15-04-2012 ~ 4 Comments

Zagreb Wine Gourmet Weekend Day III

In many cultures, Sunday is a day of rest. For the attendees, exhibitors, and staff at the Zagreb Wine Gourmet Weekend, after Days I & II it was indeed this, as well as a day of penance. Most everyone was off to a pretty bumpy morning given that all of the largest parties happened Saturday night. Even the two guys handing out glasses looked like they’d been dancing in traffic until the sun came up.

There were those of us who called it an early night at 01:00 after going to the smashing tasting at Apetit of Piquentum’s wines that was put on by Brava Wine with some additional, deliciously-obscure wines (like Žlatina from Krš in Herzegovina) pulled out of nowhere by Blue Danube Wine. The advantage in attending this small, intimate affair was that it allowed one to be fresh in the morning and head in to this last day of the wine fair in a rather uncrowded fashion.

First was spending a good deal of time with all of the Matošević wines. It went to show that yes, they are indeed still solid and their new Grimalda line is proving to be an interesting one, despite the fact that the cuvée is a rather foreign way to make wine in Croatia where they prefer single varietals. Their acacia aged wines are really special and unique. If you get a chance to taste them, do it.

It’s much the same for Batič who was next door to Matošević. We had tasted most of his wines about a year ago in San Francisco. They were great then, but Miha tossed a stick of dynamite in to his car on the drive over from Slovenia which is his Angel Grand Cuvée. Holy crap that’s delicious. It’s a wine that they’ve only made three times in the last 20 years as conditions need to be ideal for it and I can see why. This Bordeaux-style blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon is something really special. Saying that it’s outstandingly well-structured, round, smooth, deep, and any other number of superlatives doesn’t do it justice. Even though it’s an expensive bottle for the region at ~32€, if found, buy.

Going through a tasting of Bura-Mrgudić was full of good things. Obviously, the biggest one being the Bura, from which they were pouring the 2009 vintage. Delicious and an even better wine than the 2008. The Postup was also an enjoyable first taste and it was nice to see where their entry-level Galeria is going. The big surprise was to come across the Zinfandel that they’ve just started bottling at the behest of Robert Benmosche. It comes from a new vineyard planted up from Orebić that they’re calling Diamond Hill. It is overall a bit fruit forward at the moment. The vines need to get a bit older and this particular vintage could spend a bit more time in the bottle, but it definitely shows a great deal of promise for these vines planted where there had been none for over 100 years.

And then there was Buhač. Based in Ilok, Slavonia, they are making some wines that really blew my mind. The Graševina, Chardonnay, and Traminac were all excellent examples of these wines from this region. The Chardonnay, which was made from an early and late harvest was especially deep, but with a lovely, light acidity running through it. Their Cabernet Sauvignon was good and shows a great deal of promise, but it needs probably another month or two of bottle acclimation to be fully appreciated. The Merlot however was fantastic. With a shortbread nose that I’ve only found in a Merlot from Konavle (in south Dalmatia) before, it has these wonderfully downplayed dark fruits that are balanced with light tannins. It would be great by itself or great with meals. Many, many people were talking about this wine after tasting it.

Lastly, there were the foods. While overshadowed a great deal by the wines presentation, there was a solid offer of the meats, cheeses, chocolates, sweets, and fruit wines that people sometimes miss in Croatia, but are really top notch. If you didn’t stop in to sample some Paški sir and kulen, shame on you. If you did, but didn’t pick up any to eat at home, you will have a rather sad plate in your future, which will rightfully mock you.

And that’s it, another installment of Croatian wines and food has come to a close. Time for everyone to dry out a little and head back to their little piece of this crescent-shaped, delicious country.