Post image for Staying alive at Zagreb Wine Gourmet 2011 – 1st part

Staying alive at Zagreb Wine Gourmet 2011 – 1st part

by Gogo on March 3, 2011

in All wines

Probably you’ve already heard it. This year the festival was a real mess. Lack of space, too crowded and too noisy to allow you to concentrate on any decent tasting, no place to sit, to relax and make business or just to exchange impressions with your friends, no place where you could grab something to eat… (hello??! is this a gourmet festival or what?). As an illustration of the hectic atmosphere, the picture below was taken when there was no too much people.
Zagreb Wine Gourmet 2011

But, I won’t bore you with this lamentations. Vinitaly in Verona is even worse 🙂 It’s much more fun to write about the wines I managed to taste. And the selection of wines, it would be unfair to the organizers not to admit it, was really impressive.

I started with sparkling wines. The first was Porin from Katunar made by Charmat method and based on Pinot blanc – good as simple summer refreshment and for aperitif, nicely fresh and mineral, but it’s not a wine you will remember. It can support maybe the simplest appetitizers.

Sparkling wines from Peršurić winery from made by classical method were a class higher. The white ones, Misal Millenium, Prestige and Blanc de Blanc, are solid wines with great minerality but they still need to find their identity (and it would be nice to see more acids in them). But Misal Noir, based on Istrian Borgonja with addition of Teran and Hrvatica (all these are indigenous Istrian varieties) is wine that rocks! It tells its own story, it doesn’t want to be a younger cousin of champagne but yells in your face: “I’m different because I’m Istrian”. Nice red fruits (wild blackberries) in the nose and under the tongue, a pinch of graphite, mineral explosion, more body, less finesse. Excellent with Istrian pork charcuterie – pršut, kobasice, ombolo…
Peršurić sparkling wines

I was pleasantly surprised by a novelty from Kutjevo WineryMaximo, a classical method sparkling wine based on graševina (welschriesling). It is not so complex as Peršurić, probably because it remains on yeast only nine months, but it is more fruity and straightforward. It may support fish based antipasti (cold ones) and steamed mussels without any problem. It’s price is very tempting – only 50 kn (7 euros). Thumbs up!

Now, the white wines. I had a nice talk with Tomaž Ščurek, one of five sons of Stojan Ščurek – famous winemaker from Goriška Brda in Slovenia. He explained in most of their wines they do not do maceration during the fermentation (like their famous neighbour Radikon, for example) but neither they use some commercially available selected yeast in their vinification. Instead, with collaboration with some enologic institute in Ljubljana, they developed their own yeast powder that originates from the yeast that are naturally present on grape skins in their vineyards. In that way, they manage to preserve “the taste” of one of the greatest terroir for white wines in the world. I enjoyed their light and fresh 2007 Rumena Rebula (Ribolla Gialla), my favorite white grape variety from Goriška Brda/Collio. But I was enchanted by their 2008 Ščurek “Stara Brajda Bela”, a blend from Rebula, Pikolit, Malvasia, Pika, Glera (Prosecco is made from Glera) and Tržarka, all indigenous varieties to Brda (Collio). The nose is complex, more herbal than fruity, hard to identify single component, I could sniff it for hours and not be bored. The taste is strong and velvety but no sign of wood (it was aged in big oak barrels), tastes like some apple and pear pie with custard sauce while at the same time acids and minerals makes a lot of fun in your mouth. Have to visit Ščurek’s vineyards as soon as possible to know this terroir better. After all, it is only one hour drive from Trieste where I live.
Ščurek wines

On the table of Carić winery from Hvar island I tasted 2010 Carić “Bogdanjuša” made from 100% Bogdanjuša, indigenous variety from otok Hvar. It was perfect to desaturate my tongue from strong flavors of Stara Brajda. Light in alcohol, very fresh and fruity (green apple), easy drinking in the style of Vinho Verde but with Mediterranean touch, a perfect thirst quenching wine for hot summer days on Adriatic. It would be even better if they make it slightly frizzante, this would be fun. Very cheap, only 33 kn. I heard they also have nice Plavac, but I didn’t taste it.
20010 Carić "Bogdanjuša" bogdanjuša

Although I am from Istria, the land of Istrian Malvasia, I must say that my taste buds were more excited when, here at Wine Gourmet, I tried for the first time a wine made from Dubrovačka Malvasia: 2009 Crvik “Marin Držić” – 100% Malvasia Dubrovačka. Mature yellow fruits, green grass, peppermint in the nose, very fresh, warm and with nice oily texture under the tongue, closes elegantly due to tasty salts, no bitterness at all (often encountered in Istrian Malvasia).
2009 Crvik "Marin Držić" malvasia dubrovačka
2009 Crvik "Marin Držić" malvasia dubrovačka
Crvik winery is family owned and settled in Konavle plateau, few kilometers south of Dubrovnik. This old grape variety unites Mediterranean, it is not indigenous only to Konavle but also to Aeolian Islands (Malvasia di Lipari) and Sitges in Catalonia (Malvasia de Sitges). I tried to convince Petar Crvik, an enthusiastic and young winemaker, to make also sweet kind of Malvasia made from dried grapes (vino passito). It would be perfect with rožata, a custard pie similar to créme caramel flan that is typical of Dubrovnik region.

Below, Malvasia de Sitges with crema catalana (creme brulée).
Malvasia de Sitges and crema catalana

If you are in Croatia, and attending some wine event, it is impossible not to meet Bruno Trapan and taste his wines 🙂 News? 2009 “Ponente” Istrian Malvasia is good as always. Bruno did excellent job with 2009 Trapan “Uroboros” – Istrian Malvasia & Chardonnay! Before Uroboros was done with pure Malvasia but a touch of Chardonnay (about 25% if I remeber well), and maybe the fact that his barrels are not so new as before, created an elegant wine with distinctive style. Thumbs up for his 2010 Trapan “Ruby Rosé”. Slightly longer maceration than in 2009 added more extract and tannins, and a real rosé is born.
tasting Ponente with Trapan

Feudo Antico winery from Abbruzzo in Italy is making wines under very young geographical designation and the smallest one in Italy – Tullum DOC (the guy is laughing when we told him that tulum in Zagreb means party). Great white wines from Pecorino and Passerina (indigenous varieties of Le Marche and Abbruzzo found in this DOC) that reminded me to Verdicchio di Matelica or Slavonian Graševina. In the last ten years or so some great wines were produced from Montepulciano d’Abbruzzo grapes not only from historical high-end winemakers (Emidio Pepe), for example Montepulciano “Marina Cvetić” from Masciarelli. The latter wine is an example of high-extract fruit bomb. Montepulcianos I tried here, 2008 Feudo antico “Rosso Tullum” and especially 2008 Feudo antico “Rosso Riserva Tullum”, were less fruity, more elegant and mysterious, and certainly much more food friendly.
Feudo Antico - Montepulciano d'Abbruzzo

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

dalmacija moja inspiracija March 5, 2011 at 11:55

znači nekih novosti nije bilo…uglavnom ponavjanje iz prošle godine…

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buonsangue March 5, 2011 at 19:24

“Great white wines from Pecorino and Passerina (indigenous varieties of this DOC) “___ Hard to tell whether you actually mean “varieties indigenous to this DOC” or “indigenous varieties found in this DOC”. The former is, of course, untrue: both varieties are in fact quite widespread outside this DOC, and, conversely, this DOC is not even a particularly important source for wines made from these two indigenous varieties. ___ “very similar to Verdicchio or Slavonian Graševina” ___ Interesting analogy. Must say, though, I don’t see that at all. ___ “In the last ten years or so some great wines were produced from Montepulciano d’Abbruzzo grapes, for example Montepulciano “Marina Cvetić” from Masciarelli. ” ___ Again, with all due respect, I am not sure what exactly you are saying there. If I read your statement exactly for what its wording and grammar imply, surely the least one can say is you seem to be stating the obvious. Nonetheless, the flexible time frame that you specify (“ten or so years”) sounds to me like you are actually trying to say that some great wines were eventually produced from the MdA over the last ten or so years. In which case I might conclude that historic producers like Pietrantonj, Valentini or Pepe are perhaps not exactly household names for you. Much the same goes for deciding on “Marina Cvetic” as your one illustration of a “great MdA”… ____ “The latter wine is an example of high-extract fruit bomb in the style of Super Tuscans.” __ Now, there’s a gross simplification, if ever I’ve seen one. Do you honestly believe that there is such a thing as a single “style of Super-Tuscans” and, if so, that it can be accurately summed up as “high-extract fruit bombs”?

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Gogo March 7, 2011 at 12:07

You are right, Pecorino and Passerina are indigenous not only to this DOC, but also to Le Marche and whole Abbruzzo. I missinterpreted what I heard from the guy from Feudo Antico. I will correct this in the text!
Regarding the analogy with Verdicchio, maybe I should specify Verdicchio di Matelica that is more “continental” style of wine than Verdicchio di Castelli dei Castelli di Jesi that to me is typical nonaromatic “coastal” wine. When I was in Matelica I visited two wineries (Bisci and La Monacesca) and the taste reminded me of some good graševina. But is purely my impression, I am not a great expert in wines and don’t have a big “sensorial bagage” to be able to objectively compare two wines from different regions.

My lack of expertise in Abbruzzo is responsible that I wrote “The last ten years or so”. Before ten years or so, common Italian consumer that buys wine for everyday lunch-dinner considered MdA as cheap red wine found in supermarket that is barely drinkable. Now, even not high-end wineries from Abbruzzo produce decent MdA. Wines of famous winemaker Emidio Pepe I first tried two years ago and you are right, they are on much higher level compared to “Marina Cvetić”. There is another old winery that produces great MdA since 80ties that I tried at VinoVinoVino 2009, Terre a Mano I think, but I have to check.

Regarding the Super Tuscans, I had misfortune to try only few bottles and they were all high-extract fruit bombs. Again my lack of expertise since the price range of these bottles are far above the capacity of my wallet. Will remove Super Tuscans 🙂

Thanks for valuable comments, I can learn a lot from you it seems 🙂

Reply

buonsangue March 10, 2011 at 23:42

Matelica and CdJesi are very different wines, you’re definitely right about that.
As for CdJesi, I see why someone would be tempted to tar them all with the same brush: there is just a lot of uninspired/uninspiring wine being made in the area. However, the same thing could be said about a lot of other DOCs, DOCGs and viticultural areas in general. What I normally do when I’m trying to be fair is to focus on the standouts as a benchmark of what an area, or a particular grape variety in that area, can potentially achieve. So, when I hear Verdicchio CdJesi, I think Ampelio Bucci. And that, of course, transcends your generalisation about “typical nonaromatic “coastal” wine”.
Coming back to Matelica, as you rightly suggest, although it’s no more than cca 30-40 km inland from the Adriatic coast, the difference in altitude and an appreciably cooler climate (the night/day “escursioni termiche”) make for a very different beast. Bisci and La Monacesca are both very good (personally I find the Merum bottling ever so slightly on the heavy side for my own idea of Matelica, but that’s a minor gripe, and it’s still a very good wine). Nevertheless, if you go again, go see Fabio Marchionni at Collestefano: impeccable, taut wines, graceful and stern at the same time. Not only the best in Matelica, but among Italy’s very best whites (coming from me, that is high praise, indeed: I am a demanding bastard). You might also want to check out Belisario: their Cambrugiano is, if you ask me, one of no more than a grand total of two successful wood-aged Verdicchios in all of Marche (the other being Bucci’s legendary Riserva), and the Meridia bottling is one of those wines that I think a lot of wannabe-trendy winemakers in Croatia could do a lot worse than to study closely :-).
What you say about MdA’s (former) reputation as a cheap industrial quaffer lining supermarket shelves might, as a blanket statement, just as well apply to Chianti and, again, a dozen of other well-known areas like Soave, Gavi etc. Of course, that reputation did not fall from the sky. But, as I have already said, to place an equation mark between a region/grape variety and the low overall mean value is to disregard what may be statistical outliers, but -more often than not- great and even very good wines are just that: statistical outliers. Yet, if we’re talking potential, we can ill afford not to be looking at these, rather than at the dire average…
Many wines that, for one reason or another, fall into the “Super-Tuscan” category are wines of great finesse and detail, far from the overblown caricature co-spawned by the star-crossed partnership between Giacomino Suckling and willing native talent. I think your decision to edit that remark benefits your overall effort and enhances your integrity as a blogger.
Thanks for the interesting exchange and keep up the good work!

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Gogo March 11, 2011 at 10:40

Glad that we agree with Matelica, it was a big discovery for me this tiny piece of land, and the winemakers, even the high-end ones, are very friendly and willing to explain you everything. I like Le Marche a lot as wine region. And I like their Lacrima di Moro d’Alba, very funny and simple wine with such strong floral aroma. Then Rosso Conero is one of my favorite fruity red wines with great price. Again MdA but completely different style.
At the end, I have to thank YOU for tough peer review of my post. I got exactly the same feeling in my stomach as when I get response from reviewers after submitting an scientific paper to some journal 🙂

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dskidmore March 28, 2011 at 12:19

Is there any wine dealer in the London area who sells wine from Croatia/Slovenia? We were in Porec last year and had some excellent Malvasia but I have been unable to find any UK agents.Any help would be much appreciated.Best Wishes

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Gogo March 28, 2011 at 13:38

Check the web site of Pacta Connect
http://www.pactaconnect.co.uk
They are specialized in Istrian wines and I am sure they have Malvasia you dream of 🙂

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