Denis Bogoević Marušić – Grk is Gerk, a Wine With Bitterness

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“Grk is our treasure, it has global potential, wine that can go to the best world tables and is completely different from anything else”

Pelješac is just incredible. On one hand the local winemakers can boast of their God-given positions in Postup, Dingač, Potomje and Milij, on the other great winemakers from this largest Dalmatian peninsula want to be even greater by introducing Graševina and Traminer into their offer! Young winemaker from Prizdrina Denis Bogoević Marušić does not hide his disappointment with such business moves from some of his older colleagues. Especially since his own example shows that some varieties, long discarded or completely neglected, have not said their last on Pelješac.

“Has it come so far that we must build our business greatness on something that is not from around here? I find it fascinating that despite the great fame carried around the world by our Plavac Mali, someone can even think about expanding production with varieties that are not from around here, without knowing how to oversee them in the vineyard. I’m breaking my back over these few thousand vines, but organic cultivation and biodynamics are my choice and I know why it is so. But, I repeat, I cannot comprehend this competition in size has expanded to producing Traminer and Graševina.”

Denis’ disappointment is equal to the euphoria which overcame him when he faced the results of his first harvest of Grk. A variety that was once at home on Pelješac, present today only in the name of the local football club in Potomje.

“I found it normal for the Grk story to take hold on Pelješac, while the quality of that story will be shown in time. What I can responsibly say now, after the experience of two harvests and one bottling, Grk on Pelješac will be at the same level as the best Plavac. The top ones! I cannot wait for my second Grk, with the first one long gone – I currently have no white wine to drink at home! This has all made me very happy and I began to plant more, although I will never go beyond 3-4.000 bottles. I cannot wait for the new Grk from this harvest! It’s even better than the previous!”

Among the fortunate ones who tasted Denis’ Grk from the 2015 harvest is Siniša Lasan, renowned Croatian sommelier and only Decanter reviewer from Croatia.

“Unlike other wines of the variety, which are excellent but commercial, Denis’ Grk has a soul. When I tasted it for the first time last summer, I suggested to buy out the entire stock for the Proto restaurant where I work in Dubrovnik!”

I have heard of Denis’ Grk in the Peninsula wine bar in Donja Banda, while winemaker Baldo Kangjera did not hide his exhilaration with the wine, but also the reactions which these bitter sips left on the few that had the opportunity to taste it. Even the always whining Vedran Kiridžija turned his attention to Denis’ Grk. Simply, when anyone talked of Grk on Pelješac last summer, the only talk was of Denis Bogoević Marušić!

“My Plavac Mali is in sand, just as Grk, which is in the Plavac genetics. Although there are recommendations for Pelješac to go ahead with cultivation of Rukatac and Grk, besides sporadic vines in vineyards of Plavac Mali no one has gone in that direction and made a varietal wine from Grk. Some might be found in a smaller amount in some Rukatac wines. So to learn about Grk all I had was to taste wines from Lumbarda, which are all fantastic wines, technically perfect, but are not my story and that’s not what I wanted to do with the variety. Considering the acidity the variety has I realised Grk is ideal for my story of maceration. Maceration with Rukatac can be interesting, but due to a lack of acidity in the variety I am not sure if I would be able to achieve what I wanted. Again, I didn’t want to work with any introduced varieties, as then it wouldn’t be a Pelješac story. I had to have a local variety and that’s it. From the first time I tasted a Grk grape, I loudly proclaimed: This could be truly messed up!”

Denis is a big lover of macerated wines, but he claims “among them are many wines that are on the borderline of being called wines!”

“Those stories don’t interest me, but the excellent stories with macerated wines… This is where this Grk found its place! I macerated it quite like the Plavac Mali, 5-6 days, as I wanted to preserve the freshness and variety and fruit component, but also to feel the effect of maceration, which was done without sulphur and with natural yeasts, even the alcohols are on par with our Postup and Dingač. Grapes are healthy, maceration went great, fermentation was done ideally, all went as it should have. And when it came time to taste, then you feel the bitterness of Grk and realise that Grk is actually Gerk, the origin of the variety name leaves no doubt once you taste the wine!”

Denis doesn’t hide his pleasure with his Grk which is “just the way he likes it”, so good he’d rather not sell it but only share with friends in the cellar.

“Grk is a variety that can do plenty, all because of good acids. And its biggest strength is that it’s a variety that principally belongs here and is very hard to work with anywhere else. Grk is our treasure, it has global potential, wine that can go to the best world tables and is completely different from anything else. We can only be proud that we have Grk,” concluded Denis Bogoević Marušić.

For the original and more from the Vinske Priče blog on wine, click here.


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