Croatian Wine Regions: Slavonia & Danube

By 8 January 2019

January 8, 2019 — In the fourth and final article of the Croatian Wine Regions series, TCN unveils Slavonia and the Danube plains, the country's largest winemaking region.

The easternmost Croatian winemaking region is first and foremost characterized by the three rivers that enclose it: the Danube, Drava, and Sava. The closeness of these three rivers creates a special microclimate which is especially favorable for the cultivation of Graševina; the region's no.1 white variety.

Slavonia's darling, Graševina is in Germany known as Welschriesling, and its closest relative is said to be Elbling, though this white variety supposedly originated in northern Italy, where it is known as Riesling Italico. In Croatia, however, Graševina spreads on more than 8,000 hectares of vineyards, from the city of Daruvar, through the famous Zlatna dolina (lit. Golden Valley) around Kutjevo to the far east of Baranja, Ilok, and Srijem. However, it is often said that the finest Graševina comes from the sun-drenched vineyards of Kutjevo which is nestled in the very heart of Slavonia, in a valley surrounded by a low mountain range.

Croatian wines Slavonia

Depending on the terroir, Graševina wines can range from the delicate, refreshing styles found in western Slavonia to quite opulent, dry, fresh and mineral styles from central Slavonia, to mature, robust, full-bodied Graševina wines hailing from the Danube plains.

In addition to Graševina, the area around the eastern border of this region is also championing Chardonnay, Traminac (aka Gewürtztraminer), Rajnski Rizling (aka Rhine Riesling), and Sauvignon. As for the reds, Slavonia is mostly home to Frankovka (aka Blaufränkisch) and Zweigelt, but also Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot.

Slavonia has a cold continental climate, so as a general rule, the vineyards in this region are dominated by white varieties that produce dry, fresh and aromatic wines. Also, the region is becoming recognized for its sweet icewines that can age for decades and are regarded as jewels of this region.

And apart from its wines, Slavonia is also known for the world-famous Slavonian oak which is used for making wine-aging barrels not just in Croatia but also in neighboring Italy.

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