Friday, 30 September 2022

Istrian Kabola Winery Receives Two More International Awards

September the 30th, 2022 - The well known Istrian Kabola winery is no stranger to international recognition and awards, and two more prestigious international awards will only push this Istrian winery even further into the limelight.

As Morski writes, two international awards - Luxury Awards in the category of Best Organic Wine Production Company 2022 and Prestige Awards in the category of Vineyard of the Year - have arrived at the doors of the Istrian Kabola winery. According to many people, this is by far the most beautiful Istrian estate of all.

Both awards come from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and are annual awards given by respected British publications. The best ones are decided by readers online, as well as by an expert jury.

Connoisseurs of the wine scene know that both of these awards have definitely ended up in the right hands, because the Istrian Kabola winery was the first of all on the Istrian peninsula to venture into organic production, which is why all its labels have had the BIO certificate since back in 2009, and it is also the first winery in all of the Republic of Croatia to have started with the production of wine aged in amphorae.

The awards given to the owners of the winery, the Markezic family, who are still very busy working in the vineyards because this year's harvest is still in progress.

"We started harvesting around August the 25th this year, two or three weeks earlier than in previous years due to the extremely hot and sunny summer. Early Chardonnay and Pinot Gris varieties were harvested, and we're using them to produce our RE Kabola sparkling wine. We've just finished harvesting the Malvasia, which accounts for 70 percent of the total production of our grapes and wine,'' explained famous Istrian winemaker Marino Markezic, announcing yet another excellent wine year.

The vineyards on the estate of the Istrian Kabola winery withstood this year's horrendous drought very well thanks to the soil in the microlocation of Momjanstina, which is rich in marl that retains moisture more easily.

It's worth noting that wine and the production of it has been present within this family and has been a tradition for more than 130 years now, and the Markezic family live in harmony with nature. Their cellars have always been the Istrian avant-garde, their wines are widely appreciated, recommended by the most famous sommeliers and offered by prestigious restaurants in many locations. Their winery in Kanedol is a must-see destination for tourists from all over the world, and the film industry also loves it, given the fact that just a few years ago, scenes for a Hollywood blockbuster were filmed on the property.

"Awards always make us happy, but the best reward is the recommendation of our clients and guests who return to us year after year and truly enjoy our wines," concluded Markezic.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Made in Croatia section.

Thursday, 7 July 2022

Five Croatian Wineries Achieve High Ratings at Wine Enthusiast

July 6, 2022 – Today, the Croatian Wine Alliance, a group of global teams promoting Croatian wines, reports that Wine Enthusiast, one of the top US-based wine publications with international ratings, gave five Croatian wineries and 12 wines ratings over 90 points showcasing the consistent quality of Croatian winemaking. The top three include the highest-ever 97 points for Saints Hills 2016 Ernest Tolj Plavac Mali Dingač, 95 for Saints Hills 2017 St. Lucia Plavac Mali, and 95 points for Volarević 2018 Platinum Plavac Mali. 

“Everyone within the Croatian Wine Alliance is excited that Croatian winemakers are getting rewarded for the quality of indigenous varieties, and we encourage wineries to continue to submit wines to leading global ratings and competitions,” said Mirena Bagur, the leader of the Croatian Wine Alliance, and founder of Croatian Premium Wine Imports, Inc., importer and online retailer with 70+ Croatian wines. “According to Wine Enthusiast’s rules, all wines need to be available for purchase in United States and they ship to most states.”

“We are honored that our wines are recognized by this magazine of global impact,” said Ernest Tolj, owner of Saints Hills Winery, Croatia. “A few years ago, it was unthinkable that Croatian wines would get more than 91 or 92 points, because there was limited understanding of our indigenous varieties. With persistent work on marketing, promotions and tastings specifically of Plavac Mali which deserves global attention, our wines St. Roko and Dingač St. Lucia started to get 93, 94 and 95 points, which was a sign that things are changing. Now, with 97 pts for the 2016 Ernest Tolj Plavac Mali Dingač, the bar has been raised high. The sky is the limit, and that motivates us even further.”

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Description automatically generatedThe five wineries rated with 90+ points by Wine Enthusiast in the August/September Buying Guide issue are:

  • Saints Hills:  various appellations
    • Dingač:  97 to 2016 Ernest Tolj Plavac Mali Dingač; 95 to 2017 St. Lucia Plavac Mali; 93 to 2017 Black Plavac Mali 
    • Istria: 94 to 2020 Le Chiffre Chardonnay; 93 to 2021 Mala Nevina (Malvasia and Chardonnay)
  • Volarević Winery, Komarna Appellation:  95 to 2018 Platinum Plavac Mali; 94 to 2016 Gold Edition Plavac Mali; 91 for 2015 Plavac Mali 
  • Terra Madre Winery, Komarna Appellation: 91 to 2016 Plavac Mali Premium; 91 to 2016 Komarna 7 Plavac Mali; 90 to 2016 Plavac Mali Barrique 
  • Fakin Wines, Istria:  90 for La Prima Malvasia Istriana 2018 

Plavac Mali variety is grown in the southern-most wine region of Croatia – Dalmatia. Its name means ‘little blue’, referring to its appearance, small and dark blue berries. As a late-harvest variety growing under harsh conditions, it involves a complicated winemaking process which is why the winemakers have a saying that they need to “tame” it.  

“We have conducted three years of scientific research about the influence of harvest date and length of maceration on polyphenolic and sensory characteristics of Plavac Mali, and our 2018 Platinum Plavac Mali is the first commercial vintage produced based on the research,” said Josip Volarević, M. Sc. Agriculture, owner and winemaker of Volarević Winery.  “I am proud to have received 95 points for a young vintage of Plavac Mali, which spent only eight months in oak barrels. The rest of the aging will happen in a bottle, so I can only look forward to seeing what the future brings. We have already used the early findings of this methodology when producing the previous vintage of Gold Edition, and that is consistent with receiving 94 points for this wine, also from the Komarna appellation.”  

A person standing next to barrels of wine

Description automatically generated with low confidence
Photo from Croatian Premium Wine: Josip Volarevic, M. Sc.. Agriculture, Volarevic Winery with research samples of Plavac Mali. 

About Plavac Mali - Indigenous Croatian Red Variety

The UC Davis and University of Zagreb conducted a DNA study of the variety only to discover that Plavac Mali (vitis vinifera) is a descendant of Zinfandel (aka Tribidrag or Crljenak Kaštelanski) created by a natural hybrid with another indigenous variety, Dobričić.  Plavac Mali produces several styles of wines, from medium-bodied and easy-drinking, to elegant and robust wines. The aromas in Plavac Mali are predominantly dark berries and Mediterranean herbs with expressive tannins, and mineral on the palate. 

The annual production of Plavac Mali is over five million bottles annually, which is 7.5% of the total Croatian wine production, according to the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, and due to its distinct taste and a capacity to age well is the most likely red wine purchased and exported by both the wine industry and consumers. 

About Wine Enthusiast Companies

Wine Enthusiast magazine is an award-winning print publication and online resource that showcases wine and food trends, enotravel, and provides over 25,000 ratings and reviews annually. The content ranges from the beverage industry news which evolves quickly and constantly, to expert analyses and feature reporting.  Details on all ratings are searchable here  Wine Enthusiast Companies is composed of Wine Enthusiast Media and Wine Enthusiast Commerce and is building the Wine Enthusiast Showroom, Education and Tasting Center (or Wine Enthusiast SET Center) at the corporate office in New York, reinforces the company’s value of continued learning and serves as a hub for the company’s long-standing practice of blind tasting wines for all ratings. 

About the Croatian Wine Alliance – a Public-Private Collaboration

Lead by Croatian Premium Wine Imports, Inc., an online store shipping 70+ indigenous Croatian wines in the US, the Alliance raises awareness of premium Croatian wines and supports the work of Wines of Croatia within the Croatian Chamber of Commerce; The Croatian National Tourist Board. Participants are Croatian wine importers and distributors in the US, Canada, Australia, and Europe, as well as Croatian wineries.  

To read more about sports in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Sasa Bernobic Employs German Production Skills at Istrian Winery

June the 8th, 2021 - Sasa Bernobic of the Istrian OH Wines winery does things a bit differently than one might expect, and he has put the ever-famed German production skills he was educated in into proper practice.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marta Duic writes, although the wine world is often associated with terms such as family business and tradition, OH Wines winery has a completely different story, from the approach, the method of production, to the label and the name itself.

This is a winery in the municipality of Vizinada, in an ideal position between Mediterranean and continental Istria, and Sasa Bernobic produces wines according to the rules of the "German school".

“OH Wines was created back in 2015 on the modern idea of ​​a market accompanied by a different way of producing wine and olive oil, but also a different way of producting the very design itself. I wanted to stand out from a large group of markets by gathering practical and professional experiences from other parts of Europe and from across the rest of the world. So, I adapted my wine production to the German production model, my olive oil to that used by the Italians and the Spaniards, and the design to my own model where I simply reversed the mental circuit in people and did something unusual in design for the world of wine,'' Ssas Bernobic explained.

Bernobic claims that the "German school" of white wine production is the strongest in the world and has no competition, and is based on the accuracy of the data and extremely high "purity" in numbers when we talk about microbiology.

Clean numbers

"It was this precision and accuracy that led me to create a new style of wine that is different from the competition, and with that same new style of wine I stimulated the imaginations of some of the greatest wine lovers. Germany has extremely difficult conditions for wine production, and yet they manage to keep up with the world's largest wines easily.

They succeeded because by choosing the exact date of harvest and treatments in the cellars, they managed to create the perfect wine in a very harsh climate. As far as olive oil is concerned, we're still learning here, we're in constant contact with Italian and Spanish scientists who have introduced me to new methods and styles in production,'' revealed Sasa Bernobic.

Back during the 2020 harvest, they launched the first Croatian branded olive oil produced with a different technique. It's a process which involves technological processing and is called denocciolato, in which the olive is pitted to achieve a higher nutritional value and a fuller taste of the oil. Production is much more expensive, and the amount of the final product is much smaller. The whole process was done in Italy..

“When you’re first getting into some things, it gives you a huge market advantage and the market loves you. That was exactly my goal - to create something new and different. What made me especially happy was that this oil was sold out in advance, mostly going off to the kitchens of private customers, and partly to Michelin restaurants in Austria and Germany,'' stated Sasa Bernobic.

They currently have five hectares of vineyards and 1.5 hectares of olive groves, and offer five wine labels and a limited series of sparkling wine produced by 200 bottles a year of Teran. The winery also has a tasting room, and although about 80 percent of their sales are based on the German and Austrian markets, they're slowly moving towards a goal in which both local Croatian sales and foreign exports are half and half.

An imaginatively created name...

The OH Wines brand name is based on three segments - it boasts the name of the Ohnici microlocality where vineyards and olive groves are located, OH is a carboxyl group of ethanol in the logo of each wine that signifies a modern approach, and the third part refers to the reaction they want to provoke - that OH experience when one tries the taste of something of high quality.

"Our customers are mostly tourists who spend their summers in Istria, and lately we're also becoming more and more interesting to local wine lovers, mostly people from Zagreb. We work with a very small number of restaurants, but hopefully there will be more interest from them in the future. This year we applied for a wine envelope with which we want to completely modernise the cellar and speed up the process of harvesting and processing grapes, and the conversion of vineyards and the renewal of agricultural machinery is also in the works,'' concluded Sasa Bernobic.

For more, follow Made in Croatia.

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Dubrovnik-Neretva County Wineries Moving Into the Spotlight

April 11, 2021 -  Famous for its stunning landscapes, incredible history, and delicious gastronomy, Dubrovnik-Neretva County wineries are also moving into the spotlight. 

The county consists of the only river delta in Croatia, with fertile colorful grounds, delicious gastronomy, and some of the largest vineyards in the whole of Croatia. Some of the most famous wines in the country come from Dalmatia and more specifically Dubrovnik-Neretva County such as Plavac Mali and Pošip. With over 130 autochthonous varieties of wine in Croatia, it's clear why people from all over the world enjoy the local wine.

One of the most famous visitors to the Dubrovnik-Neretva wine region is Boris Johnson, prior to his promotion. He came to Croatia for a quiet getaway with his family and said "nothing can compare to the beauty of Croatia". The family stayed in a hidden villa in Stolovi, which among other things is famous for its wine production! Upon his return, the Prime Minister wrote about his positive impression of Croatia in a column for the Telegraph. Johnson wasn't shy to admit that the red Dingac, known as Croatia's best red wines, was his favorite.  

The first and famous Neretva vineyards which visitors can enjoy the view from the Magistrala road from Opuzen to Dubrovnik were planted in the 18th century. Some of the most popular wineries in Dubrovnik-Neretva County are located on the Pelješac peninsula, as well as in Stolovi, Komarna, and Opuzen. The Meditteranean climate makes the perfect surrounding for quality vine cultivation. On average, the county gets around 2700 hours of sunshine, so you get to enjoy a glass of wine or more with breathtaking views and sunshine! 


The family-owned winery dates back to the 20th century when the first vineyards were planted by the great-grandfather of today's generation of the Štimac family. Over the years, the family has established 22 hectares of vineyards in Komarna, known as the youngest winegrowing area in Croatia. The winery build meets the highest technological standards for the production of wine and 90% of vines belong to the indigenous varieties of Plavac mali and Pošip, together with the somewhat forgotten variety of Tribidrag. 


Rizman Winery | Rizman Winery Facebook

In case you aren't able to visit the winery, the Rizman rest stop is located just on the side of the Magistrala road on the way to Dubrovnik. But in case you do get to visit, you will not only be able to enjoy some of the best wines Croatia has to offer, but you'll also get to experience breathtaking views of Dubrovnik-Neretva County,

Terra Madre  

One of the youngest wineries in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, with the first vines planted only 13 years ago, in 2008. Since then the winery has gained the prestigious certification for their ideal conditions in an ecological way since the opening in 2013. Terra Madre wines have won a total of 16 prestigious awards, and the one that stands out, in particular, is the Dubrovnik Festiwine Gold Medal. "This award was especially dear to our hearts because it is practically the first competition in our county." 


Terra Madre Winery | Terra Madre Winery Facebook

In 2019, Terra Madre won the Decanter silver medal for their Plavac Mali premium vintage 2016 production. The award came from a prestigious wine competition in London, UK. The winery itself is located in a stunning location with a view of the Adriatic sea. Nothing else matters when you're sipping on an award-winning glass of wine while looking out at the horizon. 

Vina Deak 

With its unique location in Opuzen, the family-owned winery only got started in the wine business about 10 years ago. Their vision is to combine the tourist offer with the autochthonous products of the Dubrovnik-Neretva region. With their location, Vina Deak offers a lot more than just wine tasting, they offer a whole experience. In 2020, Vina Deak received two awards for their prestigious wines, a silver and a bronze medal in the Decanter World Wine Awards! 


Vina Deak | Vina Deak Facebook

If you aren't able to visit the winery, make sure to stop at the Deak Wines Rest Stop on the way to Dubrovnik! Visitors have the ability to book daily excursions to explore the Neretva Valley and nearby towns, homemade olive oil tasting, photo safari down the river delta, picnics, and lots more. Their luxurious villa in Stolovi looking over the horizon is Boris Johnson's secret vacation hideaway! 

Vinarija Edivo

Have you ever experienced an underwater winery? Located in Drače, a small village nearby Ston, Vinarija Edivo wanted to create a unique experience for wine lovers. They came up with the idea of immersing bottles and amphorae under the Adriatic Sea, around the Pelješac peninsula. Today, their creation is called The Sea Mystery, the first underwater winery. 


Grgo Jelavic/PIXSELL

Besides tasting the unique product of love, effort, and time, licensed scuba divers can also take a tour of the underwater winery to get the full and possibly once-in-a-lifetime experience! "Everything is pure Croatian product, one that you will want to take it with you: product with a story that belongs to our land, that people will definitely talk about." 

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.


Saturday, 28 November 2020

Croatian Wines Win 86 Medals at International Wine Challenge 2020

November 28, 2020 - Another great recognition for Croatian winemakers, as Croatian wines win 86 medals at International Wine Challenge 2020. 

Jutarnji List reports that at the prestigious wine competition International Wine Challenge 2020, Croatian wines excelled once again, winning 86 medals. This competition is held in two parts, and on Thursday, the awards of the second part of the competition were announced, in which Croatian wines won 1 gold, 28 silver, 39 bronze medals, and as many as 18 recommendations.

The Istrian winery Monte Rosso has the most reason to celebrate in the autumn edition of one of the strictest and most rigorous international wine competitions in terms of judging, winning the only gold and the corresponding 95 points for 2019 Malvasia. In the previous edition of this year's competition, the gold was won by Iločki podrumi with their 2018 Graševina vrh. Thus, the highest medals at IWC 2020 went to the two most represented domestic varieties.

The Krajančić winery, Luka Krajančić, achieved exceptional success with 5 silver medals. Most of them, or 93 points, were won by Pošip Intrada ’19 wine. Ninety-two points went to Pošip macerirano ’16 and Pošip Statut ’16, and 90 points each for Opera ’19 and Moro ’19 wines. Kozlović winery won three silver medals, 90 points for Malvasia '18, 91 points for Malvasia Selection '17 and 92 points for Malvasia Santa Lucia '16, while Rossi winery won 90 points each for the Malvasia '19 and Malvasia Templar wines and 91 points for the Chardonnay Riserva ’17. Among the most significant successes are two silver medals for Agrolaguna wineries, Fakin and Testament, and several wines in the silver medals class with the highest scores of 93 points, namely Andrea Cosetto Prima Luce '19, Testament Pošip '19 and Benvenuti San Salvatore Muscat '15, reports Jutarnji list.

At this autumn edition of the International Wine Awards, the winners from 14 countries were selected and declared the best wines, proving to be the absolute top in their categories after intense blind tasting. Six of these excellent wines have been named champions by the co-chairs of the International Wine Challenge, a group of the world’s six best wine tasters.

Chardonnay from Tasmania, the Tolpuddle Vineyard Chardonnay 2018, won over wines from more than 50 countries that were awarded the Champion White Trophy at this year’s competition. Australia was one of the countries with the best performance, with four wines ranked in the top 30.

For the first time in the history of the International Wine Challenge, Georgian producer Tbilvino was awarded Champion 2020 for its wine produced from the indigenous Saperavi grape variety. Portugal was the best this year with four wines on the list including Justino’s overall winner Madeira Terrantez 1978, which was awarded the highest Champion of Champions award.

See the complete list of awarded wines HERE.

Recall that at this year's 17th edition of the Decanter World Wine Awards, a total of 226 Croatian wines received one of the Decanter labels. Of these, Croatia has three platinum medals, 11 gold, 68 silver and 88 bronze medals and 56 Decanter recommendations.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.