Wine Sensation: Extinct Indigenous Variety from Zadar Hinterland back Among the Living

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The mystical red wine, very special due to its potency and drinkability, disappeared from domestic vineyards and was almost forgotten

For a long time Svrdlovina, an indigenous wine variety from the Ravni Kotar area, was considered extinct and lost. The mystical red wine, very special due to its potency and drinkability, disappeared from domestic vineyards and was almost forgotten until the first Zadar wine festival, when it made a comeback to the oenology stage in the best light, Slobodna Dalmacija reported on April 2, 2017.

His first bottles of this exceptional variety were opened by Zadar winemaker Mladen Anić who devoted the last years of his winemaking exclusively to reviving Svrdlovina, carefully gathering the remnants of this vine around the county.

Today he is the proud owner of a vineyard with six and half thousand vines in Smilčić, and the story of how he regenerated Svrdlovina is almost incredible.

“Ever since I was a child, I listened to stories of Svrdlovina as something special, our indigenous variety unlike any other. Many years later, when I began as a winemaker, I remembered these stories and began searching.”

“Our family vineyard only had a few vines so I spent four years across the county collecting one by one. I also found a few vines in Privlaka, Škabrnja, Žegar and Smilčić, made a selection used to track grapes, chose the best and had them reproduced.”

“We carefully searched for a way to make superior wine from it, and we succeeded. These bottles were filled 15 days ago. The DNA analysis done in the Split Adriatic Culture Institute confirmed this is a completely unique variety genetically closest to Pinot Noir, but not related.”

“Nor to Plavac or Plavina,” said Mladen Anić who grows Svrdlovina at the Figurica location in Smilčić where he has one of the most modern wineries in this area.

When exactly Svrdlovina disappeared is unknown. But, it can be said with certainty that the time coincides with the period when the locals began to add sugar to wine!

“It is one of the roughly 20 indigenous Zadar varieties which simply disappeared. It is barely present in vineyard as it was cultivated simply to improve Plavina, but the moment the wine began to be improved with sugar, its disappearance slowly began.”

“Which is a shame, as it is truly a special and mystical wine and maybe this story would be a good road sign for Svrdlovina – just like Babić in the Šibenik area and Plavac in Split – to become our protected Zadar variety instead of these forced French ones we have,” said Mladen Anić whose Svrdlovina will be on the market in September.

Anić and his Figurica are among the 82 exhibitors of the Zadar wine festival whose first edition gathered a large number of participants. In the special stone ambience of the 500 year old Zadar Arsenal, this past weekend over 400 different wines were tasted along with gourmet delicacies from all Croatian regions.

The idea of starting such a festival was well received among Zadar winemakers.

“In the past 15 years Zadar winemaking made a large step forward. There are many investments, even more awards and superior wines. Today it is hard on find in the Zadar area, with a really strong tradition, a wine which is not very good or excellent.”

“We are here mostly for them, but also Zadar caterers who are preparing their wine charts at this time, with an opportunity to connect with domestic winemakers and their wines, especially young new wines they can use for the coming season,” said Danijel Peroš, successful Zadar caterer who organised the festival together with sommelier Ivan Stiblik.



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