Zagreb Wine Gourmet Weekend Day III
In many cultures, Sunday is a day of rest. For the attendees, exhibitors, and staff at the Zagreb Wine Gourmet Weekend, after Days I & II it was indeed this, as well as a day of penance. Most everyone was off to a pretty bumpy morning given that all of the largest parties happened Saturday night. Even the two guys handing out glasses looked like they’d been dancing in traffic until the sun came up.
There were those of us who called it an early night at 01:00 after going to the smashing tasting at Apetit of Piquentum’s wines that was put on by Brava Wine with some additional, deliciously-obscure wines (like Žlatina from Krš in Herzegovina) pulled out of nowhere by Blue Danube Wine. The advantage in attending this small, intimate affair was that it allowed one to be fresh in the morning and head in to this last day of the wine fair in a rather uncrowded fashion.
First was spending a good deal of time with all of the Matošević wines. It went to show that yes, they are indeed still solid and their new Grimalda line is proving to be an interesting one, despite the fact that the cuvée is a rather foreign way to make wine in Croatia where they prefer single varietals. Their acacia aged wines are really special and unique. If you get a chance to taste them, do it.
It’s much the same for Batič who was next door to Matošević. We had tasted most of his wines about a year ago in San Francisco. They were great then, but Miha tossed a stick of dynamite in to his car on the drive over from Slovenia which is his Angel Grand Cuvée. Holy crap that’s delicious. It’s a wine that they’ve only made three times in the last 20 years as conditions need to be ideal for it and I can see why. This Bordeaux-style blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon is something really special. Saying that it’s outstandingly well-structured, round, smooth, deep, and any other number of superlatives doesn’t do it justice. Even though it’s an expensive bottle for the region at ~32€, if found, buy.
Going through a tasting of Bura-Mrgudić was full of good things. Obviously, the biggest one being the Bura, from which they were pouring the 2009 vintage. Delicious and an even better wine than the 2008. The Postup was also an enjoyable first taste and it was nice to see where their entry-level Galeria is going. The big surprise was to come across the Zinfandel that they’ve just started bottling at the behest of Robert Benmosche. It comes from a new vineyard planted up from Orebić that they’re calling Diamond Hill. It is overall a bit fruit forward at the moment. The vines need to get a bit older and this particular vintage could spend a bit more time in the bottle, but it definitely shows a great deal of promise for these vines planted where there had been none for over 100 years.
And then there was Buhač. Based in Ilok, Slavonia, they are making some wines that really blew my mind. The Graševina, Chardonnay, and Traminac were all excellent examples of these wines from this region. The Chardonnay, which was made from an early and late harvest was especially deep, but with a lovely, light acidity running through it. Their Cabernet Sauvignon was good and shows a great deal of promise, but it needs probably another month or two of bottle acclimation to be fully appreciated. The Merlot however was fantastic. With a shortbread nose that I’ve only found in a Merlot from Konavle (in south Dalmatia) before, it has these wonderfully downplayed dark fruits that are balanced with light tannins. It would be great by itself or great with meals. Many, many people were talking about this wine after tasting it.
Lastly, there were the foods. While overshadowed a great deal by the wines presentation, there was a solid offer of the meats, cheeses, chocolates, sweets, and fruit wines that people sometimes miss in Croatia, but are really top notch. If you didn’t stop in to sample some Paški sir and kulen, shame on you. If you did, but didn’t pick up any to eat at home, you will have a rather sad plate in your future, which will rightfully mock you.
And that’s it, another installment of Croatian wines and food has come to a close. Time for everyone to dry out a little and head back to their little piece of this crescent-shaped, delicious country.
Ancestral Wine Cellar - Khikhvi 2014 95
First harvest of Khikhvi. Light apricot notes, peach skin, lemon peel. Citric in the mouth, fresh, lively acidity, vibrant. Very holistic, full and deliciously good.
100% Khikhvi · 12% · 30GEL
Petriaant Marani - Khikhvi 2015 94
Bruised red apple, touch of lemon peel, limestone minerality, and some white pepper notes at the back of it. High acidity and full in the mouth. Luscious, involving, elegant wine.
100% Khikhvi · 14% · 25GEL
Domaine Augustin - Adéodat Blanc 2016 93
Lemon and white peach, strong kick of salinity, and toasted notes. Very fleshy and full on the palate, peach notes more prominent as well as Meyer lemon, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish.
100% Grenache Gris · 14.5% · 20EUR
AA Badenhorst - Secateurs Red Blend 2012 93
Forest bramble with ripe red fruit, touches of cherry, ripe red plum, tiny bit of prune, cumin, anise, black licorice, wet cement mineral note, underlying fig jam. Crisp medium plus acidity, medium tannins, medium plus length, medium alcohol, overall medium plus body that’s ripe and lively but super fresh and balanced at the same time. Bit of rugged wildness to it but doesn’t get out of hand. Easy to drink but with just enough underlying complexity so that it stays interesting.
56% Syrah 27% Cinsaut 6% Grenache 4% Cabernet Sauvignon 7% "Others" · 13.5% · 12EUR
Domaine Treloar - Motus 2015 93
Dark ruby, minor rim. Big, mighty bouquet of red cherry and other brambly forest fruit, vanilla, almond blossom, orange peel, and cocoa. Rich and full on the palate with a wealth of tannins still integrating, leading into a crunchy, lingering finish.
80% Mourvèdre 10% Syrah 10% Grenache · 14% · 14EUR
Domaine of the Bee - Cuvée 2015 93
Ruby with minor garnet rim. Rich red fruits with an underpinning of ripe plum, orange peel, licorice, cocoa. Broad, round tannins with a touch of toast and sweet cocoa in a long finish. Manages to stay very light on the palate despite the higher alcohol.
50% Grenache 50% Carignan · 15% · 25EUR
Tchotiashvili - Khikhvi 2014 93
Apricot, yellow peach, orange peel, and a touch of honey. Quite complex aromatically. Orchard fruit much more prevalent in the mouth with young apricot notes. Rich and elegant, touch of astringency in the finish.
100% Khikhvi · 13.1% · 28GEL
Domaine Augustin - Adéodat Rouge 2015 92
Medium ruby. Fresh red cherry, raspberry, and young strawberry, lifted and breathy, saline tinge along with light stoniness and rosemary and garrigue. Fresh red fruit on the palate, medium acidity but still light on the palate, fresh, and while the alcohol sticks out a little, holds and excellent, long finish.
Grenache Carignan Mourvèdre · 14.5% · 20EUR
Domaine Fontanel - Prieuré 2014 92
Dense ruby with brick flecks. Crisp red fruits, lifted by a waft of volatility making for a light nose with a spicy licorice and leather component. Crisp and lively with red cherry fruit in the mouth and a nudge over medium acidity. Nice, lingering finish.
50% Syrah 25% Grenache 25% Mourvèdre · 14.5%
Cave Abbé Rous - Cornet & Cie Blanc 2016 92
Peach, orange peel & blossom, honey, dried apricot, and a hint of green apple. Very nicely balance in the mouth, green apple notes more prevalent, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish. Fresh, lively, very pleasing wine to drink.
60% Grenache Gris 25% Grenache Blanc 5% Marsanne 5% Roussanne 5% Vermentino · 14.5%