I believe Tomislav Bolfan would be the happiest man in the world is he could exchange his biodynamic ideas with someone from Croatia. Although lately more and more Croatian winemakers put front wines which are a sort of homage to the tradition of their land and a return to iconic nature, Tomislav is, unfortunately, still the only one, as he claims, “officially certified as a 100 percent ecological producer.”
“The truth on healthy food, as with all things in the world striving for the good of man, is slowly coming forth. I have been officially certified for 8 years as a 100 percent ecological producer, the entire winery is ecological and this makes us, I think, the only ones, but I have a feeling something is on the move. The problem is that the structures of our homeland don’t pay much attention to it, while in Europe many nations are turning towards this and states finance the education of citizens. As the largest problem is the general population does not understand the difference between an ecological and another product. The awareness of consumers must be raised. Austria has two official media printed in thousands of copies, promoting ecological production. Today in Austria there is not just wine, but cheeses, pork, veal made by certified ecological producers,” says Tomislav.
This is why Tomislav will always head over to nearby Austria for good advice, where ecological production is seeing fantastic changes. He mentions the example of one of the largest producers of Sauvignon who had no problem to switch production and transform into an ecological producers on 60 hectares of vineyards. Literally overnight!
“All I want to ask him is what, as a large producer with a market and a name, made him go down that road.”
In Croatia the only person to talk to about his wine philosophy is Ivan Enjingi, a slightly elderly genius from Hrnjevac who in his 77th year is not giving up on cultivating another 10 hectares of vineyards. Some four years ago in a barter, Tomislav received from Ivan his first six Angus cows which marked the beginning of the animal story at Vinski Vrh.
“Old Enjingi is wholeheartedly in ecology since forever. This is why procuring Angus from his herd was a logical move. We cannot deal in ecology if the story is not complete. The tenacity of a plant or vine lies in how much we help the vine to feed itself. And this is not done with nitrogen or ecological pellets based on artificial ingredients without enough life in them. Vines need live manure. I took six Angus from Enjingi four years ago, and they are already up to 11! My problem is that I cannot secure enough pastures so the growth of the herd is limited. Angus have thir wn five hectares of pasture, and in winter we use straw prepared for them, and this is all they eat. We are not growing them for meat, although the time will come when some form of additional food will be needed. And for this I will cultivate ecological corn and barley, especially when they are pregnant, as the calf depends on the milk the cow provides.”
At the last edition of the Vino.com wine festival in the Esplanade in Zagreb, Tomislav has a stall right across from my Dalmatian Wine Stories. His Aromano, Pinot Gris bolstered with ten percent of Traminer, was for me, but only me – one of the festival highlights. But also the announcement of his orange wines which will be on the market before the summer. Along with Aromano, there is the Tingo, a seven day macerated Traminer whose unusual name “should remind that wine is pure life and just by saying the word you can feel invigorated – the name must send a message that the wine contains pure nature!”
“Both Aromano and Tingo belong in the orange wine category, although I do not macerate them as much as Rožanić, for example. In my opinion, this style is lighter, more flaunting and still retains fruitiness, just like despite the long maceration, varietal characteristics of Pinot Gris and Traminer are felt. The story with Aromano is not new, I made it in 2012, but completely sold it to London and did not present it in Croatia at all. In London the wine flew off the shelves and a year later I got a new order, but I could not make it the same way…”
Both Aromano and Tingo are for Tomislav Bolfan still – a research. Tingo was produced without any sulphur in production, or in minimal amounts needed during bottling “just so the wine could remain in the bottle for 5-6 years without oxidizing.”
Several years ago Tomislav managed to fulfil one of his dreams and produce grape seed oil. Unfortunately, in the range of all that goes on at Vinski Vrh, this oil remained – a souvenir. He says his current priority is to bring the Angus into a maximally useable function so his vineyards could be more resistant through their manure, to avoid treating them with various protective means.
Translated from Wine Stories.