Is there a cult wine in Croatia?
It's hard to talk about cult wines in Croatia's short (new) wine history. However, there are wines that left a mark on the Croatian wine scene at a certain period of time.
In order to make this selection, we’ve talked to wine producers/professionals/consumers whose input was very valuable on the subject. As you will notice, most of the wines mentioned below are of older vintages and can be found only in personal archives of winemakers and passionate wine lovers. However, with the intention of making this list it’s kind of logical to talk about particular wines with a certain time lag.
We cannot stress enough these are not the only wines that left a mark on the Croatian wine scene at a certain period of time – this is just a selection of them.
*Most of these wines are produced only in exceptional vintages
Krauthaker Chardonnay Rosenberg
There is a reason why this wine comes without naming a specific vintage. This is because Krauthaker Chardonnay Rosenberg is for years now, since its first release on the market, a must-have wine for restaurants in Croatia.
Vlado Krauthaker, one of the pillars of Croatian winemaking, certainly knows how to produce a wine that will satisfy the most challenging of palates as well as absolute beginners.
Rosenberg is Krauthaker’s grand cru position famous for its Chardonnay grapes so no wonder this wine always delivers.
Bibich Bas de bas (red) 2008
This blend of Shiraz & Merlot from 2008 undoubtedly made a boom on the Croatian market. In our humble opinion, this wine is a personification of Alen Bibich – rustic in its character but with certain finesse, full of flavour, very expressive - a true representative of its terroir.
Bas de bas (under the floor, literally) vineyard is considered to be Bibich’s grand cru position.
This red enjoys a cult status among wine aficionados both in Croatia and in the US (Bibich’s biggest export market).
Clai Brombonero 2007
Giorgio Clai himself is a cult personality of Croatian winemaking and his Brombonero is for sure on the same track.
This 100% Refošk (refosco) is a love-or-hate wine because this grape variety (native to coastal part of Italy, Slovenia and Croatia - Friuli, Kras, Istria) is quite tannic, strong in flavour, dark in colour and – unless you are used to it – unusual to the palate.
However, Clai managed to tame it and make a big wine out of it.
Coronica Gran Teran 2007
Moreno Coronica has a reputation of being the master of Teran. He was one of the first (if not the first) who knew how to make a seriously good wine out of Teran grape, which is (like Refošk) the enfant terrible of Istrian grapes.
Coronica showed us that Teran loves longer aging in wooden barrels (in his case barrique) and bottles. His Gran Teran is an example of bold but well balanced wine, and definitely the one to remember.
Enjingi Venje (white) 2007
Any list of Croatian cult wines or winemakers would be incomplete without Mr. Ivan Enjingi from Vallis Aurea (golden valley). This blend of white grapes: Graševina, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Traminer from the Venje position was the first Croatian wine to make a significant breakthrough on the international market.
Venje 2007 can still be bought today in wine shops in Croatia so it definitely deserves to be on this list. It may not be in its prime at the moment but think of it as a walk/sip down the Croatian wine memory lane. Venje also comes in its red version.
Krajančić Pošip Sur lie 2008
Probably the best poet among Croatian winemakers, but for sure a master of Pošip and the one we should be thanking for creating a connoisseur white wine from Pošip grape – Luka Krajančić absolutely left a mark with his Pošip Sur lie.
Krajančić and Pošip, both originating from the island of Korčula, are tied with an inseparable bond. By ageing his Pošip on lees, Krajačić managed to encapsulate specific Mediterranean aromatics so no wonder some argue this is truly a cult wine.
Mendek Selekcija 2003
Marijo Mendek is not a winemaker, but he undoubtedly contributed to the creation of our wine scene. He had this idea that Plavac Mali is a grape which can give a big wine with a long aging potential (10+ years). In 2003, together with oenologist Robert Cipresso, Mendek managed to produce a wine according to his desires.
The vintage 2003 was exceptionally good (and warm) on the Pelješac peninsula and grapes from the most esteemed positions were perfectly concentrated: packed with sugar, flavours and natural tannins. Mendek Selekcija 2003 still has this long lasting aroma and power.
Miloš Stagnum 2005
Every vintage of Stagnum is more or less considered to be a cult wine, just as family Miloš is one of the milestones of Croatian wine scene. It was difficult to decide which vintage to point out here, but we decided to go with the 2005.
Stagnum is 100% Plavac Mali grape coming from a position of Ponikve on the Pelješac peninsula (as opposed to most famous Dingač and Postup). This position gives grapes of perfect ripeness and higher acidity (than you would expect from this variety) so respective wines feel more elegant and “fresh” and not at all jamy.
Frano Miloš is a pioneer of Plavac Mali and his Stagnums from early 2000s are just getting better with age.
Roxanich Classica 2006
Roxanich Malvazija Classica 2006 is not your average fruity and flowery Malvazija from Istria. Think of it as a meditative wine. Prolonged maceration (extraction from the grape skin and seed), aging in big wooden barrels and Mladen Rožanić’s uncompromising vision resulted in a wine of complex aromatic profile that became a favourite to many connoisseurs.
Even though Roxanich Classica was produced only in 2006 and today can be found mainly in personal archives of passionate wine and cigar aficionados, it still shows remarkable freshness and the finest aromatics of Istrian summer afternoons.
Tomac Amfora Rizling 2009
It’s hard to name just one “cult” wine from the Tomac winery. Some argue their Chardonnay Premier was the cult one; their sparkling Amfora is remarkable… However, after long contemplation, we decided to go with Tomac Amfora Rizling 2009.
There are several reasons for our choice. First of all, Riesling grape loves amphora vessels. Secondly, Riesling wine gets only better with age. Finally, there is no wine feinschmecker who doesn’t love Riesling. This wine is designed for wine lovers and should be enjoyed with outmost respect.
Think of this list as just the beginning of naming the wines which left a mark at a certain period of Croatian winemaking history.
Even though certain vintages of above-mentioned wines are currently not available on the market, we encourage you to try actual vintages. All of the above are exceptional wines regardless of vintages and most probably will find their place in similar lists in the future.
To be continued…
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