Monday, 7 January 2019

Croatian Wine Regions: Croatian Uplands

January 7, 2019 — In the third article of the Croatian Wine Regions series, TCN unveils Croatian Uplands, the country's northernmost winemaking region.

Hrvatsko zagorje or Croatian uplands is most known for its indigenous white varieties Mirkovača, Moslavac, and Stara krapinska belina (lit. the old Belina of Krapina). The latter is one of the oldest varieties in the world and is considered to be the ancestor of numerous world-famous varieties like Chardonnay, Rhine Riesling, etc. In France and Germany, this Croatian variety is known as Gouais blanc and Heunisch weiss, respectively.

Other notable white wine varieties of Zagorje are Silvanac, Muškat, Pušipel, Kraljevina, and Škrlet, while international varieties include the aforementioned Chardonnay and Rhine Riesling, but also Sauvignon, Traminac (Gewürztraminer), Pinot blanc, and Pinot gris. The cultivation of red varieties in this area mostly comes down to Frankovka and Portugizac.

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As the northernmost Croatian wine region, in recent years, Zagorje has been pioneering in the domestic production of icewines but the region is also gaining recognition as a producer of some of the finest sparkling wines.

In particular, the area of Pleševica hills is regarded as the next big thing in Croatian winemaking and is today one of the most important spots on the Croatian wine map. Though it has a continental climate, this small Uplands subregion gets a lot of sun and is producing mainly Chardonnay, Graševina, Pinot blanc, Traminac, Riesling and Portugizac.

For more related content on Croatian wine regions, make sure you're following TCN's gourmet page.

Friday, 4 January 2019

Croatian Wine Regions: Dalmatia

January 4, 2019 — In the second article of the Croatian Wine Regions series, TCN unveils Dalmatia, Croatia's southernmost region.

Archaeological evidence and grapevine seeds found in 1986 at an early-Illyrian gravesite in Površje near Zadar suggest that viticulture had been present in the region as early as 3,800 years ago. In fact, the entire history of Dalmatia is heavily linked to winegrowing as that was one of the key pillars of the region's economy.

However, the real development of viticulture started with the Greek colonies and their city-state settlements on the Adriatic. Back then, the polis of Issa on today's island of Vis as well as the polis of Pharos on today's Hvar were both already well-known for producing top-quality wines. Greek legacy in Dalmatia was later continued by the Romans who conquered the Illyrians and brought winemaking in the region to an enviable level.

What followed were centuries of political and economic turmoil, including several major agriculture crises, but fast forward to 21st century, the modern-day Dalmatia is once again producing top-quality wines and is mostly focused on championing the region's native varieties.

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Dalmatia is today probably most known for being the homeland of the world-famous Zinfandel. Not so long ago, this robust red was in America considered to be native to California and recognized as a close relative to the Italian Primitivo, but as it turns out, both varieties are in fact genetically identical to an ancient Dalmatian variety called Kaštelanski crljenak (aka Tribidrag; Pribidrag), which was in 2002 confirmed by a DNA analysis.

But if they're all identical — you may ask — how can we know which variety is the ancestor? Well, the first written mention of the name Primitivo dates back to the year 1799, and Zinfandel was first mentioned in 1837, whereas the name Tribidrag dates back to the 15th century.

Etymologically, the word tribidrag is of Greek origin and roughly translates to "early maturation," just as the Italian name for this variety has its roots in Latin primativus, meaning the same — the first to ripen. On the other hand, the etymological origin of zinfandel remains a mystery.

It was also discovered that Crljenak and Dobričić were the parents of Plavac mali, one of Dalmatia's most widespread reds found mostly on the Pelješac peninsula and the islands of Brač, Hvar, Korčula, and Vis. This variety is particularly prized for its sturdiness and resistance to disease, so much so that the Dalmatians have an old saying that goes: "Praise every variety but plant Plavac mali."

Other notable Dalmatian red varieties include Plavina, Lasina, and Babić. The latter accounts for only about 1% of the production in Croatia, and the best site for this Dalmatian red is the UNESCO-listed Bucavac vineyard near Primošten.

As for the whites, Debit of Šibenik area is currently going through a renaissance and is gaining more and more recognition, but the king of Dalmatian white varieties is still Pošip, bar none. This is also the first Croatian variety with a protected geographical origin. Its natural habitat is the island of Korčula where Pošip originated through natural selection as a spontaneous crossbreed between two pre-domesticated vines, Bratkovina and Blatska zlatarica. Other notable Korčula varieties include Grk, Cetinka, and Maraština which is also widespread in other parts of Dalmatia.

Dubrovnik is most known for its Malvasia, though unlike the Istrian indigenous variety, Dubrovačka malvazija is in fact genetically identical to several Italian and Spanish varieties.

Stay tuned for more on Croatian wine regions by following TCN's dedicated gourmet page.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Croatian Wine Regions: Istria & Kvarner

January 3, 2019 — In the first article of the Croatian Wine Regions series, TCN unveils Istria and Kvarner, Croatia's westernmost region.

Istria is one of the oldest winegrowing regions in Europe, as the first vines were introduced to the region by the Greeks as early as the 6th century BCE. Today, with just a little over 6,000 hectares under vineyards, Istria carries the moniker "Croatian Tuscany" and is home to a diverse range of high-quality wines.

Wine production in Istria took a full turn in the early 1990s when new generations of winemakers started reinvigorating their family vineyards. Liberated from the socialist-era command economy in which winegrowers were basically coerced to sell their grapes to the state-controlled cooperatives, these new generations of independent winemakers could now focus on quality rather than quantity.

Blessed with the region's exceptional terroir, Istrian producers are nowadays equally championing indigenous as well as international varieties.

In terms of climate, Istria gets the best of both the Mediterranean and mild continental climate. Think palm trees covered in snow — that's Istrian peninsula in a nutshell. While summer heat is tempered by sea breezes from the Adriatic, another key factor is the closeness of the Dinaric Alps, and let's not forget to mention the heterogeneity of Istrian soil.

The terracotta-colored crljenica (red clay soil) is found in coastal areas; it is rich in iron and mainly reserved for growing red varieties, though it can also produce full-bodied and well-structured whites. The central part of the peninsula is known as the "grey Istria" because of its flysch soil (sedimentary rock with grey clay rich in limestone) which is most suitable for white varieties. And last but not least, the rolling hills of inland Istria are characterized by even more limestone, and vineyards in these areas produce aromatic, elegant wines with higher levels of acidity.

Istria Kvarner

Malvazija Istarska represents 70% of the entire production; it is the most widespread white grape variety in the region, followed by Chardonnay. Other whites include Muškat, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Sauvignon Blanc. As for the reds, if Malvazija is the queen of whites, then Teran is the absolute king of Istrian red wines, although Merlot is actually the most widespread variety. Some critics have even said that Istria could quite possibly be the world's second-best Merlot terroir after Bordeaux, its homeland. Other notable mentions include Refošk, Borgonja and Cabernet Sauvignon, but also Cabernet Franc, Hrvatica, Barbera, and Pinot Noir.

The neighboring Kvarner region, and in particular the island of Krk, are most notable for being home to Vrbnička Žlahtina. The name of this popular white grape variety comes from the fertile plains northwest from the town of Vrbnik, and the old Slavic word zlahten, which means "noble." Žlahtina is indigenous to Krk, and it is by far the island's most planted variety that produces light, fruity wines which are best consumed young.

Stay tuned for more on Croatian wine regions by following TCN's dedicated gourmet page.

Friday, 30 November 2018

IBTM World: "Croatia Must Become Wine and Gourmet Center of Region"

Through the Cheese & Wine Meetup project, Croatian wines have been presented at a total of seven international tourism fairs this year, including the IBTM World fair in Barcelona. 

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Second Best in European Union: Croatia Produced 35% More Wine This Year

Croatia is the second best in the European Union when it comes to wine production for 2018. The country produced as much as 35 percent more wine, with only Slovenia producing more in the whole of the EU.

As Miroslav Kuskunovic/Agrobiz/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 14th of November, 2018, European Commission (EC) experts have pointed out the fact that this year, faith in the wine sector has been restored after the climate crises that caused enormous concern in the past. Wine production will be be 22 percent more than it was back in 2017, and 5 percent more than the average over a five year period.

Croatia will have production of 777,000 hectoliters of wine this year, which is 35 percent more than last year, but also 23 percent less than the five-year average. The European Commission's estimate is the latest report that strongly suggests that this year, wine production in the EU as a whole will be exceptionally good in comparison to 2017, when it dropped in most countries.

The Commission forecasts that the European Union will have production of 175.6 million hectoliters, which is a significant 22.1 percent more than in 2017, and 5.1 percent more than the five-year average. Croatia is, in regard to those estimates, among the countries to have the most growth in this sector in comparison to 2017. Growth in production from Croatia has been surpassed only by neighbouring Slovenia, with an impressive 57 percent growth.

The analysis explains, as mentioned, that this year has returned faith in the wine sector after the recent production drop which was owing mainly to climatic changes, and production was at record low levels. Although this year there were still some significant climatic changes, especially in Northern Europe with some heavy droughts over summer which even saw the United Kingdom turn from green to brown, all of this had a positive impact on the production of grapes and the extremely good quality of the wine, the experts from the European Union explain.

They note that climate change, as well as disease as a ''complementary'' element in grape production due to frequent rains, frosts, droughts and the like, will have a great impact on the future as well. For this reason, the winemakers will have to apply new technologies and knowledge in grape and wine production, as was highlighted in the analysis.

The fact that Croatia will have an excellent level of wine production this year will be confirmed by some of the country's respected and leading winemakers.

"Compared with last year's grape harvest, the amount of grapes is larger, with a bit more yield. As for wine quality, we expect this year to be the highest,'' said Martina Krauthaker Grgić, from the Krauthaker winery. Sebastian Tomić from the Tomić winery says that in 2018, there was no attack of disease on the grapes.

"I dare say that this is a good year with regard to quality and quantity, that is, the quantity is better by 30 percent," noted Tomić.

"This year was really ideal, better than last year. There was no disease, the weather conditions were remarkable. The grape quality is excellent and we expect outstanding wines, balanced, mineral and full bodied,'' says winemaker Josip Franković.

"This year's vintage was excellent both in terms of quality and quantity, and the first wine from PZ Putniković can be expected on the market in March," says Ana Barać of PZ Putniković.

Want to keep up with more information on Croatian wine? Make sure to follow our lifestyle and Total Croatia Wine pages for much more.

 

Click here for the original article by Miroslav Kuskunovic/Agrobiz on Poslovni Dnevnik

Monday, 12 November 2018

Could Slavonia be Transformed into Croatian Tuscany?

Could Slavonia become Croatia's very own Tuscany through the story of its local wine? Possibly, as Kutjevo has seen a massive 54 million kuna investment into its new area.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 11th of November, 2018, on Friday in Kutjevo in Slavonia, a new investment in the Galić winery worth a massive 54 million kuna was presented, the huge investment will increase the winery's capacity by as much as one-third, as they announced.

Of the 54 million kuna, 35 million kuna was invested in the building itself and another 19 million kuna into the equipment. Winery owner Josip Galić pointed out that the winery will remain a boutique winery, and will follow all the current trends, continuing to produce quality wines, rather than focus on mass production.

"Although our winery could be considered a miracle of modern technology and has equipment that even the world-renowned wineries would envy, we're just starting to build our story in Kutjevo. The ultimate goal is to develop the whole region, we want to make a Croatian Tuscany out of Slavonia, as it justifiably deserves it,'' explained Josip Galić, the owner of the winery. The CEO of Galić wine, Andrej Markulin, pointed out that this year, the winery is celebrating ten years of business and wants to intensify its production of "serious" wines in the long run.

The winery in Slavonia looks simply like brick and concrete, but attracts tourists and wine lovers from all over the world, and the attraction is intensified just by viewing the interior and getting to know the equipment that the world's best manufacturers are currently offering.

"With new technology and equipment, we have all the conditions [available to us] to achieve this goal very quickly," he pointed out. The winery began with seven hectares of vineyards and 30,000 bottles of wine. Today, there are 55 hectares, and some of the grapes are from local wine growers.

The capacity of the new winery is 630,000 bottles, which is 30 percent more than there is at the minute, and their annual production is 330,000 litres. In addition to wine production and grape growing, Galić launched chestnut and blueberry growing this year, into which there will be an additional investment of 8.5 million kuna.

Want to keep up with more news like this from Slavonia and from across the country? Make sure to follow our lifestyle and Made in Croatia pages for more.

Monday, 25 June 2018

Encouraging Overseas Statistics See Croatian Winemakers Resort to Foreign Markets

Through the withdrawal of EU money for promotion, Croatia's winemakers have been entering new markets more successfully over the last few years.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Hvar Celebration of 150 Years of Tourism Opens With Spectacular Wine and Song Evening

Grand tasting of Hvar wines, with the hvar Winemakers' Association and Dino Petrić

 

Friday, 20 April 2018

Medjimurje Winemaker Exports to France, Germany, Sweden, and Hong Kong

The Medjimurje winery is investing European money into planting vineyards, mechanisation, and, of course, tourism.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Željko Garmaz Nominated for Gourmand Award - Food and Wine Oscar!

Dalmatia – Wine Stories, written by Garmaz, has been nominated for the title of the best book in the world writing about European wines (except for French wines).

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