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

Lunch at Korak Winery in the Rolling Hills of Plešivica – in Pictures

Korak vineyards, Plešivica

(All photos ©2012 Cliff Rames)

Last month, two editors from Wine Enthusiast magazine, Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen (aka the World Wine Guys), visited Croatia to receive the Golden Pen Award from the Croatian National Tourism Board for their article called “Croatia – In Living Color”, which was published in the September 2011 issue of Wine Enthusiast.

After receiving the Golden Pen Award (“Zlatna Penkala”), the Wine Guys toured a selection of wineries, vineyards, hotels, restaurants and other sites in the continental region of Croatia.

The Wine Guys were escorted by Cliff Rames, sommelier and founder of Wines of Croatia, who along the way captured a few snapshots of their journey. We will be sharing an assortment of Cliff’s photos with you over the next few weeks, starting with this collection of shots from Korak winery in the Plešivica wine-growing hills – a cool, hilly region about 30 minutes west of Croatia’s capital city, Zagreb.

Korak is best known for his chardonnay and pinot noir wines – considered some of the best in Croatia. You can read more about Korak HERE and HERE.  Over lunch we also sampled the wines of Drago Režek, who fashions lovely Rizvanac (müller-thurgau) and Zeleni Silvanac (sylvaner) from grapes grown in his Plešivica vineyards.

A huge thank you to Velimir Korak, his wife, and son, Josip, and visiting winemaker, Damir Režek, for an amazing day and their wonderful hospitality!!

Korak winery, Plešivica
Lunch among the vines, Plešivica
Korak vineyards, Plešivica
Flowering chardonnay, Plešivica
rose sentinels
Režek Rizvanac
Host winemakers, Velimir Korak (standing); Damir Režek (sitting)
Režek Zeleni Silvanac
Jeff Jenssen (l); Damir Režek; Velimir Korak
Korak 2009 Rizling (riesling)
Lunch is served!

Damir Režek and his lovely Chardonnay sur lie.
One of the best Croatian chardonnays: Korak sur lie.
Dessert! Apple strudel with Korak 2007 Rizling Izborna Berba (Riesling T.A.)

a last view before a nap, Plešivica
Cliff Rames; Mike DeSimone; Velimir Korak; Jeff Jenssen

Perfect Food & Wine Pairings in Dalmatia, Croatia

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(Original content by Cliff Rames; competition results translated & adapted by Cliff Rames from the report by Dalmacija Wine Expo. Original report can be viewed at: http://www.dalmacijawineexpo.com/novosti/perfect_matsch/)

Now for something short and sweet!

One of the more interesting events at the recent Dalmacija Wine Expo, held May 13-15, 2010 in the seaside resort town of Makarska, Croatia, was the “Perfect Match” wine and food pairing competition.

photo courtesy of Dalmacija Wine Expo

Some of the most experienced chefs from some of Croatia’s best restaurants in Dalmatia joined together to prepare a selection of traditional gastronomic delights that are representative of Croatia’s seaside cuisine.

photo courtesy of Dalmacija Wine Expo

These dishes were then paired with various wines from the different wine regions of Croatia. Then a panel of 30 judges, which included chefs and journalists, rated the pairings and chose the top 5 perfect matches.

photo courtesy of Dalmacija Wine Expo

Below are the results of the match up, one in each of five wine-style categories. Most interestingly is the fact that one winning “perfect match” (#1) was a pairing between a traditional coastal seafood dish and a wine from the continental (inland) region of Croatia. Another winning match was a wine made from an international variety and not an indigenous grape, paired with a domestic specialty from the Dalmatia region.

photo by Cliff Rames

As they say, sometimes the best marriage is one of opposites!

1. In the category of fresh, young, light-bodied wines, the winner is:

Cmrečnjak Silvanac Zeleni ’09 (Sylvaner) paired with cuttlefish salad with an emulsion of olive oil and citrus.  (Runners-up in this category included Grabovac 2009 Kujundžuša & Štampar 2009 Sauvignon Blanc.) 

photo courtesy of http://www.coolinarika.com

2. In the category of fresh yet mature, full-bodied wines, the winner is:

Kunjas Pošip ’08 paired with marinated Bonito fish with roasted pine nuts, shallots & raisins.  (The runner-up in this category was Grk Pillos Bire 2008.)

  
 
 
 
 

photo courtesy of http://www.coolinarika.com

3. In the category of mature, full-bodied white wine & rosé, the winner is:

Grabovac 2008 Chardonnay sur lie Grand Reserva paired with homemade pasta tossed with shrimp and asparagus. (The runner-up in this category was Krauthaker 2008 Chardonnay Rosenberg.)

Photo © Flickr user Allerina and Glen MacLarty

4. In the category of mature yet soft red wines with predominately fruity character, the winner is:

Kunjas 2008 Pagadebit paired with lamb, fava beans and peas. (Runners-up in this category included Crvik Canavia 2008 Merlot; Festigia 2008 Merlot; & Plavac P.Z. Kuna 2008.)

   
 

photo courtesy of http://www.coolinarika.com

5. In the category of mature, full-bodied red wine, the unanimous winner is:

photo by Cliff Rames

Saints Hills Winery 2008 Dingač (Plavac Mali) paired with veal cheeks a’la pašticada (a traditional piquant sauce made with tomatoes, red wine, Prošek, Mediterranean herbs and spices). 

photo courtesy of http://www.coolinarika.com

Now imagine we are by the Adriatic Sea in an outdoor café filled with friends and lovers; a full moon is shining; the evening breezes are cooling our sun-warmed skin; live Klapa music is playing (it’s ok to sing along!); and all of the food and wine mentioned above is spread out before us on the table….Perfect indeed!

photo courtesy of http://www.digitaljournal.com

I hope to see you there….

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