This is the 7th year for the Dalmacija Wine Expo, and we’ve attended six of those. It’s always a fun event, and we enjoy checking out what’s new and meeting up with old friends. This year, it was held in a new venue, the Hotel Park in Split.
There were some good and some not so good aspects to that – it was nice to be within easy walking distance to the downtown, and the recently renovated hotel is lovely… but the dining room as an expo location felt cramped (especially on a very crowded Saturday), and it was not available until after lunch was over!
As a showcase for specifically Dalmatian wines, DWE has changed over the years and increasingly we’re seeing more winemakers from other parts of Croatia and neighbouring countries. The focus on the wide range of indigenous grape varietals has gone, along with the food and wine pairings and the final evening party. So we have new exhibitors coming in (which is good), but overall this event is getting smaller as local winemakers either don’t appear, or they exhibit as part of an agency. It’s a shame, and we do wonder if the appearance 2 years ago of the Dubrovnik Festivina at almost the same time has divided the marketing efforts of many producers.
Having said that, DWE did attract a good crowd, especially on the Saturday afternoon. Lucky for us, we had plenty of time to go around the expo floor on Friday, before settling in for the seminars. There are an increasing number of rosé wines being produced, many from grape varieties you may not have heard of. Jo Ahearne was launching her new Rosina, made from darnekuša, an indigenous Hvar variety. It’s a lovely light floral rosé, with a hint of something savoury in the taste.
Along similar lines was Nikola Birin’s rosé, a blend of plavina and lasina, local varieties from the Šibenik area. Of the more classically full-bodied Dalmatian rosés, we have the fine example of Tomić Opolo, made from plavac mali. The other rosé that stands out in my memory a week later is the Markus, made from cabernet sauvignon.
The other increasing trend in Croatian wine, which I love to see, is for more sparkling wines. Indeed, there was even a seminar on the subject, given by Kruno Filipović. Of those presented, my favourites (in order of appearance at the seminar) were
- Šember Brut Plešivica rosé 2013. Lovely dry pinot noir, 6 months in wood. 12.5% alcohol.
- Kabola Re 2013 from Istria. Aroma of white flowers! 80% Malvazija Istarska, 10% Chard, 10% Pinot.
- Bolfan Centurion 2010/2011 with flavours of chocolate and apples. Selected blend from the best parts of the vineyard.
Also on the Friday, we had a guided tasting from Master of Wine, Jo Ahearne, who talked about why she’s making her own wines on Hvar, and giving her international perspective on the strengths of Hvar wines, and Croatian wines in general. For her, it’s all about the sense of place evoked by the indigenous varietals, and the potential of the cooperant system of growers and wine makers. The international market is saturated with Italian, French and Spanish wines, and Croatia offers a new, niche wines. There are lots of people interested in the different varieties from here – very encouraging!
On Saturday, we had a couple of excellent guided tastings from Saša Špiranec on the potential of the 2013 harvest Plavac mali, and my favourite – big white wines from Croatia. I love white wines, and it’s good to see Pošip gaining ground over Chardonnay as the most popular white grape in Dalmatia. Here’s my particular favourites from the 9 that we tasted, again in order of appearance at the Big Whites tasting
- Bolfan Sauvignon 2013, Zagorje-Medimurje. Light colour, very floral, aromatic herbal, light wine. 12.5% alcohol.
- Kabola Unica, 2010, Istria. Malvazija Istarska. Smoky pineapple! Tropical fruit integrated minerality with salty taste at the end. 14%.
- Stina Pošip 2015, Brač. Citrus flowers, sherbet, pineapple/kiwi fruit and fresh pears. 13%.
- Korta Katarina Pošip, 2015, Korčula. Spices and baking, dry minerality. 6 months barrique on lees, 6 months steel tank.
- Krajančić Statut, 2011, Korčula. I’ve highlighted this one in my notes with double stars! Flowers, aromatic herbs, honey, baked biscuits. Semi-dry, traditionally made in small quantities to be given as presents. Aftertaste of carob and apricots. 13%.
- Iločki podrumi, Velika berba 2011, Ilok. Graševina. Fresh meadow and linens, lime juice and dry apples with little tannin. 13%.
The Taste of Croatia team Goran Zgrablić, Lada Radin and Morana Zibar, gave an entertaining and interesting presentation comparing wines from opposite sides of the Adriatic – Italian and Croatian. The connections across the sea have always been strong, and there are great similarities in the wine styles – and some distinct differences! The wine tasting, as always, was enhanced by food specially prepared by Chef Dalmatino himself, Čedo Kovačević.
All in all, a great couple of days of wine tasting, marked on the Friday evening by a superb dinner at restaurant Kadena as part of the Stars of Cuisine part of the show. Always wonderful to taste chef Braco Sanjin’s carefully prepared and beautifully presented food, and this year accompanied by wines from Hvar’s own Antun Plančić. Great evening with friends!