At the third WineOS festival of wine and delicacies, which began last Friday in the Esseker Centre in Osijek, president of the Graševina Croatica association, Vlado Krauthaker, have an overview of this year’s harvest in Slavonia and the Danube Region, Poslovni Dnevnik reported on December 11, 2016.
This winemakers association has been working for five years to promote Graševina, a wine variety which dominates the total wine market in Croatia. It spans five counties, with 20 members who produce 10 million litres of Graševina out of a total of 17.7 million litres produced in Croatia. Krauthaker rated the last harvest as very good, with certain peculiarities both in Slavonia and Danube Region.
“In general, rough weather reduced yield by 20-30% in Slavonia, while the Danube Region had no such events. Excellent potential and health of the grapes resulted in fermentations which gave young, well structured wines, of very complex aroma profiles,” explained Vlado Krauthaker.
He pointed out the problems facing winemakers today, mostly concerned about the lack of workforce. “Slavonia, used to hand picking, due to a smaller workforce and emigration will have to switch to machine picking. This year we had 25 percent less workforce than the previous,” Krauthaker added.
The results of previous successful harvests in Slavonia and Danube Region were presented by Graševina Croatica with a tasting of awarded wines produced by their members in 2016. At both domestic and international wine festivals, from the Graševina festival in Kutjevo, to Mundus Vini and the recently finished largest global rating of Cabernet and Merlot in Bergamo, where all red wines from Slavonia and Danube Region won gold medals, confirming the potential of the region in producing high quality red wines. The tasting presented: Graševina Antunović, Graševina Erdut, Graševina and Zelenac Krauthaker, Frankovka and Merlot by Feravino, CS Merlot by Vina Belje, MERCS Krauthaker and late harvest Cabernet Sauvignon Kalazić.
Graševina Antunović 2013 won 90 points, four stars at the competition. Graševina Erdut 2015, made from grapes harvested on 280 hectares, is described as playful.
Zelenac Krauthaker comes from the only winery that produces this wine from vines found back in 1882 in Kutjevo. As Krauthaker details, Zelenac is excellent for predicate harvests, a soft wine for wines and brandies whose peak comes in the second year. It is loved by the French, exported to Bordeaux and served in a restaurant with two Michelin stars.
Frankovka Orahovica from 2011, an exceptional red wine exported to New York where it has won a gold medal in the red wines category. Besides New York, it is present in Mexico, Japan and The Netherlands, so the winery has made export its priority.
Merlot Belje 2012 won a gold medal in Burgundy, the Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 a gold medal at the Emozioni del Mondo competition and is exported to Japan. Krauthaker’s MERCS 2013 won a gold medal in Bergamo.
Kalazić Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, late harvest, won gold in Krakow, the only gold for Croatia. It is called the Slavonian Prosecco, with 45 percent alcohol.
The second festival day was marked by a tour of four wineries of the Erdut region which presented their work and results. Mladen Siber, originally a dentist, has a vineyard at 150 metres above sea level, making still and sparkling wines and participating in ideas for his wine labels.
Along with production, Siber also sells grapes, nearly 80 percent of the yield. Most of them ended up in Austria this year which was hit by frost and willing to pay a euro and a half per kilogram. Besides Austria, Siber sends his Cabernet Sauvignon south, to Pelješac peninsula where quantities are insufficient.
Brzica winery, at the same sea level, has 24.000 vines. “In this area small winemakers started out about ten years ago, with seven of us, Siber, Tunjić, Brzica, Juris, Jakovac, Janečić and Antunović, covering 100 hectares. We are completely different by variety and production methods, but are woring together to brand this part of Croatia,” said Ivo Brzica.
They moved into the winery in 2011, with 10.000 vines of Graševina (80%) and Chardonnay (20%) and the remaining 14.000 of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%) and Vranac and Merlot. “I produce around 45.000 bottles, while my philosophy includes simple wines and I plan to keep this quantity and work on quality. Our red wines are a surprise compared to the rest of Croatia, while this area had no Cabernet Sauvignon ten years ago,” said Brzica.
Erdut Vineyards have existed since 1730, with the largest single parcel vineyard in Croatia, precisely 513 hectares, 495 in one parcel and the rest next to the winery with a view of the Danube river. “If our vineyards were placed in a single row, they would amount to 1.800 kilometres, the distance to Berlin,” Erdut Vineyards said.
This impressive area has 70 percent of white and the rest of red varieties, mostly Graševina which has a large yield and is not demanding. Their cellars also have the largest barrel from Slavonian oak, with 75.000 litre capacity, and another 52 barrels in the old cellar.
In the three years Vukmirović has been leading the company, they have invested in new plantations and increased production by 2.5 times, planning to complete a project which will offer a different cellar interior and exterior to boost the brand of their premium winery.
“95 percent of our wines are quality wines, the rest being premium wines and we can boast 1.000 bottles in our archive from 1998 on. We export wines to EU nations and plan to continue in the future,” Vukmirović concluded.
Winemaker Jasna Antunović explained this job entails a lot of love and willpower. “We all do this out of love, no one began with winemaking as a profession, with a joint goal to brand this area differently,” said Antunović who took over the family business.
She pointed out only five percent of production is sold in the area, with her wines present along the coastline in many hotels, mostly in Dubrovnik, then Valamar, Sun Gardens and Lukšić hotels.