Vina Croatia

The Annual Tasting of Croatian Wines

Croatia has been a wine producing area since classical times, and is the source of several grapes now common in Italy. In common with other ex-communist countries, the wine industry has had to be restructured, with considerable rebuilding and replanting being needed.

Inland Croatia is largely a source of white wines, with some recent plantings of international red varieties. I attended a tasting of wines from Slavonia, the Uplands and the Danube region presented by Anthony Rose. This is the area that was the source for Yugoslav or Lutomer Riesling in the 1970s and 80s. The grapes (usually called Riesling Italico) are still grown, but now put on the labels as Grasvina, the local name. The quality can now be much better than I remember, the wines being made in dry and sweet styles, and as ice wine, as in Austria. The dry 2011 from Galic has a dry palate with honey overtones and an elegant finish: The Kutjevo dd 2009 Icewine is pale with a flowery, honeyed nose, sweet peachy palate and some length, but needs drinking young due to the variety’s notorious lack of acidity. We also tasted an interesting 2009 Pinot Noir from Korak, with a soft, oaky palate and elegant finish, and a 2009 Miraz Syrah in a restrained, balanced style.

Istria , on the coast produces a range of white wines, often from the local Malvasia Istriana, which seems to produce its best results when blended with international varieties and made into sparkling wine. Further south along the coast is Dalmatia, home to the red Plavac Mali grape. The best example that I tried was a 2008 from Gracin, with very ripe fruit and some oak.

At the moment, Croatian wines are quite rare in the UK market, since local demand is bigger than supply. The wines that are exported tend to be rather expensive for their quality level, and very hard to source. Given the rate of planting and development, we would hope for more and better value wines coming out of this part of the world in the next decade.


The Dirty Dozen

Twelve independent importers showed their wares on 12 September 2012

This was a very popular event, and some of the stalls were difficult to get to: there wasn’t much chance to talk to the importers or winemakers present. Each importer showed 24 wines, so only a surface skim was possible. The wines were also newly arrived, and probably not showing at their best.

WineBarn had some interesting German Pinot Noirs, with the 2009 showing better than the 2010. a Becker wine from the Pfalz showed quite well at the medium price range. Another Pinot Noir which had good weight and complexity was the 2011 Hofstatter (Alto Adige) from FortyFive10 o. They also had a very interesting Refosco 2006 from Valle ( Friuli). Going back to Pinot Noir, Vine Trail have a 2009 Chambolle-Musigny from Amiot-Servelle with a lot of promise. To compare with this, I had two New World Pinot Noirs on the H2Vin stall. The 2009 Wedgetail Estate from the Yarra Valley showed its hot country origin, while the 2009 Lime Rock from Waipara was in a firmer, cool climate style. The Wine Treasury provided some Oregon Pinots, the best of which was the expensive Beaux Freres 2009 – ripe raspberry fruit just fighting its way through a new oak and acid structure. From the same source, the 2010 Noemia Malbec from Patagonia also shows promise for the next decade.

At a rather lower price point, the 2010 Sao del Coster Priorat from Indigo Wine showed ripe fruits, in a rather rustic style common to their other regional Spanish wines, The Roberson Wine table gave us another batch of Pinot Noirs to taste. Their Burgundy, a 2002 Gevrey-Chambertin from Pascal Lachaux, was good value for a mature wine. The 2010 Bergstrom from Oregon had elegance while the 2010 Jamie Kutch from California was pale but strongly flavoured. Their star was the 2003 Pesquera Janus (Ribero del Duero) – power, complexity and an eye-watering price for those of us who bought Alejandro Fernandez wines in the 1980s.

Most of these wines are destined for high-end retailers and restaurants, and with a few exceptions need considerably more bottle age.
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