New Harvest Proves Again Why Ilok Cellars are Paramount to Local Wine Consumption

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When speaking recently with Marjan Simčič, renowned Slovenian winemaker, he mentioned the feeling that the most precise and pure Croatian wines are made in Slavonia and Danube Region. We recalled his assessment when tasting the new harvest of the basic bottled line of Ilok Cellars.

All six wines of the label, recognisable by the screw-in cap (and low prices), are made perfectly pure, without technical flaws, in recognisable style and with unexpectedly high personality for such a price. We visited Ilok Cellars for the first time four years ago. Besides known positions such as Principovac and famous predicate wines which have won hundreds of international awards, we were immediately impressed by oenologist Vera Zima, a woman of tangible experience and optimal competency for her job: Ilok Cellars are a very large company with 350 hectares of their own vineyards and about as much in lease. Zima’s job is to take such a significant amount of grapes and turn them into several labels and maintain a decent commercial quality in larger formats, both bag in the box or one litre bottle.

Now, the best way to mass-produce different categories of white wines is maximum processing purity. This is where Zima excels exceptionally: all Ilok bottled wines are recognisable by variety, fresh, unusually precise, not only in Croatian criteria. When talking about the basic label of bottles, the 2016 harvest may be the best to date. The 2016 Traminer with 12.5% alcohol is rich, aromatic and smooth, with a lovely long ending and enough freshness to be combined with stronger food. Graševina is in its usual best-seller form: characteristic variety, crunchy, medium body, plenty of freshness. Frankovka rose is old-fashioned, emphasises redness, maybe not dry enough, but chock full of berry fruits and quite irresistible.

Chardonnay is the freshest of the six wines in the basic label; Pinot Blanc and Riesling are without a doubt very correct. The true contribution of Ilok Cellars to the Croatian wine industry, and the wine consumption culture in Croatia, is in the value for money relationship. The basic labels of Ilok bottles costs between 32 and 39 kuna. When the wines are on sale, just as the 2015 harvest is now (in Ilok Cellars shops), prices fall to 22 or 23 kuna. There truly isn’t and has never been a better wine in Croatia, available for 22 or 23 kuna, than the Traminer or Graševina by Ilok Cellars with the screw-in cap.

Traminer 2015 with the screw-in cap did win the Decanter bronze medal, a great feat for a wine priced between three and five euro. Grace to the extraordinary relation between price and quality, Ilok Cellars have taken on the role of one of the major educators of Croatia wine audience. Anyone who bought a bottle in the supermarket or any of Ilok’s shops at a regular or discounted price was faced with an excellent wine from a healthy, good and variety recognisable grapes, understanding that good wine can be enjoyed every day, for a price not much higher than two bottles of beer.

This is, in fact, how a mass wine audience is created: the one that buys in supermarkets, but afterwards won’t spend money on various Macedonian or no-name Italian bottles with pretty terrible content. Ilok Cellars managed, together with two or three larger Croatian wineries, to offer supermarket shoppers a high quality wine as a mass product. Hence their contribution to the wine consumption culture in Croatia is exceptionally important.

New harvests of Ilok Cellars, just arriving to stores, will continue this mission, since 2016 was a great harvest in Srijem as well. Our absolute favourite from 2016 is a very fine Traminer, whose opulent taste stays in the mouth longer than a minute. We wonder if it will win at Decanter a bronze or a better medal. If you ask us, it deserves a silver. Vera Zima again has a strong reason to be proud.

For the original and more from Plava Kamenica blog, click here.


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