The Godfather of Istrian Wine: Ivica Matošević

What if I told you that there was a Croatian winemaker out there capable of making badass wines easily comparable to the giants of France, Italy and Spain? Would you believe me and why not? Now, before you jump to conclusions, hear me out people. I’m not trying to degrade anybody here, but the reality is that you, the casual wine drinker, would grab the first bottle of Chianti or Cote du Rhone if you found yourself in a London supermarket, hesitant of what wine to pair with Cajun steak and passionate sex. Tough luck.

Reputation is a slippery slope. It can blast you into the stars, but it can also cut you off both feet. You can make better wines than half the French, it just won’t matter for the majority of consumers who simply want to enjoy some goddamn peace and quiet alongside a pool of alcohol. But there will always be the other side of the coin – folks that are thirsty for knowledge and willing to try something new on a daily basis. These people are the national treasure of the wine world and need to be protected from merciless capitalistic influence & cloying monotony at all times. Yes, it’s always going to be safer to play the card of buying that 5-million-production Bordeaux Rouge, but instead of purchasing the new Macklemore album, why not go with the lesser known, but highly legendary Currents from Tame Impala? Continue reading “The Godfather of Istrian Wine: Ivica Matošević”

Your Istrian Go-To Winemaker: Trapan Wine Station

Call him the bad-boy of winemaking, the Istrian RocknRolla or the young zealot of Teran. But whatever the name tag is, one cannot dispute the fact that Bruno Trapan is definitely a game changer freshening up the scene with his avant-garde approach and thrilling personality. You may be shocked by his bluntness or click with him immediately, but one thing is certain – you will not leave his winery indifferent. Continue reading “Your Istrian Go-To Winemaker: Trapan Wine Station”

Istria Is Launching Wine to the Moon and It’s Going To Be Epic

Biodynamic production just entered a whole new dimension. Well, sort of. By the end of 2017, Istrian producers of the indigenous Teran should launch their wine(s) to the Moon. The offer for this seemingly insane fantasy came from Google Lunar XPRIZE, a competition worth 30 million dollars. Team Synergy Moon, one of the five finalists, will launch a rocket that Google will fund to travel 500 meters and transmit high resolution video, images and data back to Earth . The team’s rover created just enough room for a bottle of Istrian Teran to make history in outer space. Continue reading “Istria Is Launching Wine to the Moon and It’s Going To Be Epic”

Bucketlist: Wine Regions of Former Yugoslavia

You are sitting in a wine bar with a couple of friends, thinking of what new wine to try and one of them suggests a bottle of Prokupac. Proku what? Most wine drinkers have never heard of this popular Serbian grape variety nor of Vranac, Blatina, Rebula, Teran, etc. for that matter. Even though relatively small, all ex-Yu grape-growing regions (all in all, six of them) have a unique ability to spark up your wanderlust and put you on the first plane to the south-eastern part of Europe. Continue reading “Bucketlist: Wine Regions of Former Yugoslavia”

Wunderkind of Pelješac: Boutique Winery Vicelić

Lately, I’ve been having a lot of these first-winery-epic-greeting moments. Vicelić is a surname to engrave into this category without doubt. Honestly, I haven’t read or heard a lot about this guy up until my visit, but I must admit, eating tuna steak in a vineyard 200 metres above the Adriatic Sea is all the PR I need. A boutique winery humbly producing 20.000 bottles a year, Vicelić is the new kid on the block who you introduce to your friends, tell them you know your stuff, let him show his skills and BOOM, you have a reputation. Definitely a better love story than Twilight.

Mateo and his wife Lucija, together with their 3.5 hectares of vines, are the definition of blue-chip hosts. Along a rocky-limestone path, which is the main culprit for the greatness of Plavac Mali, we experienced a real rally ride to their open air tavern. For six hours we talked, laughed, ate and admired the magic of Pelješac, especially the pureness of the Adriatic Sea near midnight, when all goes numb, giving way for darkness to intoxicate every single pore in the body. You feel no burden, no racing thoughts. Just pure bliss cleansing the spirit. Continue reading “Wunderkind of Pelješac: Boutique Winery Vicelić”

A Paradisal Peninsula: Pelješac, Croatia

If Pelješac is not a pure example of a terroir-driven region, I don’t know what is. A peninsula located in southern Dalmatia, this area fascinates with vineyards everywhere you turn, from Orebić in the northwest all the way down to Ston. Even though the winemakers here have potential to grow many different world-famous grapes such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, etc., they find little sense in that because of the double I Plavac Mali – iconic and indigenous. There are some plantings of Rukatac, Pošip and Crljenjak, but these are either very limited in quantity or are reserved for other sub-regions such as Korčula and Komarna where winemakers are much more dedicated to exclusively these varieties.

Iconic micro-locations, Postup and Dingač, give birth to colossal age-worthy red wines made from Plavac Mali. These wines are deep ruby red, high in alcohol with structured tannins and aromas of red and black fruit with subtle hints of earth and Mediterranean herbs. If aged in oak (happens most of the time), they will be reminiscent of baking spices, black olives, cigar box, dried fig and leather. Everything you’re looking for is in the batch – New World style, fresh, rustic and experimental. Continue reading “A Paradisal Peninsula: Pelješac, Croatia”

Il Più Grande: The Art of Marchesi Antinori

The fact that every serious winelover knows at least one wine from this immense selection displays how big the Antinori brand actually is. Opened in 1385 (yes, you read it right), this winery developed its roots in beloved Florence (Tuscany, Italy) and is currently active in three other countries – Romania, Hungary and the US. However, it is most recognizable for its historic role of shaping one of the most famous Italian wine styles, the so-called Super Tuscans.

In 1971, Marchesi Antinori decided to stand up against Italian wine laws that allowed mixing white grape varieties with red, but forbade blending in international grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (*facepalm*). He got stripped of his DOCG status, with the Italian government laughing in his face and assigning him the vino da tavola label (table wine, the lowest rank you can get in Italy). Our young hero did not wither and soon received a reward for this brave act – a recognition in the US press as a rebel with a cause. Today, his Tignanello for example, has a mere IGT status (regional wine), even though it meets all requirements for DOCG. This is a perfect symbol of dissent against the rigid Italian wine tradition that began 45 years ago and managed to launch Antinori in the crème de la crème of iconic brands today. Continue reading “Il Più Grande: The Art of Marchesi Antinori”

Around the World in 18 Wines: Wine Point, Belgrade led by Frank Smulders MW

I open Youtube, start playing Prince, pour a glass of white and type the first words of this article. It all kind of falls into place and goes with the flow of a stupendous experience I had in Belgrade this past weekend on Wine Style’s Wine Point. Aleksandar Duković, the leading wine expert in Serbia (both in my perception and according to the certification he holds), created something worth all the praise in the world – a six-hour event led solely by the finest people in the industry. Now, you readers living outside of the Balkans will probably think „oh, come on, MWs have presentations every other week in my city“, but for us this is a serious step forward and not at all an easy task to accomplish.

Basically, Wine Point was a WSET/MW seminar followed by a grand tasting of Antinori wines. Frank Smulders, a Dutch Master of Wine (MW) and one of the principal educators in the business today, guided 30 people through the classic systematic approach of tasting, explained what it takes to receive the highest title in this trade and guided us through all the levels of the largest wine institute in the world – Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET). Continue reading “Around the World in 18 Wines: Wine Point, Belgrade led by Frank Smulders MW”

Must-Try Wines from Campania, Puglia, Calabria & Sicilia

Airplanes and hotels have never been my first option when traveling. It’s not that I don’t like the commodity, it’s just that I like the adventure and looong philosophical window sessions a lot more. But besides all the fun and games I create for myself, every once in a while I get to be part of something profoundly professional fused with a colossal amount of enjoyment. This time my destination was Belgrade, Serbia where a Masterclass of southern-Italian wine was held by Barbara Tamburini (consultant oenologist for more than 15 Italian wineries) and Igor Luković (editor at Vino & Fino) in the Hyatt Regency. The trip was organized by the Italian Trade Agency (ITA), which is spread out in more than 65 countries and works strongly on the promotion of high-quality Italian products.

This two-day hedonistic trip was opened by a visit to the gastronomically acclaimed Madera restaurant in the heart of the capital. Our group was served a 5-course wine & food pairing consisting of local cheese, beefsteak, chocolate mousse, Malvasia Nera and other delicacies. But the true enjoyment started the next day. Continue reading “Must-Try Wines from Campania, Puglia, Calabria & Sicilia”

Vertically Discovering Dingač with Vicelić Wines

This vertical tasting was not just an everyday work task with a due date attached to it, but rather an event proving why we’re living such a beautiful life. It was the first time I organized an official tasting for a group of close friends interested in the world of wine, but quite hesitant to put their finger on what exactly they like about it. We sniffed and tasted four wines from the same winery, grape variety and region, but of different vintages (2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010). They enjoyed it so much, that my very good compadre Adin even wrote a passage about the whole experience and sensory escapade he went through. Here’s a small excerpt that I’m most proud of:

At the beginning of the evening, Saša told us that Dingač 2011 was probably the best one in the flight. For me, it was not only the best one in the flight, but the best red wine I’ve ever tried. So I say to Saša, “I just lit a cigarette after a meal, but I can’t remember which dish preceded the cigarette”. He laughs, turns around and pulls out three Cuban cigars out of the drawer. After the third sip of wine, I remember what came before the cigarette and finish my imaginary dinner with a perfect chocolate souffle. And yes, the cigars and wine enhance the intensity of this blissful moment which I could’ve sworn I’ve experienced in a past life.

Plavac Mali is a grape variety well-known to the majority of Slavic people living in the Balkans. It is highly appreciated for its robust wines marked by high fruit concentration and tannins. Its kingdom is the Pelješac peninsula (Dalmatia, Croatia) where it thrives on sandy soils and receives optimal sun treatment on south-facing slopes. Why particularly wines from this area? Well, there’s this young winemaker Continue reading “Vertically Discovering Dingač with Vicelić Wines”

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