Thursday, September 12, 2013

Terrace View - A Delightful Surprise

I have been drinking wine my entire adult life and have spent a good portion of that as a wine professional. In the course of my work I get to taste a great variety of wines from a wide range of countries and when I have the experience of a new find it's exciting. It's really one of the great pleasures of the job and recently I've tasted some delightful finds and surprises. I'm talking about the wines from Croatia and Slovenia. Don't know them? Well, I didn't either. I'm happy to say that we now offer several wines for sale.

Viticulture in these two countries has a very long history, going back to the ancient Greeks and Phoenicians. What is really exciting about these countries is the variety of wines to try with quality present across the board. You can drink familiar varieties like pinot noir or sauvignon blanc, something less familiar like welschriesling, or indigenous varietals like malvasia istriana, babić, teran, or others. One of our best selling wines this summer has been a Slovenian wine that's a blend of  9 grape varieties, 4 red and 5 white, how's that for unique?

Babić Vines
Interesting also is the story of the red grape plavac mali. For decades there was a debate about the origins of 2 red grapes, California's zinfandel and Italy's primitivo, actually the same grape variety but from two different places and with very different styles and expressions. Forward to the late 1980's and the advent of DNA technology, it turns out that Croatia's plavac mali is related to zinfandel, with the range zinfandel varities being originally from the Caucasus region and existing in Croatia longer than anywhere else. I guess that a handful of Croatian winemakers could have told us that 100 years ago! Plavac mali is a fun wine, from medium to full bodied, and available in styles from casual and fresh to serious and dark.

As I said, there's an overall high level of quality and prices are excellent, all of our current selections sell for under $20.  The wines have a familiarity, a similarity to dry wines in the western European tradition but also show their own personalities. I don't even want to compare them to wines that you know because that would be a disservice, you should discover their flavors and expressions for yourself. These wines are excellent and we love them. Try one! Also be on the lookout for a Croatian and Slovenian wine tasting in the store on October 12!

Cheers,
Michael

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