Croatian Wine: The American Dream from the Plešivica Hills

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TCN is spreading its wings. Total Croatia Cycling is moving forward very nicely, and the site will be finished in 3 weeks, if not sooner. Next up is Total Croatia Wine, perhaps our most exciting project yet. A Total Croatia Wine Facebook page was started on May 23, 2016 and the website will be finished by the end of June. It will include contributions from some of Croatia’s best wine writers – in English for the first time. We are delighted to partner with G.E.T. Report, one of the most popular faces on the vibrant Croatian wine scene. In the first of a series of G.E.T. articles, Tomislav Stiplošek takes a closer look at the American Dream from the Plešivica Hills. If you would like to get involved with Total Croatia Wine, contact us on [email protected] 

You may remember, several years ago we wrote of Ivan Pavlečić; furthermore, we did a video and were jubilant over his wines, especially the Manzoni and the Mace. The latter was named by my friend Ribafish as a small perversion in a bottle. I expected then a large lunge and his transformation into another great Plešivica winemaker, but this did not happen. Simply, Ivan was close, but no unge occurred. I won’t delve into reasons,a s they’re not important. What matters is, we think Ivan Pavlečić is ready to create great wines. But, first things first.

After a long time, the phone glows “Ivan Pavlečić”; I answer, and the other side aims straight for the head: “Tomo, we have a tasting day after tomorrow at my place – some of my wines and some American. Can you come?”. “Of course I can!”. Upon arriving at Ivan’s, I began to grasp the point. A man named Marko Ćopić, whom I met once while touring him and Ivan through the wine frontiers of VINOcom, set off to America two and a half years ago with the goal of opening a winery. And would you believe it, the boy made it! The winery, set in Denver, Colorado, is operational and successful so time has come for him to showcase his wines to us, in his homeland. A rather expert society met at Ivan’s that evening. With us were, for example, Nenad Maslek, Franjo Kolarić, young Josip Korak, Antonio Ivančić, a representative for amphorae in Croatia; naturally, alongside Ivan Pavlečić and Marko Ćopić were we – the G.E.T. Report crew. We first tasted two Slovenian wines, of the new Bojan Kobal winery, brought by Maslek – a Šipon and Grey Pinot. I must admit, the Pinot is an excellent wine, but the Šipon left a more than excellent impression on me – the wine’s aroma has reached perfection. Its taste is excellent, finely balanced, lightly structured, as Šipon is. So, Bojan, hats off!

We ventured on to taste what we had gathered for – the Colorado wines. The first wine poured in our glasses was a Rhine Riesling. My first sensation was alcohol and then a shock – the wine has 15.2% alcohol. Too much for me. A longer stay in the glass takes away the aggressiveness of the alcohol and the wine becomes decent, but do not look for a specific sort. If we weren’t told what’s in the glass, I doubt anyone would have guessed.

A true American wine – no specific flaws, but nothing special either When I desire a Riesling, I’ll have one, and this wine is, bluntly put, just a wine. We also tasted a Chardonnay Sur Lie and then some red wines (too young for any discussions) and it was all fine, but I doubt these wines would be my first choice. However, Marko creates them in America for Americans and no wonder we don’t think much of it.

You see, it’s common over there to dilute the must with 20-30% water. It’s quite legal and legitimate. Add in some wine acids and all you need – as much as you need.

For example, Marko buys New Mexico Zinfandel, where they freeze the grapes and ship as such. The sugar levels are huge, acidity 3 and when it’s complete you have a decent, balanced wine; anything goes. OK, maybe it’s not first class wine, but for regular restaurants it’s just fine. This fo course goes against our notion of wine making, but such are laws over there. And Marko sells his wines for $28, while we clamor our wines are too expensive. In any case, I am grateful to Marko for enabling us to taste his wines and offer a new view into American winemaking. Hopefully we’ll get to visit his winery in Colorado and see it all first hand. And yes, the wines are fine, without flaws, but nothing special… Truly American, but Marko is living his American dream and may it last long.

We tasted some more wines from Franjo Kolarić, while I especially liked the sparkling Portuguiser; a very interesting wine. Kolarić has a huge palette of Grey Pinot wines with some extraordinary creations. The Chardonnay Sur Lie of the Korak winery needs no words here. The greatest discovery of the evening were two Chardonnay Sur Lies by Pavlečić from 2012 and 2013, both fantastic. Wines to be desired. Left me speechless. Unfortunately, you can’t buy them, they’re not for sale, but patience… We’ve agreed to create a brand new design and story. We’re elevating the Pavlečić winery as a phoenix; very quickly you’ll hear more of him, and even more of his wines. Just a little more patience.

Original article here (translation by Igor Nobilo)


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