre of Croatian capital. This exceptional two-day event is indeed the place where every serious wine maker shows up. And the visiting numbers soared this year.
It was really hard to pass all the wine fans, together with substantial number of young, student-aged people, who took the opportunity of relatively small price of entry to enjoy drinking exquisite Croatian and foreign wines. And while the desire of drinking might be worrisome in their age, there is a comfort of knowing that they are interested in quality wines. Whole public space of Hotel Esplanade was too small for all the enthusiast, wineries, and culinary guests. We can only applaud for the organisation!
Every Croatian wine region was present: from the famous wine counties in Slavonia and Međimurje, to the Istrian terroirs and Dalmatian islands, not omitting some rising wine powers in Moslavina, Plešivica, Dalmatian hinterland, Krk, and many other places. International presence from Slovenia, Montenegro, Italy, Macedonia, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina was small but gave additional accent on getting to know new wineries in new territories, and to revisit some known flavours.
And while every winery is worth to stop by and have a few words with sip of wine, it is almost impossible to comprehend everyone in these two days. Still, a common trend is quite visible. White wines are almost everywhere refreshing, bright, fruity, and easy to drink. Red ones are full of flavour and bouquet, serious and rich. Quite a number of sparkling wines emerged in the last few years and VINOcom was an opportunity to taste some of them.
The workshops throughout the event gave a great accent on rising topics in wine industry and wine consummation today. Some of them were dedicated to the specific terroirs and regions in Croatia. Black Gold of Slavonia stressed the opportunities of red wines in the eastern regions of Croatia, known particularly more for its white varieties. Still, as some of the wineries already show, the opportunities are far more than traditional Frankovka.
Evolution of Škrlet was another interesting workshop, focused on rather unknown wine from Moslavina. Škrlet experiences quite a renaissance in last few years, becoming a wine of national importance and solidly presented by the Moslavina wine makers at the fair. A special story was also dedicated to Traminac from town of Ilok and renown Iločki Podrumi winery. Wine from the Principovac area in Ilok is cultivated continuously from 1710, and Traminac is most rewarded wine of Croatia, preferable at the royal courts and bishop palaces.
Last decade saw re-emergence of many old and lost wine sorts, and one of them is Zlatarica, from island of Korčula and from the Dalmatian Hinterland, in Vrgorac, and also in Neretva Valley. The tasting of Zlatarica from the four local wineries in Vrgorac/Neretva region is definitely a step forward for going back to the roots.
Interdisciplinary research into hedonism, culture, and art started to combine wine with particular forms of art or activity. Similar was on this VINOcom, where participants could enjoy movie sets with wine tasting of Marche products of Italy. In another workshop one could find out how French language influences the tradition of wine making, or what are the wines that matured in sea for 240 days.
The guided tastings of glamorous French wines also took place, with accent on Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste, where tastings of legendary Bordeaux of 1996, 2000, 2005, 2009, and 2010 took place. According to the classification made in 1855, this is one of five grand cru classe selection of Chateau Medoc region. Another interesting workshop was tasting of Chateau Margaux Grand Vin Premier Grand Cru classe from 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. Such a knowledge was costly, but pays well.
Of course, besides wine, culinary art of Croatia is presented in a special tent, where visitors could taste cheese, olive oil, oil and smoked fish, prosciutto, sausages, truffles, and other traditional Croatian delicacies. One cannot omit several producers of rakija, whose products were high on wish lists.
As VINOcom entered its second decade, one must congratulate Prof. Dropuljić on hard work and even harder coordination. In many ways, Croatia is a country whose wine production should only be discovered, and a great deal is done in last eleven years through this festival, but also work throughout the year.
Photos by: www.vino.com.hr
Hotel Well in Terme Tuhelj, together with winemakers from Zagorje, are organising an awesome program where the visitor will be able to enjoy the wines made by premium winemakers from Croatian zagorje, including Vuglec, Sever, Zdolc and Prekratić.
You’ll be able to enjoy their wines this whole week, and on the day of the concert, there will be a free wine degustation. After drinking some amazing wine, you will be able to enjoy wonderful concerts.
September 16-18, Buje
The Festival of Grapes is one of the most important and most splendid of festivals in Buje. It comprises entertainment and sports activities for children, youths and elderly citizens alike.
A very interesting part of the festival demonstrates how the local wine called mištel was produced according to an old recipe from Buje. This event is the very heart and soul of the festival. Recently, it has been held at Liberty Square – renamed the Court of Bacchus for this occasion – in the old part of the town. The procession reaches the Court; the grapes are unloaded into large barrels, and then crushed under the bare feet of young maidens, as in times gone by.
Visitors can also expect to find books and publications dealing with wine, as well as enjoy concerts, prize-winning games and many other surprises.
September 1-30, Jastrebarsko
Traditional Wine Festivities are being held in September since 1992. They promote wines and winemakers of this region and announce the new harvest – it’s the most important festival and social event in Jastrebarsko and its area. Events at the place of Jastrebarsko Fair begin with the traditional parade from the Strossmayer Square to the tent.
For four days people of Jastrebarsko and their guests can enjoy a rich cultural program, wine tasting with culinary delights and evening entertainment – it is definitely an event not to be missed! In addition to the events on the Plešivica Wine Road and in the tent at the Jastrebarsko Fair, Jastrebarsko Wine Festivities also include wine-themed exhibition openings, a famous KotloVINA show – competition in meat cooking and numerous popular sports events, such as Jastrebarsko Wine Trekking. The Festivities are enriched with the Dionysus Nights which were held on the wine farms along the Plešivica Wine Road with great food, wine, and music.