Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Wines of Germany and Eastern Europe class: Croatia, Slovenia and Romania

The last session of Derrick' s Wines of Germany and Eastern Europe class, gave us the rare opportunity to taste wines from Croatia, Slovenia, and Romania, three countries with ancient wine growing traditions, yet very little known in the United States.

Vineyards in Slovenia


Like the rest of Central Europe, Croatia has a long tradition of grape cultivation and winemaking that started well before the Romans. The country has two major wine growing areas: the Continental region and the Coastal region. The Continental region has a continental climate and produces mostly white wines. Grasevina, also known as Welschriesling in Austria, is the most widely planted variety in the area. The Coastal region runs along the Adriatic coast and enjoys a temperate Mediterranean climate. The region produces both white and red wines from many indigenous varieties as well as imported Bordeaux varieties.

The wines we tasted:

• 2003 Daruvar Grasevina: The Daruvar Winery is one of the most modern wineries in Croatia. It has its own vineyards and a modern wine cellar and bottling plant. The wine comes from a traditional wine growing district in Croatia's continental region. It is made of Grasevina, the most planted white grape variety in Croatia. Grasevina is also called Welschriesling in Austria and Germany, Riesling Italico in Italy, Olasz rizling in Hungary, Laski rizling in Slovenia, and Vlassky rizling in Czech republic. When yields are moderate, it produces a style of wine that is floral and zesty with a pleasant bitter aftertaste. My notes: straw color, nose of cherry stone, nutty and citrusy on the palate with a tangy acidity. Tastes better than it smells.

• 2005 Kozlovic Malvazija Istria: The Kozlovic family founded the Kozlovic Estate four generations ago. The winery is located in the Istria peninsula, the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea. Sometimes described as the New Tuscany, Istria's wine country is made of lush valleys surrounded by olive groves and steep hillsides terraced for vineyards. On the coast, picturesque seaside towns have preserved their Venetian colonial character. Malvazija or Malvasia Istriana, a white grape clone from the Malvasia family, is the most widely planted white grape in Istria. My notes: fragrant and floral nose, nice acidity on the palate with dried herbs and spicy flavors. Quite a distinctive wine.

• 2004 Dingac Plavac Peljesac Peninsula: wines made in the Dingac area of the Peljesac Peninsula on the Dalmatian Coast are well renowned in Croatia. The grape is Plavac Mali, an indigenous variety that has strong morphologic similarities with Zinfandel. Plavac Mali was first thought to be Zinfandel's ancestor but DNA results showed that a native grape called Crljenak Kastelanski, — actually a parent of Plavac Mali — was the true Croatian counter part of Zinfandel. My notes: this wine comes from the Dingac farming cooperative and winery. Dark brick color, medicinal nose, aromas of wet mushroom. On the palate, dried tannins, rather short finish.

• 2004 Ivo Skaramuca Dingac Plavac Mali Peljesac Peninsula: this is another Plavac Mali wine from the Dingac district. It is produced by the Ivo Skaramuca Estate, named after the owner and winemaker Ivo Skaramuca. My notes: dark red color, sweet fruit and burnt sugar aromas. On the palate, nicely balanced acidity and tannins, ripe banana flavor on the finish. For me, this was a much better wine than the previous Dingac.


According to archaeological findings, winemaking began in Slovenia some 2400 years ago. We suspect that Celtic tribes that lived in northeastern Slovenia knew how to make wine long before the Romans. They also knew how to make barrels from the local oaks. Located between the southern slopes of the Alps and the Mediterranean sea, Slovenia produces a wide range of wine styles, from aromatic German or Italian-inspired whites to full-bodied Bordeaux-style reds.

The wines we tasted:

• 2004 Movia Tocaj Gredic Goriska Brda:
The wine comes from the Goriska Brda region, along the Italian-Slovenian border. In Slovene, brda means hills and the region corresponds to the Italian appellation Collio in southeastern Friuli. In Brda, the Movia estate has been producing wine for more than three centuries. The current owner is the charismatic Ales Kristancic, who believes in a completely natural approach to grape-growing and winemaking and uses biodynamic principles to farm his vineyard. My notes: bright color, nose of pear and honey, crisp on the palate with caramelized apple flavors, refreshing finish. Very nice!

• 2001 Zlati Gric Laski Rizling Ledeno Vino: produced by the Zlati Gric Winery (means golden hill in Slovene), this is a Welschriesling (Laski Rizling) ice wine (Ledeno Vino) from the Maribor area, a region with a strong German influence and with the best white wines similar to those grown in the Rhine and Mosel valleys. For this wine, the grapes were harvested in November at -10ºC then pressed at the same temperature in order to keep the ice crystals formed inside the grape berries and only extract the sweet, concentrated juice. My notes: greenish color, smoky nose, sweet and meaty on the palate, slightly soapy finish. On its website, the winery recommends pancakes with chocolate stuffing, nut roll, or dried fruit with the wine.


Romania ranks tenth among the world's top wine producers by volume. Thanks to the country's mild Mediterranean climate and fertile Danube Delta, Romania produces many different types of wines, from dry, sparkling whites to full-bodied reds. After the phylloxera epidemic, many indigenous vines were replaced by varietals imported from Europe, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir.

The wines we tasted:

• 2003 Aurelio Cabernet Sauvignon Special Reserve Dealu Mare: the wine is produced by the Rovit Valea Calugareasca winery in the Dealu Mare appellation. Dealu Mare, which means big hill in Romanian, produces mostly red wines from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir, as well as the indigenous Black Feteasca. My notes: brick color, smoky nose of sweet caramel, green and tannic palate, seems oxidized.

• 2004 Vampire Cabernet Sauvignon Recas: the wine is produced by Vampire Wines, a winery that successfully exports its wines to the United States, Canada, and Europe. Not surprisingly, its best selling month is in October, just before Halloween! My notes: dark red color, nose of black fruit, spices and tar, balanced acidity and tannins on the palate, some greeness on the finish but overall, rather pleasant.

I really enjoyed taking this class. The company was great. Derrick was very knowledgeable and such a big fan of German Riesling! The wines were often delicious, sometimes surprising, always interesting. Highly recommended class for the curious minded who likes to experience uncommon flavors and wine styles.

Related stories:
•  Wines of Germany and Eastern Europe class: Rheingau, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, and Mittelrhein
•  Wines of Germany and Eastern Europe class: Nahe, Rheinhessen, and Pfalz
•  Wines of Germany and Eastern Europe class: Kremstal, Kamptal, and Wachau (Austria)
•  Wines of Germany and Eastern Europe class: Hungary

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Val said...

Hi! We Slovenians truly have a long winegrowing tradition. As I could read you have tried two brands, but still there are many very famous wines you should definetly taste. The best way is to come to visit Slovenia and take a tour on Slovenian wine tracks...tehre are many of them:)

Catherine Granger said...

I would love to visit the country! And I hope that we'll find eventually more Slovenian wines in this country.

Marcus g58 said...

Same here and same here. Literally.

I'm posting about Movia to my blog -- the only Slovenian wine I've tasted (and it's the Tocai varietal too). A hobby like wine often leads you to realize how big the world is.

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Anonymous said...

Burgundy wine
(French: Bourgogne or Vin de Bourgogne) is wine made in the Burgundy region in eastern France.[1] The most famous wines produced here - those commonly referred to as Burgundies - are red wines made from Pinot Noir grapes or white wines made from Chardonnay grapes. Red and white wines are also made from other grape varieties, such as Gamay and Aligoté respectively. Small amounts of rosé and sparkling wine are also produced in the region. Chardonnay-dominated Chablis and Gamay-dominated Beaujolais are formally part of Burgundy wine region, but wines from those subregions are usually referred to by their own names rather than as "Burgundy wines".

Burgundy has a higher number of Appellation d'origine contrôlées (AOCs) than any other French region, and is often seen as the most terroir-conscious of the French wine regions. The various Burgundy AOCs are classified from carefully delineated Grand Cru vineyards down to more non-specific regional appellations. The practice of delineating vineyards by their terroir in Burgundy go back to Medieval times, when various monasteries played a key role in developing the Burgundy wine industry. The appellations of Burgundy (not including Chablis).

Overview in the middle, the southern part to the left, and the northern part to the right. The Burgundy region runs from Auxerre in the north down to Mâcon in the south, or down to Lyon if the Beaujolais area is included as part of Burgundy. Chablis, a white wine made from Chardonnay grapes, is produced in the area around Auxerre. Other smaller appellations near to Chablis include Irancy, which produces red wines and Saint-Bris, which produces white wines from Sauvignon Blanc. Some way south of Chablis is the Côte d'Or, where Burgundy's most famous and most expensive wines originate, and where all Grand Cru vineyards of Burgundy (except for Chablis Grand Cru) are situated. The Côte d'Or itself is split into two parts: the Côte de Nuits which starts just south of Dijon and runs till Corgoloin, a few kilometers south of the town of Nuits-Saint-Georges, and the Côte de Beaune which starts at Ladoix and ends at Dezize-les-Maranges. The wine-growing part of this area in the heart of Burgundy is just 40 kilometres (25 mi) long, and in most places less than 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) wide. The area is made up of tiny villages surrounded by a combination of flat and sloped vineyards on the eastern side of a hilly region, providing some rain and weather shelter from the prevailing westerly winds. T

he best wines - from "Grand Cru" vineyards - of this region are usually grown from the middle and higher part of the slopes, where the vineyards have the most exposure to sunshine and the best drainage, while the "Premier Cru" come from a little less favourably exposed slopes. The relatively ordinary "Village" wines are produced from the flat territory nearer the villages. The Côte de Nuits contains 24 out of the 25 red Grand Cru appellations in Burgundy, while all of the region's white Grand Crus are located in the Côte de Beaune. This is explained by the presence of different soils, which favour Pinot Noir and Chardonnay respectively. Further south is the Côte Chalonnaise, where again a mix of mostly red and white wines are produced, although the appellations found here such as Mercurey, Rully and Givry are less well known than their counterparts in the Côte d'Or. Below the Côte Chalonnaise is the Mâconnais region, known for producing large quantities of easy-drinking and more affordable white wine. Further south again is the Beaujolais region, famous for fruity red wines made from Gamay. Burgundy experiences a continental climate characterized by very cold winters and hot summers. The weather is very unpredictable with rains, hail, and frost all possible around harvest time. Because of this climate, there is a lot of variation between vintages from Burgundy.
You can find more info at: http://www.burgundywinevarieties.com/

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