Sunday, 18 August 2019

WOW Association Members Visit Winemakers on Krk Island

On August 3rd, in the middle of the summer, a meeting of the members of the WOW Association and the winemakers of the island of Krk, or more precisely, Vrbnik was held.

The get-together point was in Dunat, in the beautiful beach bar Casa del Padrone, where around twenty members of the association (some accompanied by their husbands, who decided to join) and some journalists were welcomed by Sanja Muzaferija, the association president and their hostess for the day. Sanja knows Krk very well, as she has spent her summers in Punat for many years.

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The young owner of the beach bar, ambitious Adrian Štimac told the story of the bar to the visitors, explaining how the concept of the place is for the guests to spend the entire day at the bar – which means at the beach! It's decorated completely in the marine style, with details such as oars, barrels with anchor signs and completely white and turquoise blue. The bar's hostesses welcomes all guests, rents out the beach chair to them (100 kuna a day) and they just need to enjoy the view of the Punat marina, islet Košljun or the ski-lift wakeboard nearby, take a swim, get free water, a towel, a piece of watermelon... The entire idea is to offer their guests to take a hedonistic approach to their day, because a kind Thai lady is waiting to give you a Thai massage, if that's what you'd like, you can have a beach-appropriate lovely meal, have a fresh-made juice, cocktail, sparkling or still wine.

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After that experience, the small group went on towards Vrbnik in good spirits. The first stop was at the terrace of the Ivan Katunar House of Wine where the WOW member Egle Katunar awaited for their arrival. They were offered seven wine labels, their own olive oil from Vodnjan, where Egle was born, and the amazing story of the winery, cellar and the 40 year tradition of winemaking in the Katunar family. The tradition is made by two Ivans, father and son, and the brand is named after them. The first harvest to be bottled was in 1989, and the first forays into commercialisation was also made then by her father in law, Ivan Katunar senior, who Egle called a visionary in several occasions. Both father and son welcomed the members of the group, and nobody should be worried about keeping the tradition, as Egle was feeding her baby, her second child, between the tastings. The vineyards of the Ivan Katunar House of Wine are located in the Vrbnik field, at the Krasina locality, which is extremely good for the grapes, and produces high-quality yield. The group got to see the cellar and the winery in the house of the Katunar family, built in 1963, renovated in 1987, and the new cellar with the modern technology was dug in 2007. Another series of changes happened in 2017, when the new, modern visual identity was created, as well as the new retail space in the house. The large terrace with the view of Vrbnik is almost finished, as is the grand tasting hall. One thing they highlight here is that the entire process of winemaking, from the vineyard to the table, is controlled by the Ivan Katunar House of Wine.

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For this occasion, they presented Biser Žlahtine 2017 as a welcome drink, a sparkling wine made by 100% Žlahtina, an indigenous Krk white wine, made using the charmat method. After that some Ivan Katunar Žlahtina 2018 was offered, then a surprisingly refreshing and light Chardonnay 2017 (this is the only winemaker making Chardonnay on Krk), Rosé 2018 which women of the WOW association instantly loved, Sansigot 2016, a red wine made by the indigenous variety of this region, Yellow Moscatto 2018 and prošek Sv. Ivan 2010. There was olive oil, olives, wonderful cheese and some prosciutto to help with the wines.

After the group has purchased all the wines they planned, Egle Katunar took them on a walk around Vrbnik, to show them some of the important sights and monuments of this wonderful small town. They climbed up to the bella vista, more precisely – the terrace of the legendary Nada restaurant. There Ivan Juranić welcomed them with some sparkling wine and a million dollar view of the Velebit channel and Crikvenica Riviera on the mainland from the terrace above the cliff over the local port.

The restaurant was opened in 1974, as a small and friendly local eatery, and in its 45 years it managed to become a successful restaurant, known for their food far from Krk. In their beginning, Nada was dedicated to making traditional meals from Vrbnik, mostly cooked by grandma Nada herself. She also came to welcome the group in person, and told them how proud and happy she was that her daughter and son in law first, and then her grandson kept the idea of the restaurant for this long. Today, Nada restaurant lovingly offers modern Mediterranean cuisine, with emphasis on seafood dishes, and are well known even outside of Croatia, as foreign customers often visit and take home good impressions.


WOW group got to enjoy first a roast-beef sandwich, then some tuna carpaccio, traditional pasta from Krk called šurlice with shrimp, seabream and an amazing lava cake with some ice-cream. Today the Nada winery was also renovated and ready to accept organized groups of tourists, after being used only for the production of wine and wine-based products. The decoration is rustic; the combination of the stone and wooden beams was kept, while the rest of the restaurant has a more modern feel. Happily in the synergy with the terrace that serves as a summer jazz stage, Nada is a place that shouldn't be missed when in Vrbnik. Of course, many guests feel that way, so we recommend you make a reservation to make sure there's a table waiting for you.

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And you might be wondering what wines the group tasted at Nada: their Soubze Brut sparkling wine, Nada Žlahtina, Sw. Nadalia rosé and Zaberde, a blend of the red varieties from Vrbnik. In addition to those wines, made by Nada winery, Ivica Dobrinčić from Šipun winery also got to present a few of his wines to the group. Šipun Žlahtina from 2018 and Sansigot 2016 were tasted, but a very special rosé made from another indigenous variety, Troišćina was not tasted! The winemaker was able to make such a spectacular wine that the first vintage was sold out completely, receiving raving reviews by the buyers and experts alike, but that meant that the WOW Association group was not able to taste any of it! Maybe next time...

Monday, 10 June 2019

WOW Awards Ceremony and 8th Birthday of Women on Wine Held in Zagreb

June 10, 2019 - Association WOW/Women on Wine, popular as „WOW-ice “, is a very active (and pretty large) group of around 200 women throughout Croatia that are involved in promoting wine. Some are wine professionals – sommeliers, oenologists or wine bar owners and others are just wine lovers or wine and lifestyle journalists just like their president and founder, journalist and editor Sanja Muzaferija. Their mission is to constantly encourage young wine producers, especially women, but also give credit and regularly award all wine producers who please their demanding and educated palates.

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For eight consecutive years, they give out awards for the Croatian WOW wine of the year in five categories: sparkling, white, rosé, red and dessert wine. The whole process of choosing the best wines is somewhat humorously titled What Women Want and lasts for about two months. Designed by Muzaferija, the selection is everything but lightly taken. It consists of three different steps, the first one being a sort of nomination/pre-selection list. The author of the list is a different renowned Croatian sommelier every year and the duty was previously performed by esteemed sommeliers such as Karin Rupene-Perdec, Alena Stuparić, Siniša Lasan, Mario Meštrović, Roko Bekavac, Jelena Šimić Valentić, and Željko Bročilović Carlos- This time, sommelier Filip Savić was appointed for the job.

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The initial selection list always holds 5 sparkling wines, ten whites, five rosés, ten reds, and five dessert/sweet wines. The whole story begins from the initial selection list and after all the members of WOW have had one month to vote by mail, they come up with 12 finalists. The third and final phase of the contest is a blind tasting by three women knowledgeable in wine matters. They are the ones who choose the WOW wine in every category and the one that is being awarded the WOW Grand Prix Wine of the year title – regardless of the colour, price or style of the wine.  All five winning wines get a nice sculpture designed by famous designer collective GRUPA, but the main prize of this very well accepted and after 8 years, very well respected choice, is an attractive trip to one of the famous world wine regions, provided and powered by WOW.

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So far, the winners travelled all over Europe: Gianfranco Kozlović to Bordeaux, Saša Senjković to Champagne, Moreno Coronica to Barcelona and Penedes, Luka Krajančić to Burgundy, Frano Milina Bire to Austria and the representative of Meneghetti winery took a trip to Tuscany. Last year’s winner, Alen Bibić, declined the trip due to previous engagements. The awards ceremony for the 8th WOW Grand Prix took place, traditionally, in the restaurant Balon in Zagreb.  The final jury consisting, naturally, entirely of women, has gathered previously at Jadranka bistro and has spoken their final word. They were: well-known and esteemed sommelier Karin Rupena Perdec as the president of the jury; Ines Matić, sommelier and Doris Srpek of the famous wine shop and wine bar Bornstein.

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The wines that made it to the finals are: Sparkling –  Blanc de Noir, Peršurić and Pavel, Šember, and the winner is - Blanc de Noir, Peršurić.  

White wines: Meneghetti White 2017, Meneghetti; Grimalda white 2015, Matošević and Škrlet 2017, Voštinić- Klasnić - and the winner is the Meneghetti White 2015. In rose wines, the finalists are the Rosella Poletti 2017, Poletti and Rose Galić 2017, Galić. The winner is Rosella Poletti 2017. Red wines: Fuga 2015, Dobravac winery; Santa Lucija red 2015; Kozlović winery and Il Primo 2015, Fakin winery. The winner is Il Primo, Fakin winery. Dessert wines in the finals: Muškat Momjanski, Prelac winery and Graševina izborna berba prosušenih bobica 2015, Krauthaker winery. And the winner is Graševina izborna berba prosušenih bobica 2015, Krauthaker. The overall winner and the WOW Grand Prix new owner is Marko Fakin of Motovun with his Il Primo red wine that instantly gained the star status, not only among women voters.  The winner will visit the Hungarian wine region Villany in July. After the awards ceremony – the wine crowd stayed on to celebrate the 8th birthday of the WOW association together with the wine producers who proudly held their WOW „stars“/awards and the media.

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Photos of the jury: Silvija Munda

Photos of the ceremony: Rene Karaman

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