A Day in the Golden Valley (part 1: Krauthaker)

After a comprehensive tasting at the Krauthaker estate. Too early in the morning, we’re plucked from our hotel in Dubrovnik and deposited at the small airport for our flight north to Zagreb. Just two hours later, we’re on our way by car to Slavonia, in the northeastern leg of Croatia bounded on three sides by Hungary, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. We’re chauffered by the cheerful 23-year-old son of the label designer for Vlado Krauthaker in the town of Kutjevo, considered the center of Slavonian winemaking. The scenery here is very different from the coast, where precipitous, rocky slopes slant down to water’s edge and even inland valleys are ringed by craggy mountain ranges. Here there are vast fields of wheat and what looks like rye, and we’re told that much tobacco, too, is grown along this 55km valley with rounded ranges in the distance, which has been called the golden valley (Vallis Aurea) since Roman times. The vineyards are planted on the south slopes of the Krndija and Papuk mountains at 200 to 400 meters elevation. The region produces 80 to 90% white wine, and is known for elegant wines from the grasevina grape, a.k.a. welschriesling. We visit only … Continue reading A Day in the Golden Valley (part 1: Krauthaker)

A Day in the Golden Valley (part 2: Enjingi)

Gently sloped vineyards in Venje near Kutjevo. (continued from part 1) We have been told that Ivan Enjingi is a mercurial soul, but perhaps we’ve been immunized by our native habitat of New York — we find a generous, even gregarious man with twinkling eyes and a smooth cap of silvery hair waiting in his private cellar with a feast of cheeses and meats arranged on a barrel top. We sip Enjingi Zweigelt, a red with lovely aromatic herb, bayleaf, and red currant aromas until half of his pair of young enologists, Josipa Andrijanic, arrives. The other, Milan Budinski joins us as we wander through the fermentation rooms taking samples from the taps. It’s difficult to take notes on the hoof like this, but we taste Enjingi’s dry, late-harvest grasevina, a beautiful late-harvest Rhine riesling, about a dozen experiments and wines in development, and two real stand-outs: Enologists Milan Budinski and Josipa Andrijanic next to Ivan Enjingi. VENJE 2002 Named after the town where Enjingi is based, this is a blend of riesling, pinot gris, welschriesling, sauvignon blanc, and traminac that is made only in favorable years and is matured in barrique. It has medium body and an Old World … Continue reading A Day in the Golden Valley (part 2: Enjingi)

The Austrian Side of Pfneisl

The main winery headquarters and tasting room. Windmills along the way. The same day that we paid a trip to the Hungarian side of Pfneisl (which is actually the separate company of Pfneiszl), we also took a trip across the Austrian/Hungarian border that no long exists due to the 2007 Schengen enlargement. After a bit more of a trip, we were able to see how wine making was for the Austrian side of things. As we quickly saw near the small town of Deutschkreutz, winegrowing appears to be going very well. The family has been making wine for over a century in this area and to date now harvests from an astounding 70 hectares (175 acres) of vineyard land. It’s quite overwhelming to stand in the middle of it. This is of course made all the more impressive by the extremely modern tasting room and headquarters that they constructed, which you can see in the photo above. The structure has won numerous design awards and is often featured in roundups of impressive winery architecture. Naturally, buildings are great because you need somewhere to age and taste the wine, but what is of course most important is the wine itself. Pfneisl … Continue reading The Austrian Side of Pfneisl