The Philosophy of Kozlović Part 2

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Malvazija is always best served cold. This is a continuation from Part 1 where we discussed the history and thinking behind the wines. Now, let’s get in to the wines properly. We started with the 2006 Malvazija which is the core wine the Kozlović production. The nose has this nice, soft, lilting grapey set of aromas to it. The body is bright and tones of grapefruit come through on top of everything else. The finish is nice and smooth. Gianfranco amongst wines There is dryness, but it works wonderfully to refresh you. As described elsewhere the color is really lovely on this wine. It’s a nice, pale, beckoning yellow that sits well in your glass on a hot day. We then moved in to the 2004 Santa Lucia. This is a Malvazija that has a great meaty nose that speaks of pršut, the ham that they eat with great abundance in Croatia. There is light fruit throughout it and a touch of sweet melon aromas as well. It is an incredibly fresh wine, bright and like a meal for the nose. The wine is mixed with … Continue reading The Philosophy of Kozlović Part 2

The Philosophy of Kozlović Part 1

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe The valley of Kozlović winery with the Momjan fortress above. The last stop on our whirlwind tour of Istrian wines was Kozlović. The location that the family has settled in is spectacular one, near the village of Momjan. While the village is typical of the type you see in Istria, it has a nice standout feature which is the ruins of a fortress up on a hill. Like something out of medieval fairy tale, this stony skeleton floats about the small valley where the family built their current cellar in 1904 on a hill, overlooking some of their vines. Gianfranco Kozlović opens a bottle. Even when you strip away the setting and just focus on the wines, you see that this is a family that knows what it is doing when it comes to the grape. Their Malvazija can be gotten here and is getting to be recognized as a quite stellar make of this Istrian varietal. But there at the helm of everything is Gianfranco Kozlović. He is a character who loves his wines and loves the process of making wines. His various philosophies and … Continue reading The Philosophy of Kozlović Part 1

Tasting Degrassi at the Top of Istria

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe The Degrassis in their awards room. In the very top northwest corner of Istria is a small little tip that juts out in to the Adriatic and is where the two very small towns of Bašanija and and Savudrija. Bomarchese Malvazija It is here that the winery of Degrassi calls home. Of course, they don’t grow any of their vines here, those 15 hectares are around Buje which is much further inland to the east. But here are their cellars and tasting room. They have been doing business in this location since 2006, although the company has been around for the last 11 years. After a brief glance around, it is easily seen that the family has very good taste with everything appointed in handmade furniture and nice, dark fixtures. It’s also here that we learned the difference between Refošk and Teran, which are the same grape. Is the stem of the vine is red, is is Refošk. If the stem is green, it’s Teran. There were also some geographical distinctions in the past that have since faded away, leaving just the confusion about the name … Continue reading Tasting Degrassi at the Top of Istria

The Wine Half of Žigante

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Duvilio, the man and his bottle. When visiting Istria, the most common encounter with the name “Žigante” is in the form of truffles. This is one brother, Gian-Carlo, in the Žigante family who has invested himself heavily in truffle production for the area and they are indeed good truffles. Then there are the other brothers, Duvilio and Denis, who have invested themselves in to the wine making craft and as we found out are making some very good examples of wines from the region. Malvazija 2003 and 2004 The truffle thing is relatively new product for the Žigantes, seeing as how their family has been making wine for about 300 years. In 1997, the business came to fruition and started producing a greater volume of wine up on the top of hill near the village of Kostanija. They produce from 14 hectares that are solely owned by the family and a few other growers around the immediate area. Even still, they produce just 50,000 bottles a year, seemingly leaning towards growing a lower yield from the vines. Duvilio is quite a character that opens up a … Continue reading The Wine Half of Žigante

Two Tastes of Demian

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Andy Šipetić pours up a taste. Our first encounter with the wines of Demian and the wine maker himself, Andy Šipetić was in Novi Sad, Serbia of all places. It was somewhat logical as we were there for a visit with friends and he was there for the wine festival that they’ve been holding for the last fourth years. While that visit gave us an initial taste of his wines, a lunch with the wines expertly paired to the dishes, and music played by Andy (who used to tour as a guitarist for the Gypsy Kings before making wine full time) we didn’t get a chance to see his winery. For that, we’d have to go to Istria and so naturally, once we got to Istria we made our way down there. The elegant Barrique The Demian winery has been producing in one way or another for about the last 80 years. From 1928 to the 1990’s, they produced bulk wine for Italian producers. For the last 14 years, they started making their own wines and the last seven has seen their brand and production grow … Continue reading Two Tastes of Demian

In to Istria with Veralda

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Veralda’s vineyards with Buje in the background. Fresh off our hibernation from the beach while in Slovenia, we headed back out to the coast of Croatia. This time, we focused on the region of Istria, that little triangle of a peninsula off the far west of Croatia. After the rather arduous task of finding a place to stay without a reservation in high season, we set about exploring some of the wines of the area, especially those along the Istrian Wine Route. Our first stop was Veralda. Luciano Visintin and vino We met with the owner, Luciano Visintin. His family has made oil and wine for somewhere around 1,000 years–give or take a few. In 1997 they started they took the family craft and made it a proper business, producing some 300,000 to 400,000 liters of wine a year, once again, give or take a few. They produce this large quantity of wine from 26 hectares of land and they also buy from a few vineyards who neighbor their vines. Out of all this, the bulk of what they produce is Malvazija. Additionally, they produce Muškat, … Continue reading In to Istria with Veralda

In Eastern Slovenia with Vehovar

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Vehovar: father and sons. We cut across the Croatian border to Slovenia to stay with some family there in Slovenska Bistrica. On a previous trip, they had mentioned that their neighbor was a wine maker and that we might be interested to check out his winery. Whether it was fear of someone with a barrel in the garage they aged weekly or just lack of time, we didn’t get to it. This trip however, we made a proper visit to Vehovar Winery and were duly impressed. The winery is family-run affair with the father, Boris, at the helm. His two sons Sebastian and Isidor showed us around. They started up a new cellar in 1996 that has a 90,000 liter capacity and is 11 meters (36 feet) underground at the deepest point. Unfortunately due to a disastrous hail storm last year, they were only using 12,000 liters of that capacity. Sauvignon and Rumeni Muškat Their white wine production currently consists of Traminec, Riesling, Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Sivi (grey), Rumeni, Muškat, and Šipon. They do an ice harvest as well, but to add to the misery of … Continue reading In Eastern Slovenia with Vehovar

CAV – the Wine Bar and the Kitchen

The back dining area. It’s only after two years of its existence that people start to realize that CAV on Market Street in San Francisco is not only an excellent wine bar, it has a wonderful kitchen to boot. No one would be better suited than SF Chronicle restaurant critique Michael Bauer to attest the superb quality of Executive Chef’s Christine Mullen’s cuisine. The title of his review entails a double compliment: An accomplished kitchen to match the sublime wine list at CAV. Well, I feel quite qualified to provide testimony as well: I’ve recently been back to CAV specifically to check out the menu and can only rave about it. Rather than giving the details away, why don’t I leave you with good advise: Sit down and let the good times roll, i.e. tell the knowledgeable and friendly wait staff you want to explore their goodies. Trust me, they will treat you well and nicely pair each of the courses as they arrive on your table. Give it a try, you’ll love it. Not to be outdone by her culinary colleague, Wine Director Pamela Busch continued garnering additional awards to her already long list. This time it was California’s … Continue reading CAV – the Wine Bar and the Kitchen

A Familiar Stop at Horvat-Hudin

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe I hadn’t actually been to the Međimurje region before, but it felt a bit like home regardless. We had decided to take a bit of a detour to go north of Zagreb an hour or so in to this beautifully green region of Northern Croatia by the Slovenian-Hungarian border. Josip Hudin It’s a far departure from the coast and a place where they mainly only grow whites. For me though, it is the cradle of my father’s family. They originally came from this region, as well as the Zagorje. While most were farmers, some were winemakers. My father’s great uncle brought his wine press with him to America at the turn of the century. Apparently, some of the winemakers stayed on up there through two world wars and a civil war. But, this region was not nearly as affected as others by the up and down social history of Croatia as others. As we drove along through the Međimurje region on our way to the town of Štrigova, signs for the Vinska Cesta of the region kept popping up and we gradually started to find more … Continue reading A Familiar Stop at Horvat-Hudin

Međimurje-Zagorjes Wine Route

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe The Međimurje Wine Route After spending several weeks exploring the wines and wineries of the Croatian coast of Dalmatia, we were headed towards Slovenia. However, while in Zagreb for a couple of days, we were advised to check out the Wine Route of the little region of Međimurje, about an hour north of Zagreb in the area bordering Slovenia and Hungary. Once there we didn’t regret the detour, for it was one of the loveliest spots in the interior of Croatia that we’ve seen. In this extremely green area, even in summer vineyards are sparkling and verdant on the slopes of the gently rolling hills that cover the land. In between grape vines there are dots of traditional family houses for those who are still here, making the wine. Although obviously not as touristic or popular as the Wine Routes on the coastal areas, we found Međimurje’s Wine Road to be surprisingly well-developed and organized. Not only were we handed several brochures and maps of the main twenty something wineries that are part of the route, but we also saw plenty of road signs showing the … Continue reading Međimurje-Zagorjes Wine Route