In April 2012, Antony Bourdain toured Croatia’s Istria and Dalmatia regions and literally got knocked off his feet as he is treated to the finest Mediterranean cuisine and wines. “Why are the wines so good here?” asks Antony Bourdain while tasting Alen Bibić‘s red blend R6. “Is this a restaurant?” he asks later after being served a delicate scallops dish topped with goat cheese paired with BIBICh R5. “What’s going on here, really?” After the meal, he will thank Alen’s wife Vesna, a trained chef, on his knees for this impromptu meal “of epic quality accompanied by equally epic wines.” Let’s raise a glass of BIBICh wines in memory of Tony. Here is a moving homage from our friend and New York based sommelier and Wines of Croatia founder Cliff Rames: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bjx87sSBsTb/?hl=en&taken-by=cliff_rames And also from our friend wine writer and Founder – Writing Between the Vines Marcy Gordon: The sun sets on another day—let’s seize the moment while we can. Pay the debt with Debit. Pouring one for Mr. Bourdain tonight—cheers to the explorers who seek out great adventure and wine in life. I love the many expressions of Debit, an indigenous grape of Croatia. Alen Bibić knows how to … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #141: An Homage to Anthony Bourdain
A couple of months ago, Cliff Rames, founder of Wines of Croatia and also Contributing-Editor-at-Large for The SOMM Journal, led the SommCon San Diego attendees though a Wines of Croatia presentation, pointing out the connection between Croatia and California and recalling the quest for Zinfandel’s origins: Geographically, Croatia appeared to be a plausible source and once researchers began testing, they found numerous varieties that shared Zinfandel’s genetic material—including Plavac Mali. After years of study, they traced an exact match: seven vines that were locally called Crljenak Kaštelanski (historically known as Tribidrag) in the Dalmatian region of coastal Croatia. Plavac Mali, native to the Adriatic Coast, is the offspring of Tribidrag and Dobričić. The region’s extremely dry conditions and lack of irrigation make viticulture difficult and Plavac Mali was preferred over Zinfandel. Cliff presented the Miloš Stagnum 2007 to showcase how well Plavac Mali can age despite its low acidity and higher alcohol content: Intriguing aromas of mint, clove, and mushroom. On the palate, notes of bay leaf and green figs mingle around a tannic core of light roasted coffee, mint, chocolate, and plum pudding. A fascinating wine considering its maturity. We just received the Miloš Stagnum 2008, also a very … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #136: Miloš Stagnum
Earlier this year, Cliff Rames, Contributing-Editor-at-Large for The SOMM Journal and founder of Wines of Croatia presented the wines of Croatia and Georgia at SommCon in San Diego. Here is his introduction to the Gotsa Family Wines Mtsvane: Using traditional techniques, the winery team ferments the white Mtsvane grapes on the skins with native yeast in amphora vessels (called qvevri) for nine months. holes are drilled in the amphora, and once fermentation is complete, the vessels are unplugged and the wine is gravity-fed into amphora below for an additional 16 months of aging. The resulting wine is bottled without filtration or sulphur. The versatile style of these orange wines allows them to easily transition from course to course. “There’s certainly enough tannin in this wine to go with stek,” said Jay James. “I kind of feel like I need one at the moment!” Tasting Notes: negroni-like aromas of driend Turkish apricots, orange peel, and hints of blonde tobacco. Tannic with flavors of burnt caramel and a slight hoppy quality on the finish. Beka Gotsadze lives in Asureti, an ancient village in the foothills of of the Greater Caucasus, about 30 minutes away from Tbilisi. Beka is a creative architect who … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #128: Gotsa Family Wines Mtsvane
French-born winemaker Dimitri Brečević is the founder of Piquentum in Buzet, Istria where he grows the three Istrian varieties, Malvasia, Teran, and Refošk. In an old Italian water cistern made in the 1930s, Dimitri aims to make organic wines that express the typicity of the terroir. His Piquentum Rouge 2012, a 100% Teran, was recently tasted by Cliff Rames, sommelier and founder of Wines of Croatia, a website committed to serving as a timely and reliable source of information about Croatian wines for wine advocates and consumers, professional wine buyers and sommeliers, agro-tourists, members of the international wine trade, and the global media. Here is his contribution: 100% Teran of Istria. Thick and viscous, mouth filling and vibrant–but only 12.5% alcohol. Savory with dusty plum, bright cherry, and cured meat notes. Perfect with Italian pasta, charcuterie, and grilled meats. Learn more about Piquentum here.
Can you list 25 things that you know about Croatian wine? If you’re not sure but love the wines, Total Croatia New has compiled a fascinating list. Here is #1: 1. Tribidrag – one of the great red noble grape varieties of the world, known as Zinfandel in California as well as Primitivo in the south of Italy, hails from Croatia, more precisely from Dalmatia, where it is known as Crljenak Kaštelanski and Pribidrag or Tribidrag. New vineyards have been planted over the past decade and the most notable producers include Bedalov and Vuina from Kašela, Mimica from Omiš, Rizman from Komarna and Stina from the Island of Brač. and #21 features a familiar person: 21. Alen Bibić – of Bibich winery from Plastovo, near Skradin in Northern Dalmatia is probably the most versatile gastro & wine figure in Croatia encompassing wine production, fantastic private restaurant, great marketing skills while making some of the most expensive wines in Croatia and at the same time selling the largest portion of his production in the Unites States. Anthony Bourdain visited Bibich winery and famously proclaimed “Why, oh why, is there so much amazing wine in this country?”. Read the whole article here.
Cliff Rames, founder of Wines of Croatia and sommelier, writes about indigenous Croatian grapes making the most impact in the United States market for Total Croatia. On January 21, 2016, I asked the top three American importers of Croatian wines to reveal which Croatian wines were best sellers in 2015 and provide clues about what new and exciting developments await in 2016. So grab a glass of your top Croatian wine and check out revelations below, listed alphabetically by producer, with tasting notes and added commentary by the importers about what made the wines successful in the U.S. Here are the wines we import: Bibich R6 2012 (Red) 34% Babić; 33% Lasin; 33% Plavina “This northern Dalmatia wine shows more smoke and Mediterranean herbs than heavy, overbearing fruit,” observed Eric Danch, Northern California Sales Manager at Blue Danube Wine Company. “There’s immediate life and levity without compromising its unique character. It’s a wine that can be readily be devoured at a casual dinner party and yet capture the attention of wine professionals.” Miloš Plavac 2010 (Red) 100% Plavac Mali “Plavac Mali has a much thicker skin than any of the three native grapes in the Bibich R6,” noted Danch. “The … Continue reading Top Croatian Wines in the USA: Indigenous Grapes Grow Sales
Our friend, and sommelier Cliff Rames of Wines of Croatia, put together a fantastic article about the key wines of Croatia for Travel Curious Often. From the balmy banks of the Danube to the crystalline shores of Istria and Dalmatia, from the historic hills of the Croatian Uplands to the ancient walls of Stari Grad Field, and from the tables of Manhattan to the tasting rooms of Napa Valley, Croatia offers a diverse selection of wine styles and native grape varieties to suit every palate. Croatia may be a small country but it is rich in tradition and deeply rooted in the production and consumption of wine – an alluring pastime that is increasingly available for the adventurous wine lover to discover. Read the whole article here. Wines and grape varietals mentioned in the article: 1. Dubrovački Podrumi Crljenak Kaštelanski 2012 2. Carić Vina Plovac Ploški 2008 3. Piquentum Blanc 2013 (Istrian Malvasia) 4. Piquentum Rouge 2012 (Teran) 5. Dingač Vinarija Pelješac 2012 6. Dingač Vinarija Dingač 2009 7. Suha Punta Tirada Babić 2009 8. Šipun Žlahtina 2013 Browse all our Croatian wines here.
We caught up with our friend, and New York based sommelier, Cliff Rames, recently to share his thoughts on Croatian wine with you. Cliff also writes the popular blog, Wines of Croatia, which we encourage you to follow! 1. What makes you so passionate about Croatian wine? Well first, my father is from Croatia, so it’s in my blood I guess. When I was 16 years old my dad asked me if I wanted to go visit his birthplace, a small island called Murter off the Dalmatian coast. I said yes, and it forever changed my life. There I learned to drink Turkish coffee and “bevanda” – a mixture of red wine (usually homemade) and water. That kicked off my fascination with the local wine customs and traditions. It was then I also first heard of a mythological place called Dingač, the place from which (I was told by relatives) Croatia’s greatest wine came. I also began to hear words like Plavina, Debit, Babić, Plavac Mali, Pošip – the names of local grape varieties used to make wine. The more I heard and learned, the more I wanted to know! After that, back in the U.S., I found myself searching … Continue reading Interview with Cliff Rames, founder of “Wines of Croatia”