Why You Need to Taste the New ‘It’ Wines From Croatia and Beyond

Wine writer Lauren Mowery tells you why you need to try wines from Croatia…and elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Start with gorgeous Croatia, a wine-rich culture blessed with a long Adriatic coastline, and continue east, curving around the Black Sea with Moldova, Bulgaria, and Turkey; each country offers indigenous grapes at affordable prices, allowing imbibers to visit far-flung locales, via wine, for less than $20. Read the rest of the article on The Village Voice blog. Try one of the “it” wines recommended by sommelier Cliff Rames, Wines of Croatia: Bibich R6 Riserva

Croatian Wine Tasting at Bistro SF Grill

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you must go visit Bistro SF Grill! It is a cozy, intimate spot in San Francisco’s Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood. Co-owners Gino, Hasim, and Seni make you feel right at home with their slightly Balkan influenced menu and wine list; all three are originally from Bosnia-Herzegovina. We had the pleasure of spending an evening with them this week to celebrate our latest arrival of Croatian wine. The guys put together a flight of 5 wines for guests to choose which included: Bibich Debit, Šipun Žlahtina, Bibich G6 Grenache, Miloš Plavac Mali, and Dubrovački Crljenak Kaštelanski (aka Croatian Zinfandel). It was a fun night of exploration, good conversation, and wine! The experience is not complete without one of their fabulous burgers. I highly recommend the Balkan Burger, which is a lamb patty between pita bread with mint yogurt sauce.

Exploring the Dalmatian Coast and Suha Punta Wines with Marion & Zdravko Podolski

Our friends Marion and Zdravko divide there time between California and Croatia, sharing their experiences through the blog “Go Hvar – Ramblings About a Far Island“. Recently they visited the Dalmatian coast, stopping to tour and taste at Suha Punta winery. Marion and Zdravko have graciously allowed us to share their piece with you. Živjeli (cheers)! Exploring the Dalmatian coast – Primošten, Suha Punta wines and the vineyards of Bucavac Our normal mode of driving north from Hvar is to take the inland motorway. It’s fast and easy, and we’re usually on our way to Zagreb with no time for scenic diversions. But this May we treated ourselves to a more relaxed trip up the magistrala, that wonderfully scenic Croatian coastal road. Setting out from Hvar on a rainy Saturday morning, the clouds gradually cleared as we drove past Trogir, with the road pretty much to ourselves. Coming up towards Primošten, we spotted a large boatyard backed by a spectacular pattern of drystone walls. This was Bucavac, known for good reason as “stone lace“, and looking just like an Oton Gliha painting. (Note: Bucavac is pronounced “Boots-a-vats” as in Croatian “c” is actually “ts”.) These are not terraced vineyards, as … Continue reading Exploring the Dalmatian Coast and Suha Punta Wines with Marion & Zdravko Podolski

Crljenak Kaštelanski — Discovering Zinfandel’s Croatian Roots

The Mrčevlje vineyard above the village of Cavtat where the Dubrovački Crljenak Kaštelanski grows. It is a very exciting time to be a student of wine. DNA fingerprinting has led to many new discoveries about grape varietals, in particular identifying genetic relationships. One such discovery was made in 2001 by University of Davis professor, Carole Meredith. After hearing suggestions that Zinfandel may be related to a Croatian grape, Meredith went to Croatia to collect samples. What she found is that Zinfandel is actually an indigenous Croatian varietal referred to locally as Crljenak Kaštelanski. Other than California, the grape is cultivated extensively in Italy, going by the name Primitivo. Read the full story of how the Original Zinfandel was found in Croatia: here. It has been a long time since we have had a Crljenak Kaštelanski (CK for short) also known as Tribidrag in our portfolio. Many of you sent requests and inquiries so we are pleased to introduce the 2012 Dubrovački Podrumi Crljenak (Zinfandel). Dubrovački Podrumi was founded in 1877 by Kolić Pero, a wine merchant. After World War II, the winery became a state-run operation. In 2000, the winery was bought by local entrepreneurs who revitalized the winemaking program … Continue reading Crljenak Kaštelanski — Discovering Zinfandel’s Croatian Roots

Bibich Lučica 2011, one of W&S Best Eastern European Wines

The new 2011 vintage of the BIBICh Lucica has just received a very nice review published in the current edition of Wine & Spirits Magazine. Check what they say about the wine: Alen Bibic pulls this wine from debit vines his grandfather planted some 50 years ago in Plastovo, a small village hemmed in between Croatia’s vast Krka national park and the Adriatic coast. The dry-farmed bush vines produce very little fruit, which Bibic macerates on the skins for two weeks, and ferments without added yeast in French oak barrels. The result is a wine as rich as its burnished golden hue, with a yeasty, salty aspect that brings fino sherry to mind. As it opens in the glass, it gets fresher, with a crisp tang of an antique apple variety and a corresponding apple-skin grip. The firm structure and freshness suggest that this will age well, although it’s delicious now with a pork chop. We hope you’ll try the wine very soon. This summer, this will be the perfect companion for Spanish tapas.

A Grand Atypical Rosé

One of the most unexpected wines of the season, has to be the Rosé  from Miloš winery in Croatia. Struggling to understand how this atmospheric mineral delight came to be, I called up Ivan Miloš who makes the wine with his father Frano for a little Q and A. And then I hope that like me, you’ll taste and enjoy this “truly serious, grand, atypical wine”. Miloš vineyards: Old vine Plavac amongs walled terraces of Dolomitic limestone. Photo Credit: Frano Miloš Why does Miloš make a Rosé? The Miloš family farm has a very unique location on the Pelješac peninsula at the southern part of Croatia. We are 100% focused on that one spot planted with one grape, Plavac Mali. Combined with the dolomitic limestone of our terraced vineyards, it gives us grapes of such a unique quality, we simply wanted to show the richness of its pure juice, Rosé is the best way to do this. Where did the idea to make a Rosé from the best grapes of the harvest come from? We were tasting rose wines from other appelpations and countries, and we found very few which met our taste. Unfortunately, most rosé are light with almost no structure. We hate … Continue reading A Grand Atypical Rosé

Dalmatian Island Wine: The Carić Winery

Our friends Andrew Villone, of Savor the Experience Tours, and Wine Awesomeness teamed up to present this informative interview with Ivana Carić herself about why you need to visit Hvar and her winery. Particularly interesting are her local food and wine pairing suggestions. We, the Carić family, love salted anchovies served with raštika (collard). We pair this with our white wine Bogdanjuša. Collard is a very old type of cabbage, eaten in the Roman times. Today, it’s hard to find this form of cabbage in the market or in stores, but every house on the island has it in its garden. Read the whole article here. Browse Carić wines here.

The Captain of Krk and an Island Hvar Hvar Away…

Partly because it’s already hitting 80 degrees in my adopted hometown of Sacramento, and partly because I miss Croatia, I’d like to highlight two island wines this month. Island wine regions, whether they be Italian, Spanish, Greek, French, or Kiwi, are all fiercely independent with their respective language, food and wine. Croatia is no different and the Island of Krk and the Island of Hvar both possess something unique from the mainland. At the risk of both a Star Trek and Star Wars pun, these are both serious wines with great stories, made by wonderful people, and from impossibly beautiful places. 2013 Šipun Žlahtina, Island of Krk, Croatia… Crossing the bridge to the Island of Krk, one might be surprised by all the advertisements; some for a local casino, some for other types of seemingly out of place entertainment venues. Sadly this is the direction most of the inhabitants of the island are heading to generate income. The idea of producing a physical product, be it wine, olive oil, or other goods is being left behind for the easier income of renting out apartments. There is however, one man who is not only sustaining himself and his family with winemaking, … Continue reading The Captain of Krk and an Island Hvar Hvar Away…

Revenge of the Wine Spritzer

While you may not be able to recall the last time you encountered a wine spritzer, the beverage is quite popular in many countries. In fact throughout most of Eastern Europe you will find that adding a touch of sparkling water to wine is just as common as drinking wine on its own. Why? First off, wine plays a different role in Eastern European cultures than it does in the West. On this difference Stetson Robbins of Blue Danube Wines says “they view wine as less precious. It’s just part of the table, like bread. I think in Central and Eastern Europe this quality is even stronger.” Well, there you have it. Read the rest of this article by Wine Awesomeness here. In Slovenia, a popular wine for a spritzer is Črnko Jareninčan which will be back in stock soon. Or try the article’s suggestion and add a little spritz to Georgian Saperavi. This fresh style by Schuchmann will do the trick.

Visit a Winery: BIBICh in Dalmatia, Croatia

The Region Šibenik is an idyllic port city along the Dalmatian Coast, about an hour and a half from Split to the south, and Zadar to the north. Set against a backdrop of shimmering blue sea, the town is also an important access point to the Krka National Park and the Kornati Islands. The Winery The BIBICh Winery is located in the hills of Skradin, about 5 miles east of of Šibenik. Alen Bibić has really put the region on the map with consistently high-quality wines. Although Alen takes pride in indigenous varieties like the Zinfandel-related grapes Babić, Lasin, and Plavina, and the white Debit, he also enjoys working with international ones like Merlot and Syrah (Shiraz). Things to do and see The BIBICh winery offers special wine tasting menus that you will need to arrange ahead of time. Each wine is paired with a gourmet bite utilizing local products, thoughtfully put together by Alen’s wife, Vesna. While there is no onsite hotel, the nearby Villa Barbara hotel comes highly recommended. Located right by River Krka and the Skradin marina, Villa Barbara offers spacious apartments within walking distance of the local bus station. A trip to the Krka National Park … Continue reading Visit a Winery: BIBICh in Dalmatia, Croatia