Wines of Croatia News Round-Up for March 18, 2012

In case you missed anything, here is a round-up of the latest links to the news articles, blog posts and videos that highlighted Croatia, its wine or wine culture.

1. The Image Pantry.com: On Green Lycra, German Riesling and Other Fashion Victims

March 4, 2012

A review of Bolfan Primus Riesling, included in the Image Pantry’s round-up of “some of the best rieslings central Europe has to offer”. 

2. Grape Experiences: Wine Blogs I Actually Read and You Should Too

March 5, 2012

The Wines of Croatia blog makes the Grape Experiences list of five wine blogs that should be followed.

3. Istria Travel.com: Baptising Wine Among Other Things

March 5, 2012

The Clumsy Traveler learns about colorful local traditions in Istrian wine country.  

4. Total Hvar.com: Where is the Largest Island Vineyard in the Mediterranean?

March 6, 2012

A report about the new Plančić vineyard on Hvar that will eventually produce 2 million bottles of Plavac Mali and Bogdanuša.

5. The Croatian Times.com: Croatian Wines Appreciation Growing on German and UK Markets

March 7, 2012

New data about Croatia wine exports to Europe.

6. Gourmand Awards News: World Cookbook Awards Winners

March 7, 2012

Croatia’s premier food & wine magazine, Iće & piće (“Eat & Drink”) wins Third Place in the “Book & Trade Magazine” category (Page 81 on the slide show) at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.

7. Thirst for Wine: Tonight’s Croatian Wine – Thanks to Mountain Valley Wines

March 8, 2012

U.K. wine writer, Robert McIntosh, reviews Pelješac Plavac Mali 2010.

8. The Daily Meal.com: Wine Tasting in Croatia

March 9, 2012

A hop across Croatia to visit some of its wineries on “the road less traveled in Europe”.  

9. IWINETC.com: All Aboard the Orient Express to Zagreb’s Regent-Esplanade for IWINETC 2013

March 10, 2012

Wine Pleasures.com announces that the 5th edition of the International Wine Tourism Conference and Workshop will be held in Zagreb, Croatia in March 2013.

10. Pacta Connect Blog: Tasting Istrian Malvazija

March 12, 2012

As the season of Malvasia Istriana (Malvazija istarska) begins, the team from Pacta Connect provides this primer about Istria’s flagship wine and recommends a few producers for your drinking pleasure.  

11. Total Hvar.com: 21st Century Planting Planting Planting

March 12, 2012

A report about Hvar winemaker Andro Tomić’s Bastijana vineyards expansion project.

12. Istriaficionado.com: Giorgio Clai of Istria Nominated as Wine-Newcomer of the Year by Der Feinschmecker

March 12, 2012

A report about Istrian biodynamic winemaker Giorgio Clai being nominated by German lifestyle magazine Der Feinschmeker as “Newcomer of the Year” in the Wine Awards 2012 competition.

13. Wines of Croatia Blog: Blood from Stone: Stina Wine from Brač – Best New Label Design

March 16, 2012

This new wine label design from JAKO VINO Winery really caught our eye. Find out why.

14. Balkan Travellers.com: Croatian Wine for Beginners

March 18, 2012

A repackaged and republished introduction to Croatian wines by Austrian wine writer, Peter Moser.

P.S. We love to hear from you!

If you have comments or other news to share, please comment on this post or email us at info@winesofcroatia.com

 

Images from the Wine Roads of Croatia #9 – Meneghetti “Stancija”

“Field of Dreams”

Meneghetti estate vineyards, Bale, Western Istria wine-growing hills, Istria sub-region, Coastal Croatia.

Located in the Istrian hinterland, 2 km away from the Adriatic Sea and 20 km from Pula, Meneghetti winery and estate grows the indigenous malvasia istriana grape, as chardonnay, pinot blanc, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot and refosco.

Wines produced by Meneghetti include:

~Meneghetti White (blend of chardonnay & pinot blanc)

~Malvazija (malvasia istriana)

~Meneghetti Red (blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon & cabernet franc)

~Merlot

~Meneghetti Sparkling (blend of chardonnay & pinot blanc)

Meneghetti also operates a lovely “stancija” – a beautifully restored country guest house where visitors can enjoy the Good Life – Istria style – while dining on locally-inspired culinary creations skillfully prepared by head chef Jean-Yves Messmere and drizzled with Meneghetti’s own extra virgin olive oil.

Or you can simply loiter on the veranda, listen to the summer cicadas, breathe in the fragrant aromas of Mediterranean herbs, and slowly sip a cool glass of Meneghetti sparkling wine whilst gazing across the vineyards as they peacefully soak up the warm Istrian sun.  🙂

Bonus photo!

“Under the Istrian Sun”

Text & photos © 2012 Cliff Rames

Matošević’s Magical, Mystical Tour of the James Beard House

 

By Cliff Rames

“The food is just so scrumptious, which is why I usually come here,” said a smartly-dressed woman to her companion just outside the nicely-appointed yet easily-to-miss building on W. 12th Street in New York City.

“As for wine…I don’t know much. Croatian wines? Oh, I don’t know anything about them.” She paused a moment, skeptical but searching for reinforcements. “I heard they are fruity. But let’s see….”

With those words I followed them through the door into the warmly-lit hall of one of the most sacred monuments to fine dining – a shrine to every serious Foodie: the James Beard House. Inside, Croatian winemaker Ivica Matošević was about to be honored.

(photo by Ivica Matosevic)
(Photo courtesy of Soledad Bleu Etoile)

“Mystical Malvazija” was the name given to the October 14, 2011 dinner event that paid homage to Mr. Matošević and his success and skill as one of Croatia’s leading producers of Malvazija Istarska, or Malvasia Istriana. Malvazija is the principle indigenous white grape variety in the Istria region of north coastal Croatia.

It was my first-time ever inside the James Beard Foundation, whose mission is “to celebrate, nurture, and preserve America’s diverse culinary heritage and future.”

Needless to say, I was very excited to experience what it would be like to dine in this acclaimed restaurant and be part of an historic occasion: the first-ever presentation of Croatian wines at the James Beard House.

The fact that all 76 seats at the dinner sold-out was no surprise. What I found even more curious was the diverse array of guests in attendance. This was not the same crowd I typically run into at food and wine events. I recognized almost no one. Most guests had purchased tickets based on the merit of the Foundation’s reputation and had come to dine on fine food and – along the way – to discover Croatian wine.

This posed somewhat of a challenge to Mr. Matošević: It would be his job to introduce everyone to Croatian wines, to the wines of the Istria region, and to the Malvazija grape. More importantly, he needed to impress them and win them over.

(Photo by Cliff Rames)

The evening began in the downstairs reception area with hors d’oeuvre: Foie Gras Pâté with Apples on Brioche; Duck Cracklings with Sunchoke Velouté and Sage, Uni, Lardo, and Soybeans on Focaccia; Fried Oysters with Lemon Aïoli, Caviar, and Dill; Roasted Pumpkin, Camembert, and Rosemary on Sourdough Crostini. To quench the thirst of the arriving guests and wash down the finger foods was the Matošević 2009 Alba Malvazija, a fresh, clean and highly-quaffable wine with discreet floral, citrus and almonds notes.

After the reception, we moved to the upstairs dining room. There, after the formal welcome and introductions, Mr. Matošević addressed the guests and spoke of the diverse influences that have over the years shaped the Istria region and Croatia’s food and wine culture.

“My grandfather was born in Austria”, he explained with a coy smile. “My father was born in Italy. I was born in Yugoslavia, and my son was born in Croatia. And in all this time, we never left our house!”

(Photo by Cliff Rames)

The room burst into laughter at his allusion to the historical changes that Croatia experienced over many generations. As I figured, Ivica Matošević had no trouble winning over the crowd. Not only does he make great wine, he is smart, intense, yet very charming. He also happens to speak English pretty well. After a few words and personal visits to each table, the ice was broken.

(Photo by Cliff Rames)

(Photo by Cliff Rames)

Dinner was stunning. The 5-course menu, prepared by Chef Gregory Elliott of Lockwood Restaurant & Bar at the Palmer House Hilton/Chicago, began with Hamachi Crudo with Asian Pear, Pickled Cauliflower, and Fresno Chili, paired with Matošević Alba Robinia Malvasia 2006, a spicy and smooth Malvazija that was aged for 12 months in acacia wood barrels.

For the second course we were treated to Olive Oil–Poached Chatham Day Boat Cod with Linguiça Sausage, Smoked Fingerling Potatoes, Cavolo Nero, and Clam Vinaigrette. The cod, potatoes and cavolo nero (aka black leaf kale) worked wonderfully with the Matošević Alba Barrique Malvasia 2009. However, the spiciness of the Linguiça overwhelmed the wine.

The third course featured Becker Lane Organic Farm Pork Roulade with Autumn Heirloom Squash, Porcinis, and Cranberry Beans. The zippy crispness of the Matošević Grimalda White 2008 (a blend of Malvazija, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc) cut through the autumn flavors of this dish and cleansed the palate in preparation for each succulent bite.

Hamachi Crudo (Photo by Cliff Rames)
Cod with Linguiça Sausage (photo by Cliff Rames)
Pork Roulade (photo by Cliff Rames)

The Cervena Venison Loin with Celery Root, Concord Grapes, and Thyme, paired with Matošević Grimalda 2008 Red, was an interesting, strongly-flavored dish that the red Grimalda (a blend of Merlot and Teran) stood up to and complimented. The only distraction was the Concord grape reduction, which was a little too grapey, sweet and fruity for the wine.

Mr. Matošević threw in an extra, “surprise” wine with this course: the Matošević Alba 2008 Antica Malvasia, a skin-macerated, French oak and acacia-aged (30 months) delight. Honestly, I don’t know how well the Antica paired with the venison course. This wine was so exquisite that I enjoyed it simply by itself, in deep contemplation and revelry. Well done, sir!

Dessert was almost too pretty to eat: Canalés de Bordeaux with Black Mission Figs and Port Wine paired with Matošević 2000 Alba Divina. Divina is a sweet Malvazija that Matošević produces by hanging late-harvested Malvazija grapes hung to dry on lines of rope tied to the rafters in his winery’s attic. The grapes for the 2000 Divina spent 6 months (from September till March) drying before being pressed and fermented.

Canalés (photo by Cliff Rames)
Divina (photo by Cliff Rames)

While the richness of the canales and wine were occasionally a bit overwhelming, it didn’t stop me from eating every bite. This was magical and not to be missed.

After dinner there was a brief ceremony in which representatives of the James Beard Foundation presented Chef Elliott and Mr. Matošević with a certificate to acknowledge their participation in the event. Chef Elliott then spoke of his motivation behind the event and how he first tasted Matošević wines, thanks to Lockwood’s general manager, Sasa Sinanagic.

(photo by Cliff Rames)
Ivica Matosevic, Chef Gregory Elliott, Sasa Sinanagic (photo by Cliff Rames)

Mr. Matošević also took a moment to thank Mr. Sinanagic and the extraordinary work he undertook to introduce Chef Elliott to the wines, plan the menu, and organize and execute the James Beard event. Seeing Mr. Sinanagic in action in New York, it is clear that the Lockwood restaurant is in very capable hands.

Later in the kitchen as the guests were leaving, I had a moment to chat with Chef Elliott. I asked why he chose Matošević wines to showcase his cuisine at the James Beard House.

“These wines are not fussy,” he answered. “They are very food friendly and delicious. For this reason, these wines make it very easy for a chef to pair with a menu.”

My overstuffed belly could not agree more.

(photo by Cliff Rames)
(photo by Cliff Rames)

(For more photos, please see our Facebook page.)

Wines of Croatia News Round-Up: 10 Oct. – 16 Oct. 2011

Compiled by Cliff Rames, 16 October 2011

In case you missed anything, here is a round-up of the past week’s links to the news articles, blog posts and videos that highlighted Croatia, its wine or wine culture. This feature will be published every Sunday. Cheers!

 

1) Chicago Tribune: Istria is Italy without the Price

October 7, 2011 (retroactively included)

 

 

2) Hello Magazine: Autumn is Truffle-Time in Istria

October 10, 2011

 

 

3) Like Wine Now: Bottoms Up! Top 3 Croatian Wines – Venje, Bibich, Matosevic

October 11, 2011

                               

 

4) Taste of Croatia: Korcula Scenic Vineyard Drive

October 12,2011

 

 

5) Wines of Croatia: Oz Clarke, James Beard House, and “Mystical Malvazija”

October 13, 2011

 

6) SGV Tribune: Legendary Winemaker Has World-Wide Impact

October 13, 2011

 

7) NZ Herald: Wine – Balkan Beginnings

October14, 2011

 

 

8. Vinologue: Bakovic on Brac

October 14, 2011

 

 

9) Odd Bacchus: A White Delight from Istria

October 15, 2011

 

 

P.S. We love to hear from you!

If you have comments or other news to share, please comment on this post or email us at info@winesofcroatia.com