Exploring Croatian Wine
Host ~ Renée Sferrazza
Sommelier and Wine Professional
Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers Board
Here we look deep into the world of wine and pull out all the useful information that you can bring into your own wine journey. Wine is pleasure, wine is beauty, wine is simple yet complex. There are so many sides to the world of wine. Follow me, Renée Sferrazza, as I break down the world of wine into simple sips.
As a Court of Master Sommeliers Certified Sommelier, CAPS Board member, wine educator, wine writer, importer and contracted peddler of fortified
juice, exploring wine has become more than just a driving force in my life. I’m passionate about bringing a different side of wine to the table. A side that’s romantic, but not pretentious and above all, practical. Essentially, I’ve dedicated my life to grapes - welcome to The Wine Effect.
Along the beautiful Adriatic coast across from Italy is Croatia. Croatia has been making wine for more than 2400 years. The country's wine history dates back to the Greek Empire, with the coastal and island vineyards started even earlier by the Illyrians during the Bronze age. The climate, geography and grape varietals of the regions all work together in the glass.
Wines production centers around native grapes like Plavac Mali, Posip and Teran; these indigenous grapes bring the regions' Adriatic culture of this region into every sip. There is, however, one Croatian grape that has made it around the world – although it has seen a name change. Originally named Tribidrag, this Croatian native varietal goes by on wine lists under Zinfandel.
In this edition of The Wine Effect, we are exploring everything Croatian wine! Where they grow, winemaking styles and the wines you need to try. Croatian wines are finding their way to LCBO shelves and wine lists; it is time to dive into this region and see what it has in store.
Key Regions of Croatia to Explore Croatia's wine production is in into three central regions. The peninsula of Istria, the Dalmatian coast and islands, and the inland continental areas that border Eastern European countries.
With the ideal winter and summer temperatures, Istria is perfectly positioned for growing grapes organically. The trademark Terra Rossa soils of the region's vineyards bring a depth of minerality to the wines. Home to many boutique wineries wines from native grapes like Malvazija Istarska, Teran and Refošk. However, many productions from Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon can be found from Istria.
Dalmatian Coast and Croatian Islands Heading south from Istria along the Adriatic coastline is the region of Dalmatia. Dalmatia is a large area that is divided into three main sections marked by a dramatic terrain. Mountains seem to rise out of the sea, and vineyards are moments away from the coast itself, with some vineyards sitting on the slopes of the rocky mountain sides taking in all the sun and breeze coming off the sea. The coast has a similar climate to Istria, but it is the aspect of the vineyards that make this region different. Delivering more sunlight to the vines and creating the perfect seating for growing red wine grapes that show bold in the glass.
Just off the coastline from the Pelješac peninsula midway down the coast are thousands of islands ranging in size. The islands of Korčula, Brač, Hvar, Pakleni islands and top regions to visit. These islands have a place in world wine history. Hvar's island is home to the world's longest continually cultivated vineyard, the Unesco World Heritage Site of Stari Grad Plain. Grapes have been grown since 400 BC. Korčula is also home to century-old vineyard lands and the birthplace of the native grape Pošip. It is even believed to be the home island of explorer Marco Polo.
The Dalmatian coast and islands are the epicentres for wine productions in Croatia. There are more native grapes here than in any other wine-producing area in the country, with grapes like Pošip, Grk, Plavac Mali, and Babić, to name a few.
In the Slavonia and Danube region that borders Serbia, the terrain is flatter. The main grapes of Graševina and Traminac, both white grapes (Traminac is the Croatian counterpart Gewürtztraminer) as well as red wines made from Frankovka are grown here. The region is also known for its production of Slavonia oak, the oak used in Barolo and Barbaresco's great red wines.Croatian Grapes to Know Native grapes grow in every region of Croatia! Don't let the names scare you off because the more wine you try, the easier the names become to pronounce.
Teran Also native to Istria's regions, Teran makes earthy, full-bodied red wines that have refinement in the glass. Fans of Italian wines might have tried this grape before under the name Terrano. Croatian productions tend to be bolder in flavour, whereas the Italian style has main similarities to Refosco. Istrian wines from this grape are marked by notes of violets, wild blackberries and smoky game-like notes in the glass. The structure of wines made from Teran also makes for an incredibly ageable wine that can be cellared for many years.
One this is certain when it comes to Croatian wine, once you start, you can't stop! Wines from this Eastern European wine region have the power to transport you to worlds away in the glass, and maybe even for your next European vacation.
If you are interested in exploring the world of Croatian wine more, I invited you to join me for Taste of the Adriatic, a virtual wine tasting event exploring Croatian wines on Sunday, November 22nd at noon!
Head to www.CroatiaUnpacked.com to get your ticket, with wines included. I will be joined by outstanding winemakers from across the Croatian coastline, so join me on this trip to the Adriatic in the glass.
Cheers till next time, drink good wine!