Cracking Croatian Wine: A Visitor-Friendly Guide

After four years of deliberating and planning together, in May 2015, Charine Tan and Dr Matthew Horkey sold almost all of their possessions, dropped the comfort and security of their lucrative careers, and left Singapore to travel around the world. With a dream of building a location-independent business and to absorb the world’s lessons, they have explored over 50 wine regions and published four books (three of them are wine related) along the way. Cracking Croatian Wine: A Visitor-Friendly Guide is the third in a series of ‘Exotic Wine Travel’ books that they plan to author. They also share wine travel tips, videos, wine-related stories, and exciting finds from lesser-known wine regions on exoticwinetravel.com, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. When asked about the name ‘Exotic Wine Travel’, the duo explained that the problem with lesser-known wine regions and exotic wines is that, often, visitors bounce around a country swiftly and end up tasting some sub-standard local wines. Their experiences tend to be incidental and far from ideal. For that reason, Charine and Matthew aim to explore the unheralded wine regions of the world and introduce the readers to the best that those places have to offer. To achieve that, they … Continue reading Cracking Croatian Wine: A Visitor-Friendly Guide

#WineWednesday Spotlight #102: Miloš Stagnum

The Oxford University Wine Circle is the oldest student wine society in the world. Since 1962, it has organized frequent tastings and dinners for its members and their guests, bringing top quality producers to the university of Oxford. One of the society’s recent tastings featured a 1961 Aloxe-Corton, a 1995 Corton-Charlemagne, a 2003 Opus One and a 2003 Miloš Stagnum: So a couple of (opposite) ’03s.. ’03 Stagnum Milos.. against a ’03 Opus One… Well, we also had a 1961 Aloxe-Corton (rubbish) and a wonderful ’95 Corton-Charlemagne.. . Par for the course.. The Milos won! Goddamn, this Croatian wine is good! I really hope my subscribers get a chance to taste it! . . #croatia #plavacmali #milos The Stagnum is quite a special wine. Sourced from organic 30-year-old Plavac Mali vines planted on steep, dry-farmed terraced vineyards, it is fermented with wild yeasts, and aged in old Slavonian oak barrel for three years. The wine is rich and powerful with well structured tannins and it is definitively age-worthy. Is it the First Cult Wine of Croatia? Check this video from Exotic Wine Travel: We’re sold out of the 2003 but the 2007 vintage is still available, hurry up!

#WineWednesday Spotlight #101: BIBICh Lučica

Another contribution from our friend, BIBICh wine lover Marcy Gordon: Lučica, Lučica! How do I love thee Lučica, let me count the ways… 1) Produced by the master Alen Bibić. 2) My beloved Debit grape indigenous to Croatia. 3) The first Bibich wine I fell in love with. (The rest all followed quickly) 4) Always surprises me. 5) Orange is not the only wine, but it could be for me. (subtle Jeanette Winterson reference –google it) 6) Every sip transports me to Skradin. Thank you Alen Bibic for making Lučica! #Lučia #Bibich #winesofcroatia #wine #croatia #Skradin #orange #orangewine #bluedanubewine #dalmatia #winesofdalmatia #BibichWinery #BIBICh The BIBICh Lučica 2015 is a 100% Debit from old vines planted by Alen Bibić’s grandfather. It’s Alen’s special wine, macerated on the skins for two weeks, and fermented with natural yeast in French oak barrels for more than a year. It’s a serious age-worthy wine, evoking scents of Mediterranean dried herbs and the salty sea breeze and it’s also delicious right now. Ask Marcy!

The Tart, Salty and the Nutty from the other side of the Adriatic: Summer Wines from the Balkans

15 wines is a lot to get through without losing you after this sentence. However, there is a salty, tart, and often nutty line that connects them all from the Bay of Trieste down to Southern Dalmatia. These are our table wines for the summer. For the past few years, we’ve brought the Martinčič Cviček liter in from Dolenjsko (in between Zagreb and Ljubljana in Slovenia). This tongue-twisting blend of red and white grapes must be between 8.5-10% alcohol and dry by law. Now we are finally adding two more liters to round things out – the 2016 Modra Frankinja (Blaufränkisch) and 2016 Modri Pinot Rosé (Pinot Noir). They are both around 11-11.5% alcohol, incredibly low in SO2, and are impossibly fresh and full of character. Chill all three down and let them come up at the table. Roughly 2 hours West and a bit south by car and you hit Istria (Istra in Slovenia). Dominated by Malvasia Istarska, Teran and Refošk, the diversity by soil and proximity to the Adriatic is immense. Keeping with the liter theme, the 2016 Santomas LNG Refošk is our Dolcetto by the sea in that it satisfies the pizza/pasta needs but still lends itself … Continue reading The Tart, Salty and the Nutty from the other side of the Adriatic: Summer Wines from the Balkans

BIBICh’s Feast

Alen Bibić presenting his white Debit A little more than a year ago, we were in Skradin, North Dalmatia, for a sumptuous multi-course tasting menu with wine pairing. The place was not a restaurant but BIBICh Winery where Chef Vesna Bibić crafts elaborate gourmet dishes carefully paired with the BIBICh wines of her husband Alen. Vesna’s food and Alen’s wines are now famous in the US since Anthony Bourdain filmed a segment of his famous show No Reservations at the winery. Smoked trout, cucumber and bean sprouts granité, tuna, black radish and spring onion, tuna marinated in squid ink with black lentils, and lovely snail on the grass. We were so lucky to experience such a meal ourselves! We started the dinner with a festive glass of BIBICh Brut paired with a smoked trout, cucumber and bean sprouts granité. Alen’s deliciously fresh Debit came with a slice of tuna on black radish topped with spring onion. I particularly loved the black tuna marinated in squid ink with black lentils. The rich, slightly briny flavors of the dish went particularly well with the complex R5 that was served with it. Skradin risotto covered with gold Another highlight of the meal was … Continue reading BIBICh’s Feast

No Escape from Balkan

After a long hiatus, new Balkan wines from Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia & Herzegovina are finally here the second week of July. After looking over previous trip photos, putting together a fairly impressive Balkan playlist (currently listening to Dubioza Kolektiv), cooking some homemade Burek, and adding Ajvar to my morning eggs, I started to realize how much I missed these wines. The combination of salty, herby, oxidatively alive and zero to full tannins that both go with seafood sets these wines apart. We’ve even added some sparkling, sweet, Amfora, and some wines with 10+ years of age on them for good measure. Štoka Family Starting near the Italian and Croatian border in Slovenia, the Štoka family has been farming for over 200 years. The reds are sanguine, high acid, seemingly Marasca cherry infused and pungent despite being low in alcohol. They make you want rare meat, charcuterie and basically anything cured or pickled. If you over do it, please consider making some “Istarska Supa.” Moreno Coronica Directly south on western coast of Istria near the town of Umag is the Coronica winery. Moreno’s grandfather was Austro-Hungarian, his father was Italian, he was Yugoslavian, and now his children are Croatian. It’s … Continue reading No Escape from Balkan

#WineWednesday Spotlight #95: Šipun Žlahtina

The Šipun Žlahtina got a good review from the August issue of The Wine Enthusiast Magazine: This wine from the island of Krk is straw-colored, with aromas of apple blossom, green apple and lemon zest. It is well weighted in the mouth, with flavors of apple and citrus blossom and a creamy finish. 88 Points Žlathina is a white grape variety native to the island of Krk and it is, with the rare Sansigot, the main focus of Šipun‘s winemaker Ivica Dobrinčić. What Ivica particularly likes about Žlathina is its difficulty in accumulating sugar. Even in very hot years, Žlahtina wines are fresh and quite low in alcohol (only 11.5% for the Šipun Žlahtina 2015 vintage). I opened a bottle of Šipun Žlahtina for our 4th of July party and it was a real crowd-pleaser. Aromatic, with honeyed and peachy aromas and low in alcohol, this is a great wine to enjoy when it’s hot outside.

#WineWednesday Spotlight #93: Miloš Plavac

Our new Dalmatian container is coming soon with brand new vintages from the Miloš winery! The Miloš family has been making full bodied Plavac from the rugged coastal vineyards of Pelješac Peninsula in for over 500 years. Today, the wines are certified organic, made with minimal intervention and totally aged worthy. Wine lover and blogger Nenad Trifunović just reviewed the Miloš Plavac 2013 on his blog Dnevnik Vinopije (Diary of the Wine-Drinker): I still feel the playful fruit, the smell of ripe grapes harvested in the vineyard. I can see the bees and wasps sticking in the air filled with smells. While in the glass, the wine gradually releases figs and roasted almonds aromas. On the palate, the wine is well balanced. Clearly, the tannins are present, rubbing the palate but also associated with beautiful fresh balsamic notes. Ready to enjoy and ready for storage. Try the new Miloš wines on our webshop

Mon Chérry…

Forced French puns aside, in the 11th hour brainstorming that usually precedes a newsletter to the trade, it occurred to me — cherries! Marasca cherries, which grow up and down the Dalmatian coast (including Slovenia and Southern Hungary) became famous all over Europe once distilled into Maraschino. Most of this production eventually moved to Italy after the destruction of WWII, but famous producers like Luxardo (1821) were all founded in Croatia. Cherry festivals can also be found all over Croatia and neighboring Slovenia. Whether you’re in Istria/Slovene Istria (Piquentum, Coronica, Santomas), Goriška Brda (Kabaj), the Kras (Štoka), Dolenjska (Martinčič) or Štajerska (Črnko), cherries abound. Sour, bitter and sweet, they also play a role in the cuisine as fresh soups, desserts, added to stews, jams, syrups, etc… Granted, I know I’m not breaking new ground by attaching cherry flavors to wine. It’s less about the wines tasting like cherries (although some really do), but a similar balance between bitter, sweet and sour. Whether it’s skin contact Ravan (Friulano), Rebula (Ribolla Gialla) and Sivi Pinot (Pinot Grigio), salty barrel aged Malvasia Istriana, bloody Teran, sweet and sour Cviček, bright and aromatic white field blends, or tart Refošk, there’s a kinship at play. … Continue reading Mon Chérry…

#WineWednesday Spotlight #82: Coronica Malvasia

As a follow-up to my previous post Istria, the new Tuscany, let’s enjoy a glass of Coronica Malvasia 2015. Moreno Coronica farms 75 acres of “Terra Rossa” vineyards just outside the Istrian port town of Umag, 30 miles south of Trieste, Italy. His production is roughly 75% Malvasia, 25% Teran. He vinifies his Malvasia in stainless steel with cultured yeast at controlled temperature, followed by extensive time on the lees. While the wine is fresh and mineral, the lees provides a lovely mid-palate texture and then on the finish, there’s some saltiness reminiscent of the nearby sea. As the days are now getting longer and warmer, enjoy it with some tapas on a sunny evening.