Meet Graševina – Absolute Queen of the Croatian Vineyards
Besides being the most planted grape variety in Croatia, Graševina is the most sought-after white wine. The Slavonia region is almost a synonym for this variety, where Graševina shows the best results. We aren’t sure about the true origin of it, some literature states France, Italy while other go with neighboring Austria, but most of the experts agree on its remarkable expression right here in Croatia. Let’s find out more about Graševina!
According to some researchers, every fifth vine in Croatia – goes to Graševina. It is highly planted in the Slavonia region, but you will find it almost everywhere in the continental part of Croatia. It thrives on cooler soils and continental climate. Winemakers are always happy to have it in their vineyards as she brings the results even in the challenging years.
No celebration or a good party here in Croatia goes without Graševina. It’s so popular and in demand, that most of this white wine is consumed on the domestic market. Internationally approved, this is the wine that often receives recognition on various wine competitions outside Croatia.
So if you enjoy Chenin Blanc, younger Rieslings, Graševina could be the next on your list. A variety so diverse in styles, from the sparkling wines to the sweet, dessert wines, that we are very confident that you’ll find the one that will suit your palate the most.
Different Graševina Expressions: From Sparkling to Sweet
Graševina is a late harvesting grape variety and, in the simplest young and fresh style, it will have dominantly fruity, flowery character with crispy acidity and medium alcohol levels. It is excellent as a great start of a meal, as a chilled aperitif drink and companion to summer foods like clams, oysters, salads and of course, cured meat and cheeses.
Because it is a late harvesting grape variety and very resistant to diseases, some winemakers in Croatia tend to leave it a bit more in the vineyards, just until 5-10 % of the grapes get affected by the noble rot Bortytis. This kind of noble rot is very welcoming, when the conditions allow it, in the winemaking. Noble rot causes the grapes to shrink and accumulate acids and sugars, giving the special and cherished flavors to the wine.
These styles show more complex and structure, fruit aromas become riper and, in some cases, cooked. There is a honey character on the nose, but well balanced with the fresh apples and citrus fruits. Graševina made in this style will often have more slightly more alcohol, and in drier years that level can exceed 14 % alc. Nevertheless, concentrated berries give these wines power and more body, so the alcohol never stands out, but is rather well integrated into the wine.
When the vintage conditions allow it, producers will make selected berries harvest producing intense dessert wines that require time to develop.
You can even pick it so late, in the winter when the temperatures go below 0 °C degree Celsius and grapes freeze on the vines – producing adored golden drops of sweet Ice wine.
Are you thinking bubbles? Yes, there are producers in Croatia that are making sparkling Graševina wines!
Known as Welschriesling, Laški Rizling or Olasz Riesling, Graševina is planted all over this part of Eastern Europe, but believed to show the best results right here, in Croatia.
Winemakers point out that Graševina is the most thankful variety in the vineyard. Best results are found on cold loam and clay soils in continental Croatia. Top positioned vineyards are usually placed on the slopes of mountains, above the fertile plains, reaching 200 – 300 meters of height.
Some winemakers, like Vlado Krauthaker, produce their their premium Graševina Mitrovac from the vineyards that have vines older than 30 years. These wines show concentration, power, and elegance and in good vintages give the wine strength to develop in the bottle, for more than 5 years.
Graševina – Style of Wine
Graševina is a white wine, often considered to have delicious aromas of ripe fruit, sweet and juicy apples, pears and quince on the nose. Fruit is accompanied by the flower sensations, almost like you can feel the fields of elderflowers growing near the vines.
Depending on the vineyards positions, you’ll often find mineral expressions from the soil in your glass of Graševina.
Because of all of the mentioned above, Graševina is a perfect wine to accompany food. And by that, we aren’t talking only about the traditional, continental dishes. With its minerality, freshness and structure, Graševina is a great company for your summer food served along Dalmatian coast.
Next time when exploring something new to go with your clams or oysters, think about it. You could easily get surprised!
Top positions in Croatia, are Kutjevo, Hrnjevac, Mitrovac and Venje. These position, with lower yields and right vineyard management, give Graševina such complexity and longevity that wine lovers often leave few bottles of this premium location in the wine cellar to see how it develops and where it can go.
Ageing potential of Graševina
Graševina wines, made in dry or semi-dry styles, are often released to the market to be consumed young, fresh and energetic but that doesn’t diminish their true potential for ageing.
When talking about premium Graševina, from top producers like Krauthaker, Enjingi, Mihalj winery, and their wines that are rarely priced above 10 EUR, the potential for ageing is astonishing.
We recently wrote about Enjingi Venje – which is a collectors treasure and the same goes for premium Graševina. Recently, we had a vertical tasting of Krauthaker Mitrovac Graševina – currently one of the most valued winemakers and Graševina producers among the wine lovers and connoisseurs.
Vlado Krauthaker started producing his premium line of the Graševina Mitrovac in 2004. Tastings have shown that his bottles, some older than 10 years show development. Through the aging process, Graševina has become softer and rounder, aromas develop in a riper style; cooked peaches, pears, quince and some tropical nuances are followed by honey and mushrooms in the latest vintages.
Vintage 2013 was exceptional and winemakers are expecting the results from the wines in 2015 and 2016 will be even better for Graševina.
If you really want to relate to Croatian customs, you’ll have to try this!
Although it was mainly associated with low-quality wines, that weren’t drinkable on their own and needed to be diluted, this custom changed and is coming back – only with well-crafted wines this time.
Gemišt (Gemischt) is an unusual custom if talking about fine wine production. When wine drinkers in Croatia wanted a light, crispy drink to refresh themselves during the day, they would dilute with sparkling mineral water – waterand called it Gemišt! White wines for this “cocktail” were mainly made from Graševina or Malvasia Istriana.
As odd as it sounds, if you picture a really hot, hot summer day and dry, thirsty mouth – Gemišt could sound better. We’ll leave it for you to try, just be sure not to pick a bottle of fine wine to mix! 🙂
By Martina Miličević pret-a-wine
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