Lonely No More: Wines of Croatia Featured in New Travel Guide

With the 2013 summer travel season well underway, we thought we would take a moment to remind folks that the 7th edition of the Lonely Planet – Croatia guide book is now available and is packed with many new features, including a special section dedicated to Croatian wines written by sommelier and Wines of Croatia founder, Cliff Rames.

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The 300+ page Lonely Planet “survival guide” has been completely reviewed and updated with the latest insider advice, tips, reviews, maps and other useful information about best places to visit, stay, eat and drink across Croatia.  

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In an effort to present the most interesting and intriguing information, the authors of Lonely Planet – Croatia “have hunted down the fresh, the transformed, the hot and the happening” – including extensive coverage of the food and wine scene in Croatia, or what the authors refer to as “foodie-friendly Croatia”.

In that spirit Lonely Planet becomes the first mainstream travel guide to include comprehensive information about the wines of Croatia, as well as region-by-region advice on wineries to visit and recommendations for vino to sample.

Croatian wines get full treatment on page 303, and Slavonia receives a special shout-out on page 85. All together, over 25 wineries are mentioned, along with a number of recommended wines for each and contact information.

If you are looking for a single-source for awesome reviews of places to visit, stay or eat in Croatia, then pick up a copy of Lonely Planet – Croatia and sip on all its juicy information. Even if you are not planning to travel to Croatia just yet, reading this book will make you want to book your reservations – and winery visits – even sooner.  🙂

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Wines of Croatia News Round-Up for January 22, 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. Pacta Connect: Remember, Remember the Fifth of November (Part 2)

January 5, 2012

The team from Pacta Connect recalls a delightful day of mushrooms, Morgan Restaurant, & Cattunar winery during a visit to Istria, Croatia.

 

 

2. A Traveler’s Mind: Why Croatia? The Wine of Course

January 5, 2012

Vanessa Day answers the question: Why Croatia? “With its vast expanse of land, wide grape variety and ideal climate, Croatia has more than enough options for you to choose from when it comes to wine.”

 

3. Wines World: Croatia’s Wine Industry

January 11, 2012

 An interesting overview of Croatia’s wine industry by the wine, food & travel blog, Wines World.

 

 

4. By the Tun: BIBICh Winery – The Best Culinary Experience of My 5-Week Culinary Press Trip

January 11, 2012

Mattie John Bamman discovers that “BIBICh wine dances” and few wineries can create an wine & food experience as awesome as Alen and Vesna Bibic can. 


5. Wines of Croatia Blog: Two Croatian Wine Stories Published in New Book

January 12, 2012

A recently published book called “Every Wine Tells a Story” includes two stories about Croatian wines, one by Wines of Croatia founder Cliff Rames, and the second by U.K. wine importer Judith Burns of Pacta Connect.

 

6. Croatian Times: Croatian Wine Manufacturer to Take on China

January 12, 2012

Croatian wine and spirits producer Badel 1862, and Chinese Tadee Holding Group agree to joint venture that will bring Croatian alcoholic beverages to the Chinese market.

 

7. Fodors: 21 Places to Go in 2012

January 14, 2012

Fodor’s names Istria as one of “21 Places to Go in 2012”. “Istria is like a less-touristed, more affordable version of Tuscany. Think medieval hilltop villages, miles of vineyards, and restaurants serving incredible seafood and pizza and pasta dishes…”

 

 8. Taste of Croatia: Kozlovic – Wine Drinker’s Kindergarten and PhD School

January 15, 2012

An inside glimpse of the newly rebuilt and remarkable Kozlović winery in Momjan, Istria. 

 

9. Foodspring: The Future of Wine

January 15, 2012

Britain’s oldest wine and spirit merchants, Berry Brothers & Rudd, predicts that Croatia will be among the wine-producing countries that will feature more prominently in the future and recommends BIBICh as a producer to try. 

 

10. Digital Journal: Hvar Wines – Plavac Mali ‘Could Unite China and Russia’

January 16, 2012

A 1.5 million Euro deal with a Chinese businessman stands to benefit local wine growers on Hvar island in Croatia and could help to elevate the Plavac Mali grape variety further onto the world stage.

 

 11. Vinologue: Crvik Winery in Dalmatia’s Konavle

January 16, 2012

A short profile of the Konavle wine region of south Dalmatia and the wines of Crvik winery.

 

 12. Bravawine: Wine #8. On the 8th Night of Croatian Vino

January 18, 2012

Review of Matošević 2009 Grimalda Red.

 

 

13. The Drinks Business: Croatian Wine Looks to Crack Global Market

January 20, 2012

The rebirth of a country’s wine tradition is underway, led by wineries like Roxanich.

 

 

14. Wines of Croatia Blog: A Time for Pruning & Partying – The Feast of Saint Vincent

January 21, 2012

A short history of he Feast of Saint Vincent of Saragossa.  

 

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

 

Wines of Croatia News Round-Up for January 8, 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. Europe Up Close: Daytripping Dubrovnik’s Islands & Beaches

December 19, 2011

After hiking and bathing comes an evening of freshly-caught Adriatic fish, delicious delicacies, liters of local wine, live music, and lots of singing (and maybe even a little romance) for visitors to Croatia’s southern Adriatic coast.

 

 

2. Come for the Wine: Croatia Part 6- Istria, Truffles, Olive Oil, Wine

December 19, 2011

The latest Croatia installment in Marcy Gordon’s travel blog in which she discovers the treasures of Istria: truffles, olive oil, prosciutto & wine. And in which we hear that in Croatia, “It’s not just a wine, it’s a lifestyle.”

 

 

3. Wines of Croatia Blog: Ensemble Vacations Magazine Calls the Wines of Croatia “Worldly Delights”

December 21, 2011

Croatia wines receive recognition in Ensemble Vacations Magazine.

 

 

4. Blue Danube Wine Blog: Shucking Plavac

December 21, 2011

Breaking molds, defying convention, shucking old assumptions, and moving barriers: Croatian red wine with oysters? When it comes to Miloš Plavac Mali, the answer is yes!

 

 

5. BK Wine: 11 Wine Regions to Discover in 2012

December 21, 2011

BK Wine Magazine names Istria as one of its “11 wine regions to discover in 2012”.  

 

6. Europe Up Close: Eating the Adriatic

December 23, 2011

Europe Up Close concludes their visit to Croatia with a culinary journey through Zagreb, in which they discover Dolac Market, Portugizac young wine, “domaci cvarci”, the Museum of Broken Relationships, “strukli”, Klub Gastronomadi, and that Slavonian oak is from Croatia, not Slovenia.

 

 

7. Brava Wine: Wine 6 on the Sixth Day of Croatian Vino

December 26, 2011

An American sommelier living in Zagreb reviews Kutjevo Graševina 2009.

 

 

8. Secret Dalmatia: Christmas in Dalmatia

December 27, 2011

 Another beautiful report from Secret Dalmatia, where the writer enjoys Korlat Merlot, one  in an exciting (and award-winning) new lineup of wines from Vinarija Benkovac near Zadar.

 

9. PB Pulse – the Swirlies: The Swirl Girls Picks of the Year

December 27, 2011

The Swirl Girls published their “Picks of the Year” for 2011 (Hint: One is a Croatian wine!)

10. Wine Chap: Round-up-of Top Wines of 2011

December 27, 2011

“Any wine that can be quite so compelling after 48-hrs with no sleep…must be special”. Read on to find out which Croatian wine made Wine Chap’s list of “Top Wines of 2011”.

 

 

11. On the Road with Grape Guy: Report from Croatian Wine Dinner at Wildfire – November 3, 2011

December 30, 2011

Michael Pinkus, aka “ Grape Guy” – discovers the wines of Matosevic and Trapan at a Chicago “Meet the Winemakers” event.

 

12. Wines of Croatia Blog: A Happy New Year 2012 Message

December 31, 2011

Wines of Croatia founder Cliff Rames offers a New Year Wish and some thoughts for 2012.

 

 

13. Bloomberg News: Ancient Croatian Grapes Revive Wineries in Home of Zinfandel

January 3, 2012

Bloomberg News suggests Croatian wines as an alternative to Bordeaux and California cabs and highlights Matosevic Malvasia Istriana, Saints Hills Dingac, and Trapan Syrah as excellent choices.

 

14. The Economist: Dalmatia’s Troubled Waters?

January 3, 2012

The Economist’s “More Intelligent Life” magazine examines the impact on Croatia’s seafood culture as a result of pending European Union integration.

 

 

15. Digital Journal: Improving Croatian Wines to Bring New Dimension with EU Entry

January 3, 2012

Paul Bradbury reflects on the “exciting new options” Croatian wines bring to the European market.

 

16. National Post: John Szabo’s Vintages – Preview for January 7, 2012

January 3, 2012

Master Sommelier John Szabo puts Croatian wines on his discover radar for 2012.

 

 17. Wines of Croatia Blog: Annual Report – 2011 in Review

January 4, 2012

Statistics and other 2011 site data for the Wines of Croatia blog.

 

18. Wine Compass: Winechat Transcript Discussing Eastern European Wines

January 5, 2012

Transcript from January 4th’s Twitter #winechat that featured wines from Croatia, Hungary, and Serbia.

 

19. Blue Danube Wine Blog: Terzolo

January 6, 2012

“Soil so red it stains your hands, a native red variety with off the charts acidity, and a family dedicated to tradition with an eye for innovation”….Meet the Terzolo family of Istria and their delicious flagship wine, Teran.

 

20. Taste of Croatia: Korak Wines – Keepers of Plešivica Tradition

January 7, 2012

The crew from Taste of Croatia profile Korak winery in the Plešivica Hills of Croatia.

 

21. Wines of Croatia Blog: Hills Like Sleeping Dreams – Bucavac Vineyard, Croatia

January 7, 2012

Cliff Rames of Wines of Croatia takes us on a journey through the hills of Bucavac vineyard, home to Babić, Damatia’s second most important native red grape.

 

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

 

Hills Like Sleeping Dreams: Bucavac Vineyard, Croatia

Text and photos copyright 2012 Cliff Rames

In the hills just above a luxury marina filled with opulent yachts lies a natural wonder – one of those rare and mystical places where the transcendental forces of the planet converge to create a particular sweet spot for growing wine grapes.

Here the leaves of old vines radiate in the summer heat. White rocks cover the ground and reflect sunlight, shrouding the plants in a platnium aura. Climb up onto the slopes and all grows quiet; a seminal silence – the hushed ancient secrets of butterflies, cicadas and sun lizards. I imagine them taking cover under leaf and stone as the salty sea breeze flicks over the craggy landscape.

The vines – many hunched like old market women and gnarled by the forces of time – stand stoically and stooped, burdened by their dark bunches and surrendered to the pateince they know they must keep through the decades, the centuries….

But one cannot feel – while meandering on foot through this majestic place – anything but light in step, reverent in heart, and stimulated in mind and spirit. For this is Bucavac vineyard, an unassuming shrine to the local native red grape called Babić (for more about Babić, click HERE).

Bucavac is arguably one of the least known yet most renown vineyards in Croatia (taking a respectable place behind some of the more famous coastal vineyards such as Dingač and Postup).

Elsewhere in the Old World of wine growing regions, vineyards of this stature and power are often bestowed with titles such as Grand Cru or Premier Cru. These growing areas are treated as sacred places and stand as royal thrones to the nobility of the wines produced there. One wonders, if Bucavac were located in France, would it be considered among the great wine regions of the world?

In Croatia Bucavac is simply an umarked and often unnoticed hillside. Unpretentious and until recently nearly forgotten. Tourists in sleek cars pulling boat trailers or campers zoom by on the Jadranska magistrala (Adriatic Highway), oblivious to the quiet grandeur of the sacred garden just off in the distance with its knotted and wizened old vines.

While not ancient, Bucavac vineyard is legendary and remains a testament to human determination and endurance. It is the only vineyard site in Croatia that is on UNESCO’s World Heritage Tentative List as a protected site of “cultural and natural significance”.

To further heighten the historical mystique of this little vineyard and the Babić grape, an old aerial photograph of Bucavac was once displayed in the lobby of the United Nations building in New York City.

Lying about 20 minutes south of the coastal city of Šibenik, Bucavac occupies a sleepy hump of limestone hillside just two miles (3 km) south of the seaside resort town of Primošten. The landscape is a mixture of terra rossa soil, blue-grey scrub brush, shimmering green vines, and white limestone set to the backdrop of an aqua-bue Adriatic Sea. Looking at Bucavac from a distance, I am reminded of the fabulous title of an old Ernest Hemingway story, “Hills Like White Elephants”.

By far the distinguishing characteristic of Bucavac vineyard is the patchwork of stone walls and square plots of vines that criss-cross the slopes. Collectively these checkerboard plots comprise the approximately 18 hectares of Babić vines that is Bucavac vineyard. Many of the vines are over 40 years old.

The UNESCO website further describes Bucavac as lots “made up of red soil in which a few vines are planted while low dry stone heaps keep the soil together around them…. Local unpaved paths lead to the lots…. This originally rocky, inaccessibly terrain has been transformed through extreme human effort into agricultural land, namely, by its clearing in the traditional manner (manually) without the use of machines. The Bucavac site has remained a completely preserved surface as it was at the time it was first developed, maintaining the original morphology of cleared lots, traditional way of soil cultivation and agricultural function which have not changed in the entire area up to the present.”

The current configuration of vineyards at Bucavac was hon out of the stoney hillside in 1947, when the municipality of Primošten granted local residents 1,000-square meter plots of “bare and rocky terrain” in which to plant vineyards. “The clearing and reparation of soil and planting of wine grapes lasted ten years or so, and there were families who planted a few thousand vine plants of the Croatian indigenous sort Babić, which produces best quality wines precisely in the Primošten region”. (UNESCO)

Today Bucavac vineyard lies somewhat in limbo as its future is debated and its place in the world of wine remains to be seen. A project to restore the vineyard and replant the oldest and most unproductive vines is currently underway. However, limited government funding and pending European Union regulations prohibiting the planting of new vines have slowed progress and left the project without a clear mandate.

When I first visited Bucavac, I ventured up the top on the slopes on my own, thinking that at any moment someone would shout at me for trespassing – or that I would be arrested by the authorities. But nothing happened. I was left alone to stroll among the sleepy vines, lost in reverent thought, sampling nearly ripe berries along the way, digging my fingers into the soil, and turning over a bleached piece of limestone between my fingers. Touching the terroir, as they say….

It was a magical feeling. Alone among those historic vines, conversing with them, asking politely to taste their fruit, telling them that soon they shall become great wine. “Just a little longer”, I’d say. “Just be patient and give it your best.”

I promised those vines that someday the world would love them. Someday wine aficionados from all corners of the earth would taste the dark nectar of their souls: premium Babić wine! And they would be happy, laughing and singing, and toasting one another’s health.

After my last visit to Bucavac (when I eventually came down out of them hills), I made my way into Primošten. There I met Professor Leo Gracin, who is one of the leaders of the Bucavac restoration project. He happens to also be one of the few quality producers of commercially-available Babić wine in the region. His “Suha Punta” Babić remains as one of the best examples of this darkly colored, uniquely characteristic wine.

I found Dr. Gracin waiting for me at a small restaurant in the center of Primošten. On the table was an open bottle of his 2008 Babić and lunch. As I sipped and swirled the wine and ate heartily from the savory selection of pan-fried veal, braised chard and potatoes swimming in golden olive oil, and fresh crusty bread, I thought about the vines of Bucavac and my promise to them.

And here in my glass, so dark and brooding, was their gift to me. An inky elixir in which swirled all the flavors of Bucavac – the stones, the red soil, the olive trees, figs, sea salt, wild thyme and rosemary, the scratching song of the cicadas….For a moment I thought I could hear the wind – and the ancient secrets of all the life that over time made those hills home. Ghosts of the leathered faces and hands that once excavated the stones from the soil and stacked them into the immovable walls of Bucavac seemed to ascend on the wine’s bouquet, brushing my lips and cheeks.

Looking even deeper into the wine, I noticed that from its dark depths radiated a light. The light of grace. The light of love. The light of patience and hope….

Time suddenly slipped away. My body became spirit. My soul grew still. I understood…. Life is indeed transient. What is important is not what when take from it but what we leave behind for new generations to find.

At this juncture I am inclined to let Hemingway keep his wonderful “Hills Like White Elephants” metaphor. Bucavac deserves a metaphor of its own, something that captures its sense of timelessness, beauty – and tenuous future.

“Hills Like Sleeping Dreams”. Hmmm…perhaps.

And like a dream, it is in a somewhat suspended state of animation that Bucavac remains. Living proof of the continuity of life and triumph over hardship and uncertainty. I suspect that it will continue to uphold that tradition – at least I hope so.

With a glass of Babić in hand, I daydream about the time when I can wander those hills again. Feeling fully awake to their magic. Overcome by the mysterious power of the planet’s ability to generate such breathtaking beauty. Humbled and meek among the seminal stones of history.

Gracin winery

Wines of Croatia Blog Annual Report: 2011 in Review

Dear readers,

First, we begin 2012 with an fresh, clean new blog design. I hope you like it!

Also, I just wanted to thank everyone who visited the blog, commented, and shared our posts in 2011.  You guys rock!

In case you were wondering, we had over 42,000 views in 2011 – an average of 116 per day, and almost 70,000 (and growing) visits since our first post on December 21, 2009. Not sure how that stacks up in the BIG blog world, but I think it is pretty awesome! So THANK YOU again. And please help us to make 2012 an even better year by contributing ideas for the blog, commenting, and sharing our posts far and wide.

In the meantime, check out the full annual report courtesy of the WordPress.com stats helper monkeys. And enjoy the new blog design – and content – in 2012!

All the best,

Cliff

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 42,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 16 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Wines of Croatia News Round-Up: December 18, 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.

 

 

1. Wine Enthusiast Magazine: Best of the Year 2011

December 1, 2011 (retroactively included)

Wine Enthusiast magazine includes Croatia on its list of the “Best of Year 2011” under the 2011 Highlights in Travel, noting Croatia’s “rich winemaking traditions”.

 

 2. Pacta Connect: Two Gems Visit Two Gems of Istria

December 6, 2011 (retroactively included)

U.K. wine bloggers Denise Medrano and Niamh Shields discover the wines and food of Istria. 

 

 3. By the Tun: How to Read Croatian Wine Labels

December 13, 2011

Is that the name of the region? The grape? The producer? The protected geographical area? @ravenoustravelr gives us a brief lesson on the quirks of Croatian wine labels. 

 

 4. Meininger’s Wine Business International: Croatia Makes Headway

December 13, 2011

In-depth regional analysis of Croatia and its wine by Darrel Joseph in Meininger’s Wine Business International (via the Blue Danube Wine Company blog).

 

 

5. Total Hvar: Hvar Wine from a Hvar Character, Andro Tomic

December 14, 2011

Profile of Hvar winemaker and “Bon Viveur” Andro Tomic.

 

 6. Jancis Robinson: Croatia – Land of Opportunity

December 14, 2011

World renowned wine writer and expert, Jancis Robinson, calls Croatia the “land of opportunity”. (Note: you must be a Purple pages subscriber to access the full text).

7. Brava Wine Blog: Wine 3 – On the Third Day of Croatian Vino

December 14, 2011

An introduction to the newest wine from Roxanich, 2008 Ines u Bijelom – a skin macerated field blend of Istrian-grown white grapes.

 

8. Taste of Croatia: Best of Croatian Wines Under 60 KN

December 15, 2011

A few suggestions from the Taste of Croatia team for budget-friendly Croatian wines to try this Christmas with family & friends.

 

 9. Wines of Croatia Blog: A Very Donkey Christmas – Vinarija Dingac 2005 Postup

December 17, 2011

Sharing a little holiday cheer, inspired by our friend the Donkey.

 

 

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