WINE


Visit Pelješac peninsula, without seeing vineyards and affording the pleasure of tasting high quality wines it is like visiting Paris and not seeing Mona Lisa. Your happiness is even greater, because just opposite of Pelješac is island of Korcula and what peninsula means in terms of red wines, the island stands for white wines, these are the most interesting winegrowing regions in Croatian terms. Sun and wine were always connected, and in particulary the vineyards on the southern slopes of the Pelješac peninsula, where the glare of the sun reflected from the sea and the rocky surface is creating additional effects that give high quality wine, with special flavor and aroma. All this and hard work of Pelješac grape growers and winemakers have produced famous wines, wich made the name of Pelješac well known in the world.

Nearby of settelment Nakovana it was found an Illyrian sanctuary in which they celebrated God of fertility and wine, Dionysus, which proves that even during the Illyrian time wine was cultivated here.Greek writer Athenaios allready in the 1 century b.C. wrote about excellent wines produced in Dalmatia, which were an important source of life in these areas, from known times. It is known that the Illyrians (Pelješac-Nakovana) who lived on the coast, came into early contact with the Greeks (Korcula-Lumbarda), where was already well developed viticulture and enology, and this is how probably they have learnd about the grapevine and fermentation process. The Romans in these parts already found developed grape growing and winemaking, so they only continued to plant grapes, as evidenced by the remains of the four villas rusticas in the area of Dingač and Postup. Slavs who settled in this area during the migration of people have only contributed in popularity of Pelješac wines, that was enjoyed even at imperial courts in the Middle Age. We will present you two red varieties and two white varieties, indigenous, special and with great potential. Cheers!


PLAVAC MALI

Plavac Mali (Plavac means blue-Mali means small) is the most important autochthonous grape variety. The best high quality grape of Plavac Mali grows in positions of Dingač and Postup, on the Pelješac peninsula, on the southern side of island Hvar, and in the good positions on the islands of Brac and Vis. It has been shown that grape varieties Primitivo and Zinfandel are genetically related to Plavac Mali, what means, that Plavac Mali was created by spontaneous crossing of varieties Crljenak (Kastelanski Crljenak) with Dobričić.

Basic characteristics of this variety, exept that it thrives on hard, rocky and dry areas of central and southern Dalmatia and on the islands of same, are certainly resistancy to various fungal diseases, hard skin and firm berries, high sugar and moderate acidity. Of course, determination of the quality of grapes are wine-growing year in terms of weather conditions, location, exposure to sun and soil quality. On the very quality of wines that are produced, it is influenced from the procedures applied in harvest and transport of grapes, to the ways of vinification, and finaly maturation and education of wine.

Data on incorporating Plavac Mali, from positions of Dingač and Postup, as the first Croatian protected wine(1961./67.) is another evidence of the importance of this variety for the overall Croatian viticulture.

Wines produced from Plavac Mali are very character, full bodyed, with extremely strong structure. In all features it is a real southern wine, warm, moderately acidic with an emphasized tanninity that in the early stages of maturation can significantly interfere with coordination of taste. Plavac is usually dry, but in exceptional years and low yields per vine, it is more frequent that poses the rests of unfermentaded sugar and high amounts of alcohol.

Purple, dark red color with bluish reflexes, very dense, almost opaque, is typical color of Plavac. Bouquet is pronounced and lasting, a very complex and often with typical varietal aromas of fruit, Mediterranean herbs and spices. Especially are pronounced aromas of plums and figs, almonds, sage and frankincense. Ageing in oak barrels this varietal aromas further are refined with aromas of wood, and with aging the wine gets softness, potability and complexity. It is hard to tell what is real potential of Plavac in aging and maturation, in other words, when is achieved optimal quality for enjoyment. Some of the wine tasteings on that subject say, that optimum maturity in best conditions, is between 8 and 12 years, of course when and if, Plavac is from best positions, exceptional harvest and treated with the best technological processes in vinification and maturation. However, we recommend that most Plavac is spent within the first five years of harvest due to the amount of acid that plavac is missing.

It is important to note that high class Plavac Mali ,due to its roughness of young tannins should be waited for at least three years from harvest, and then follow their development by tasting it.

Gastronomy and Plavac Mali are bounded with tradition. It is hard to imagine a typical Dalmatian dishes like “Pašticada” or some meal prepared with blue fish, without a glass of good Plavac. Also, the modern gastronomy based in organic origin grocerys is well accepted by Plavac, it is the wine ideal for pairing.

Plavac Mali like Dalmatian brand, it is a task that is ahead of grape growers and winemakers, potential exists and hunger of the “wine world” for “new” exciting varieties is great. We will follow with interest the development work, the application of modern technology of our grape growers and winemakers, with an aim that in the future they produce wines from the category of “best wines of the world.” Plavac Mali can and deserves this.

KASTELANSKI CRLJENAK

Story that follows sounds like a fairy tale for the Croatian wine-growing and winemaking society, but it seems that the world heard more about it than the Croats.

Crljenak Kaštelanski is an old, almost forgotten, Croatian species of grape which recently captured interest of the wine-making public. The reason for that was discovery that Crljenak Kaštelanski and an American species Zinfandel have the same genetic profile. It was established that the two species are the same. The mystery of origin was resolved. From this grape variety is made strong, red and dry wine. It contains aromas of plum, blackberry, raspberry and cherry.

Under the name of Zinfandel this species from the Imperial State Plant Nursery in Wiena (where numerous plants of the monarchy were collected) was introduced to the United States (Long Island) in the early twenties of the 19th century. It becomes a respectable species in the southwest of the country, as an edible fruit at first. In the colder areas it was grown even in the hothouses. Some thirty years later it was transferred to California, where it spreads quickly, especially during the Gold Rush. In the eighties of the 19th century it becomes the most spread species of grape in the United States.

Popularity of the Zinfandel lasts up today. It takes over 23% of all the vineyard areas, and grown by more than 200 producers. A rosé wine of this species called the White Zinfandel is famous. It was at the top of popularity among the American wines for a long time.

Many researches focused on its origin. That mystery was intriguing from the very beginning of its cultivation. It was known that this species same as other quality vines have been brought from Europe. But, due to its meaning in the American culture and history it was considered an America’s vine and wine. The first discovery regarding its background dates from 1967.  Austin Goheen a professor from the University of California Davis, tasted wines in Italy and among others, a type called Primitivo which reminded him of the Zinfandel. Results of various comparative studies of the Zinfandel and the Primitivo led to the conclusion that they were indeed the same species.

Professor Carole Meredith from the Davis University gave the final confirmation of their genetic matching by using DNA – fingerprinting. But, the Primitivo was grown in Italy relatively shortly, much shorter than the Zinfandel in the United States. According to some documents it was brought to the Italian region of Puglia from the eastern coast of the Adriatic.

The question of the origin was still opened, and the Croatian coast emerged as a possible homeland of this species.

Due to the morphological similarity with the Primitivo and the Zinfandel a species named Plavac Mali was being mentioned some twenty years ago as a possible third name for the same vine. This hypothesis gained more and more supporters with time. In order to continue her work on the origin of the Plavac mali , professor Meredith ask for help some American producers (among them was Miljenko Grgić, the famous American wine-maker who is Croatian by birth) and some researchers from the Agronomy Faculty of the Zagreb University (Ivan Pejić, Edi Maletić, Jasminka Karoglan Kontić, Nikola Mirošević). She visited Dalmatia and gathered over 150 samples of Plavac Mali from different locations. The results showed that the Zinfandel and the Plavac Mali are two different species. They are genetically very close, or to be more accurate the Zinfandel is one of the Plavac Mali’s parent. This discovery incited Croatian scientists Maletić and Pejić to continue the search and they discovered the other parent of the Plavac Mali – Dobričić an old species from the island of Šolta. Now, the search was narrowed to islands Šolta, Brač, Čiovo and the central Dalmatian coastline.

Among numerous samples collected was a species Crljenak kaštelanski, taken from the vineyard of Ivica Radunić from Kaštel Novi, recommended by Ante Vuletin. The analysis has shown the identical genetic profile of Crljenak kaštelanski and Zinfandel. This finally solved the mystery of origin of the most popular American vine species. The additional proof of the Croatian origin of this species is a discovery that many other Croatian indigenous species have parental relations to Zinfandel / Primitivo / Crljenak kaštelanski.

This discovery finally puts Croatia in the wine world map where it belongs, and it is now winemakers obligation to make use of interest for Croatian wines and grape varietys , and produce wines that will make us finally famous.

Although it may seem that this story has no special connection with the Pelješac peninsula, you are wrong. It is Viganj, precisely at the location of St. John, where is growing the largest vineyard of Kastelanski Crljenak in Croatia, it is the project of celebrated Pelješac winemaker Mara Mrgudić.

POŠIP

Pošip a variety of white grape, is grown mainly on Korcula, an island that boasts a tradition of growing white varieties since the ancient Greeks (4th century BC. Kr.) Pošip is the first Croatian white wine with protected geographical origin, from 1967th.

Thrives best in sheltered locations of Čara and Smokvica, where always gives a superb quality.Lately exists a tendency to spread to other Dalmatian vineyards.

The wine is vibrant, with straw – golden yellow colour, hard and dense in the glass which leaves a thick trail, high in alcohol (13-14,5%), full and distinctive flavor with a characteristic aroma of dried apricots and figs. For moderate acids fits with all the meals of fish, shellfish and white meat. It is best when served at 12-14 ° C.

About the origin of this variety has long existed more hypotheses. Most often was claimed that long ago seamens brought it from the East, for the renewal of Korcula vineyards. This hypothesis was confirmed by tests, which showed that Pošip with his morphological characteristics belongs to ecological and geographical group Conv. Occidentalis. But it was only the latest DNA tests, wich revealed that the “oriental” morphological traits of Pošip were only inheritated, and that he really is genuine and indigenous Korcula habitat.

Dr. Marcel Jelaska, from the Institute for Adriatic Crops from Split, which was investigating the origin of Posip, from 1965. -1967.He wrote that about Pošip cultivar was first heard in the late 19th century, which is confirmed by the archives of old Korcula familys, where is first mentioned wine Pošip, from harvest in 1880th.

Dr. Jelaska in 1967th year, records an event that happened not so far in history, two or mostly three generations ago.The main actor was Marin Tomasic Barbaca, from Smokvica, cutting down the forest in the canyon Stiniva,he found wild grapes in the woods, wich interested him with its excellent flavor and an unusual aroma. He cut a twigs of her and planted them into his vineyard in the nearby area of “Punta Sutvara.” Through a number of years he multiplied the vines in his vineyard, and gave them to other winegrowers from Smokvica and Cara. In 1967th year, when Jelaska wrote the quoted text, existed stem Posip grapevines on own roots as witnesses to their origin, which kept due to sandy soil, which could not be destroyed by phylloxera, until the oral tradition was not written.

Pošip until then was planted together with other varieties,and mainly was picked and mixed with other white varieties. Of course, only what was left of it, due to early ripening attacked by birds, wasps and other insects, and because of the exellent taste and sweetness people ate it as well.

One of the growers from Smokvica tried to get a small amount of wine only from grapes Pošip and the story went on.

Finally, in 1967. the harvest of Pošip from 1965th was protected as the first premium white wine from the former Yugoslavia. Untill then “minority” variety, and after by some estimates is represented between 85 to 95%, in vineyards of Smokvica and Čara.

Dr. Edi Maletic and Dr. Ivan Pejic from the Zagreb Faculty of Agriculture in 2002nd, have determined with DNA method, that the first wild Posip, which was found in the woods, in the mid-19th century by Marin Barbaca Tomasic from Smokvica, derived from a seed that was “born” as a fertilization result of Bratkovina white (far less known varieties of Korcula) and Zlatarica of Blato, of which one or even both originally are from the east.

Until fifty years ago Pošip was considered a secondary, locally important varieties. The reason for this is probably the fact that it is a relatively new variety that is spread only on the parent island. From the beginning of its growing quality was not questionable, but only recently was recognized outside of Korcula. Many good characteristics (high yield potential, early ripening, high quality most and wine) enabled spreading into other Dalmatian vineyards.

Wines from Pošip are typically strong, full bodyed , with color of “old gold.” Aroma is pleasant and easily recognizable, and the intensity varies greatly between different positions and the year of harvest.By proper selection of the time to start harvest, it is possible to achieve harmony in alcohol and acid, and get a fresh and harmonious wine that would justify its originality voice of the best white wine of Croatian coastal region. Early maturation enables her to spread in the colder Dalmatian vineyards. Early entry into full maturity and some morphological characteristics make it suitable for drying, and getting a traditional dessert wine, that made this variety a hundred years ago very well known.

Knowing that Pošip is indigenous Croatian variety, is truly historic discovery, particularly for the island of Korcula, but also for a Croatian viticulture and enology society in total . While for most varieties in the “origin” stays a wider geographical term or, what is not uncommon to read “unknown”, for Posip is known not only the name of the person who first found it, even is known a precise location in just a hundred square meters, where it was found. This discovery, so far nothing or little evaluated, should be a sign of the beginning of a new era, in Pošips short history. Pošip stud along the shoulder of the world’s most popular white varieties (Chardonnay, Pinot, Riesling of Rhine …). where it belongs, not only because of origin, but also because of its qualitative potential.

GRK

Grk is probably indigenous white grape variety that is usually tied to the island of Korcula and its vineyards (also in the Dubrovnik area),in which tands outs the site of Lumbarda, where the dry and sandy soils achieves exceptional quality. Red sand (specific to Lumbarda ), for which is presumed to be of eolian deposits, or that it is there accumulated before the tectonic disturbance of the earth’s crust in the Tertiary.

Vineyards of Grk are surrounded on three sides by the sea, provide one of the best white Dalmatian wines. Ten years of scientific research has shown that the average amount of sugar in the most was 22.25 percent and a total acid from 5.8 up to 8.2 g / l.

The wine is high in extracts and full bodyed.It is darker golden yellow color, and when properly kept, up to two years in wooden barrels, has a fascinating and incomparable bouquet. Grk is a bitter taste, with a rather high percentage of alcohol (13 to 15), and good when has little of unfermented sugar (about 4 g / l). Grk especially loves all the best that is hunted in the sea, goes well with the best meals of white meat, and can be served as an aperitif. Serve chilled at 12-13 º C.

Unlike in Dalmatia, which is known for red, the island of Korcula is known for its white wines. Here have turned different people and cultures, changing the original landscape, shaping it to this day.

The island of Korcula is known from ancient times like the area of vine cultivation and production of good wine. It is believed that the culture of wine to Korcula was brought by Greeks (Dorons from Kindos) in the fourth century BC, though one can not reject the hypothesis that the vitis vinifera is selfgrown here in the first place, and that the Grk is indigenous Dalmatian variety.

We know also that the Greeks from the island of Vis, called “Isejci”, on the island Corcyra Melaine (they called Korcula by this name) founded a colony right here where it is now Lumbarda. This event has remained permanently writen on the famous stone inscription on “Lumbardian Psefizam” (kept at the Archaeological Museum in Zagreb). Nowhere, Grk as “authentic” variety have succeeded so well as at this small part of Korcula island. Some say it’s because of sandy soil and it certainly can be the truth. However, cultivar Grk is special because, unlike most grape varieties, it poses only female flower that functions, and at the time of flowering pollinator is required, needs vine that blooms at the same time, to achieve fertilization. Therefore, in Lumbarda is grown and Plavac Mali variety, which was chosen not only beacouse of good wine wich is made of him, but also in order to grow the Grk. T

his symbiosis of Plavac Mali and Grk seems still far from fully investigated, and the Grk, as well as variety and wine in every sense it is extraordinary.


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