Wine-o-graph: Prošek and Prosecco made simple

By Cliff Rames © 2013

Not that it’s a very complex issue. It’s not really. It’s fairly straightforward. But decide for yourself, if you haven’t already. And if you want to learn more, check out my previous post called Are You Pro Prošek? 12 Reasons Why You Should Be.

And for those of you who are (like me) short on time and attention, I have compiled this handy, easy-to-reference and share “Wine-o-graph” chart.

Cut and diced like this, it seems clearer than ever that Prošek and Prosecco are distinctly different products. No one has anything to fear from them being allowed to peacefully co-exist in the European Union or elsewhere.

So feel free to print it out, put it in your wallet, hang it on the wall, share it with a friend, or shout it from the mountaintops. In the meantime, I wish Croatia and its Prošek producers all the best in their efforts to save Prošek and continue its legacy as the traditional dessert wine of Croatia.

prošek-viganj

  Prošek vs. Prosecco – At a Glance
  Prošek Prosecco
History First written mention: 1556 First written mention: 1754
Pronunciation “Pro-shek” “Proh-sec-coh”
Grapes Varieties White: bogdanuša, dubrovačka malvasija, grk, malvazija istarska, maraština, plavac mali, prč (aka parč), pošip, tarpinka, trbljan, vugava, žlahtina. Red: babić, lasina, plavina, plavac mali.    Glera; sometimes bianchetta, charnonnay, perera, pinot noir, verdiso 
Area of Production The Adriatic coast and the islands of Dalmatia, Croatia Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Conegliano, and Valdobbiadene regions in northeast Italy
Number of Registered Producers 27 Over 3,000
Production Amounts 15,000 liters, or 30,000 bottles of 500 ml; most wineries produce less than 5,000 bottles each 225,000,000 liters, or 300 million 750 ml bottles
Winemaking Passito method. Hand harvested, sun dried grapes; 2-5 days skin maceration; fermentation lasting up to a year or more; mandatory 1 year of aging in wood Charmat method; secondary fermentation in autoclaves; bottling under pressure; no wood aging. 
Wine Style Still. Sweet with high residual sugar levels (70-150 g/l) Sparkling. Dry to semi-sweet with residual sugar levels ranging from 0 – 35 g/l
Color Dark golden, amber, neon orange, maple syrup, dark brown Straw to medium yellow
Commercial Bottle Shape 375-500 ml bottles of various shapes 750 ml sparkling wine bottle with mushroon cork and metal cage
Serving Glass Dessert wine glass Champagne flute
Availability on Export Markets Nearly non-existent; very limited distribution in export markets Widespread. In U.S.: 19.2 million bottles imported in 2012
Price $50 for 500 ml $10-$20 for 750 ml

Wines of Croatia News Round-Up for February 19, 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. Wines of Croatia Blog: Valentine’s Day with the Donkey, the Poet & the Saint

February 7, 2012

Wine reviews: Celebrating Valentine’s Day with Vinarija Dingač 2006 Dingač, Miloš 2006 Plavac, and Saints Hills 2008 Dingač.

 

 2. Brava Wine Blog: En Primeur Malvazija 2011 Tasting in Zagreb

February 13, 2012

Sommelier April Amys Torzewski shares her highlights from the Vinistra En Primeur 2011 Malvasia Istriana tasting in Zagreb and reserves a special place on her palate for the wines of Ivan Damjanić.

 

3. Vinologue: Milicic Wines with Video

February 13, 2012

A visit to Miličić winery on the Pelješac, courtesy of Vinologue and an interesting video blog by Percy Von Lipinski. 

 

 

4. Lajf2012 Blog: Zlatan Plavac Grand Cru Croatia

February 14, 2012

One lucky person spent Valentine’s Day with a bottle of Zlatan Plavac 2002 Grand Cru – and discovered what the nectar of the gods tastes like.

 

 5. News Press.com: Zinfandel Evolution Retraced

February 14, 2012

A brief history of the California-Croatia zinfandel connection.  

 

 

6. Wines of Croatia Blog: Vinistra Celebrates a Successful First En Primeur Tasting of Malvasia

February 16, 2012

 A short report from the February 13,2012 “en primeur” tasting of 2011 malvasia istriana in Zagreb.

 

 

7. Vintage Wine Picks Blog: Belje Grasevina 2009

February 18, 2012

 A tasty review of Belje 2009 Graševina by Vintage Wine Picks in Toronto, Canada.

 

 

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

 

2012 Reader’s Survey: Wines of Croatia Blog

 

Dear friends,

In order to provide you with the chance to share your opinions, thoughts, concerns, ideas and suggestions about the Wines of Croatia blog, we’ve put together a very quick, easy and anonymous survey for you to complete.

(Screen shot. Clink on link below to go to Survey)

If you have the time, please take a moment to complete it. There are only 10 questions, and it should not take you more than a few minutes to finish. Your feedback is very important and will help guide the development and direction of the blog as we go forward.

The survey will be open until February 6, 2012.  Below is the direct link to the survey. Happy clicking – and THANK YOU for your time!

Sincerely, Cliff

GO TO SURVEY NOW!

Two Croatian Wine Stories Published in New Book

“In a recent column in Wine Spectator magazine, Matt Kramer mentioned a fabulous quote from the novelist Henry James: ‘There are two kinds of taste, the taste for emotions of surprise and the taste for emotions of recognition’. This story captures the taste of surprise perfectly.”

Dakovo cathedral

So begins the enlightening tale of drinking Ðakovačka Biskupija 1987 Trnavački Traminac Arhivsko Misno Vino, as recounted by sommelier and founder of Wines of Croatia, Cliff Rames, in the new book “Every Wine Tells a Story”.

Every Wine Tells a Story is a compilation of 39 stories – including two about Croatian wines – written by a number of notable international wine professionals and experts, including Steven Spurrier of Decanter Magazine; Joe Roberts, aka 1 Wine Dude; and Paul Kienan of Grapes of Sloth. The 131-page book was published in November 2011 and was edited by Tara Devon O’Leary, aka the Wine Passionista.

To check out the full list of contributors, click HERE.

Another passionate voice among Croatian wine lovers who contributed the second story in the book is Judith Burns, wine importer and founding partner of Pacta Connect, a U.K.-based import company specializing in Croatian wines. Her story celebrates her experience tasting Clai 2009 Brombonero, a 100% Refošk wine from the Istria region of Croatia that Judith refers to as the “Johnny Depp” of wines and a “truly special” offering.

Giorgio Clai

“In every wine-growing country there is usually one producer whose ‘hallowed’ name you hear above all. In Croatia, that producer is Giorgio Clai,” writes Judith.

To read the rest of Judith’s and Cliff’s Croatian wine stories, as well as the other 37 interesting and touching wine tales, please follow this LINK to purchase your copy of this keepsake book.

And to tease you a little further, check out this promo video for the book. Happy reading!

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.