One Baranja winery is worth more attention these days than ever before. It is the Kalazić winery from Zmajevac. Their wines came into our focus by chance in the past several months and won us over every time with an unbeatable ratio of price and quality. They impressed us at the Graševina Conference, then in the survey of best supermarket wines under 30 kunas published in the last two issues of the Dobra Hrana magazine, then in the winery itself which we visited after the mentioned successes. Slavko Kalazić, winery owner, we met for the first time a dozen years ago. He gave an impression of a man hungry for challenges. He went into winemaking after a series of business and private circumstances irrelevant for this story, but it is important that he was a rookie. He knew nothing of wine, did not cherish a winemaking and wine growing heritage, nor was he in money like many new winemakers-businessmen so that he could rent knowledge and buy technology at will. The only thing he had was an analytical approach, a stable business on the side which enabled survival and the conviction that Baranja offers the best conditions for wine growing than any other region in Croatia. Beginnings were more than tough, Jutarnji List published on August 16, 2017.
With the trading logic of dispersing risk he planted ten different varieties and gave himself incredible starting troubles as in the under-capacitated winery he built with his starting capital there was no room to ferment various varieties at the same time, which meant he had to delay harvests beyond ideal deadlines, so the wines suffered in the end. He approached the market with ten to twelve labels of displeasing design and overly ripe wines averaging over 15 percent alcohols as a result of late harvests, which buyers and traders mostly avoided. After a defeating start, Slavko did not give up. He sold his wines below their value in order to build sales channels and gain a name, learning winemaking along the way in practice and learning consumer logic. He built a new winery in the meantime, whose capacity fits the needs and in which he can offer wines the attention he wants to. His initial claim of Baranja being a region for the highest results began to feel serious as after a period of learning and gaining experience he exploded like a supernova in all directions.
His wines now have everything. Their style is adapted to the expectations of consumers, bottles have a wonderful design, quality is excellent and prices are more than friendly, they have a certificate of organic (ecological) cultivation, and every wine faithfully reflects the variety and climate. He arranged his wine in three lines. The first is a basic called Classic with a large clock on the label stuck at 5 minutes to 12. These wines can be bought at 30 to 40 kunas and are absolute champions in that price range. They are usually flaunty and fresh. The second line is named Silver due to the silver cap and see-through bottles with four white wines and a rose. They are invigorating, fresh and scented wines, recognisable by flowers on the label. The quality is very high. In the Premium line are wines with the highest ambition and ripe and overly ripe style of late and selective harvests from the beginning of his career, which obviously defined him as a winemaker and person. They are recognisable by drawings of wildlife on the label. Amazed with the excellent quality in all prices ranges we tasted, it was difficult to single out only three to recommend.
KALAZIĆ CHARDONNAY 2015 (CLASSIC LINE), price 30 kunas, (Kaufland)
We cannot recall a wine from this price range ever rated this high. It is wonderful, and although from 2015 it still has plenty of fruitiness, taste and freshness. A truly wonderful balance, very mild alcohol and surprisingly intense taste. Wine for every day, to be had with lunches and dinners, but you will also not fail if you give it as a gift as it style and quality everyone will appreciate. Moderate, harmonious, juicy finish. Very fine everyday wine.
KALAZIĆ GRAŠEVINA 2016 (SILVER LINE), price 60 kunas, (in the winery)
A truly impressive Graševina. Lovely, fresh, scented and developed. Has nothing in relation with its cousins from the north-western parts of Croatia, but also nothing with those from Kutjevo. Has a typical Baranja vigour and some 14 percent alcohols, but breathes a freshness typical of the variety, with abundant fruit and flower aromas in the scent and softness and juiciness in taste. Clear finish with irresistible savour as the last impression. Outside the box in a positive sense.
KALAZIĆ CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011 (PREMIUM LINE), price 79.50 kunas, (in the winery)
This ambitious red in its sixth year is still an adolescent and has at least a dozen year of fulfilled life ahead of it. It was schooled for two years in 500 and 225 litre barriques for the tannins to balance out and for the wine to reach full maturity and balance. Has a very lively and dark ruby colour, with black currant on the nose. Very concentrated in the mouth, lots of taste and very firm and pronounced tannins. Alcohols are at 14.5 percent with a very long finish with a fine fruity retro taste. High class of red wine served with stronger food or juicy steaks.
Translated from Jutarnji List.