Ask the Pros: 2017 Balkan Vintage Report

What a rollecoaster of weather conditions 2017 has been. From spring frost to extreme temperatures to heavy rain, this was truly the survival of the fittest. Only the most competent viticulturists got their grapes out of this alive and well and have passed the torch to their winemakers. Talking to some of the most skillful people in the Balkan region, I can conclude that the 2017 vintage will bring bottled magic to our tables. We just have to WAIT. Will it be worth it? Read on and find out. Continue reading “Ask the Pros: 2017 Balkan Vintage Report”

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”

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”

Filling in the Blancs: Exotic Wine Travel

You know how most pilot episodes, books or articles are consisted of the author being crazily hyped up, having basically no idea what’s going on, but hoping that his “new thing“ will not fail miserably? Well folks, the first Filling in the Blancs had many candidates lined up, but I’d say this one initially struck the lotto. Matt and Charine are two young wine lovers who have decided to flip over the table and head on a quest of turning their passion for THE drink into a career and call it Exotic Wine Travel. It’s been a bumpy road through lesser-known regions, but step by step, winery after winery, they’re getting closer to their goal. So far, they’ve published two books – Travel Learn Earn: Let the World Be Your Guide to Freedom, as well as Uncorking the Caucasus: Wine from Turkey, Armenia, and Georgia and have appeared on JancisRobinson.com, Wine Folly, Future Travel and Wine Tourist Magazine. Continue reading “Filling in the Blancs: Exotic Wine Travel”

Top 10 Wines @ Liberty Wines Annual Portfolio Tasting 2017

Getting a chance to attend the Annual Portfolio Tasting of Liberty Wines in London was a professional beauty in my agenda. The company was founded in 1997 by David Gleave MW as a start-up with just four people working as staff. Today, it employs 130 individuals and has an annual turnover of £45 million. With awards annually pouring in from IWC, Decanter and SWA (On-Trade Supplier of the Year, Merchant of the Year, Wine Educator of the Year…), I honestly don’t see the need to bore you further with data and statistics of what Liberty Wines is in the international market today.

The APT 2017 was held on the 17th of January in the fascinating Kia Oval cricket ground in South London. This is the chief event of the company and gives wine lovers a chance to taste over 600 wines, spirits, beers, ciders and olive oils from over 150 representatives. To be frank, I only tasted around 250 samples. I started off slow and focused on my writing, but after a few hours I figured out how time is soaring by without me trying anything French or Italian. Luckily, eight hours presented a perfect time period to keep me sane and awake (though a lil’ dehydrated), so I cherry-picked the most sophisticated examples in the last 60 minutes. Being a WSET Diploma student, I really can’t complain about the producers selected for this event, because everything I wanted to cover and rehearse for the upcoming Unit 3 exam was there – Barolo, Tuscany, Australia, Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, South Africa, Rioja… Continue reading “Top 10 Wines @ Liberty Wines Annual Portfolio Tasting 2017”

Grape Nomad’s Top 10 Cellar Picks of 2016

When reviewing 2016, I can’t help but think only one thing – what a shitty year for the world. Alan Rickman, David Bowie and Leonard Cohen died, Donald Trump became president of the US, refugee crises overflowed the news, people still think that sweet wines are cheap rubbish that should solely be paired with poor life decisions. Oh well, at least true wine lovers have been drinking some nice stuff to drown their sorrows and enter 2017 in style, like Kanye West did at the MTV Awards a few years back. But before you go anywhere and start analyzing the trends of next year (which you probably won’t follow), allow me to introduce you to the first Grape Nomad annual recap! Here, you’ll read about MY highest rated wines of 2016, wines that have blown me away with their sexiness and helped me rethink the complexity of this business. Because I decided to discover Italy in detail this year, you’ll see that their wines are pretty dominant in the selection. As a side-note, these are not bottles necessarily released during the year, nor are the scores something you have to blindly follow. I urge you to explore, be open and enjoy whatever gems you find from these top 10 picks. Continue reading “Grape Nomad’s Top 10 Cellar Picks of 2016”

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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