Zlatna Žlahtina 1999: Golden Grape or Faded Glory?

By Cliff Rames © 2014 

A few weeks ago I was rummaging around my father’s wine cabinet and found a forgotten, dusty bottle of white – a 1999 PZ Vrbnik Zlatna Žlahtina from the island of Krk in the Kvarner wine growing region along the northern coast of Croatia. Since my father rarely drinks white wine and didn’t even know the bottle existed or where it came from, he let me have it. For “research” purposes. 

Photo: Cliff Rames © 2014
Photo: Cliff Rames © 2014

I was skeptical. A 15-year old Žlahtina? I mean, I’ve opened 3-year old Pinto Grigio wines that were an oxidized mess. Also this particular bottle was never properly stored, languishing for most of its life on a shelf in my parent’s sunny dining room.

Read more

Sunday Snapshot: Babić of the Mountains

By Cliff Rames © 2014

Several years ago I had the distinct opportunity to visit the vineyards of Stipe Gašperov, which lie in a very remote, rugged and starkly barren region in the mountains behind the seaside resort town of Primošten. Here Mr. Gašperov somehow managed to plant and cultivate babić grapes in a moonscape-like terroir of limestone and red soil. The vines in places are literally planted in small crevices or holes in stone. It’s no wonder then that his wine is called “Kamena Suza”, or tears of a stone.

Read more

Sunday Snapshot: Zagorje

Zagorje is a wine growing region nestled in the cool, green rolling hills of northern Croatia, just beyond the capital city, Zagreb, and Medvednica mountain. Slovenia lies to the north.

The region is noted for the cultivation of cool climate grapes, about 90% of which are whites varieties such as graševina, pušiplje (aka moslavac or šipon), kerner, gewürztraminer, müller-thurgau (aka: rizvanac), yellow muscat, pinot blanc, pinot gris, riesling, sauvignon blanc, and sylvaner.

Red varieties include blaufrankisch, gamay, pinot noir, portugieser, cabernet franc, and cabernet sauvignon.

Enjoy the view – and try to taste these refreshing and food-friendly wines if you can! Cheers!

photo © Cliff Rames
photo © Cliff Rames

Sunday Snapshot: BIBICh Lučica Vineyard, Skradin

High in the stoney hills above Skradin in northern Dalmatia and just off the road to BIBICh winery in Plastovo village, there is a rustic tractor path that snakes through a scrubby patch of grey oak and olive trees overgrown with nettles, spiny broom, and juniper bushes. If you trudge down this unassuming path, you will emerge into an open area and be rewarded with a tantalizing and exciting sight: the gnarly vines of Lučica.

Lučica is one of winemaker Alen Bibic’s most interesting and unique vineyards. Here about 3,500 Debit vines – most of which are about 50 years old and were planted by Alen’s grandfather – struggle in the summer heat to each produce only a cluster or two of wine grapes, enough fruit for just 150-200 cases of wine a year.

This rare treat is fermented and aged in American oak barrels and the result is an intriguing white – almost orange – wine with a slightly tannic grip and lovely dried apricot, honey, and vanilla notes that finishes with a Sherry-like sea salt savoriness. A distinctive and delicious expression of Debit, one of Dalmatia’s many fascinating native grape varieties! 🙂

BIBICh Lučica vineyard (Copyright © Cliff Rames)
BIBICh Lučica vineyard (Copyright © Cliff Rames)