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Graševina Without Borders

Written on 08-07-2017 by Dusan Jelic, Novi Sad, Serbia

Graševina Without Borders Conference has taken place on July 1, 2017 in Zagreb, Croatia

Graševina is a Central and Eastern European variety and her origin is not yet discovered. There are few theories, yet it is interesting to mention that there are only two countries not using a word ‘riesling’ or ‘rizling’ in her name - namely Croatia and Serbia. It is exclusively called Graševina in Croatia, while in Serbia there are two names - Grašac, which is an authentic name which should eventually prevail and ‘Italijanski Rizling’.

 

Graševina is an important part of viticultural identity of all countries along the Danube, such as Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia and Austria, as well neighboring countries - Slovenia, Czech Republic and Macedonia. Graševina is also known as Olaszrizling, Welschriesling, Laški Rizling or Grašac.

Jancis Robinson in her seminal book Wine Grapes, co-authored with Julia Harding and Jose Vouillamoz, stated that the very first name of this variety should be ‘Graševina’, as this variety is very popular and profusely planted in Croatia. In order to celebrate and brand this lovely variety, a group of Croatian wine professionals decided to organize a conference about Graševina!

On Saturday, July 1, 2017 in the International Hotel in Zagreb, the very first conference totally and exclusively dedicated to the indigenous (autochthonous) Central and Eastern European variety Graševina, has taken place!

 

Five extraordinary master classes were presented to the great audience, with the guided tasting of selected Graševina wines! The lecturers were Saša Špiranec, Daniel Ercsey, Bruno Gaberšek, Igor Lukovic & Jo Ahearne! More than 30 truly extraordinary renditions of Graševina were tasted during the master-classes in the following order.

 

Graševina in Croatia (Saša Špiranec)

Feravino, Graševina Miraz 2016 (Feričanci)
Vina Erdut, Graševina 2016 (Erdut)
Adžić, Graševina Hrnjevac 2016 (Kutjevo)
PP Orahovica, Graševina vrhunsko 2015 (Orahovica)
Belje, Graševina vrhunska 2015 (Baranja)
Perak, Graševina Mitrovac 2015 (Kutjevo)
Iločki Podrumi, Graševina Velika Berba 2011 (Ilok)

 

Olaszrizling - Hungary’s most widely grown variety (Daniel Ercsey)

Joó Pincészet, Joóreménység 2016 (Villany)
Gál Lajos Pincészete, Kantor-tag (Single Vineyard) 2016 (Eger)
Pócz Pincészet ,Balaton Bor 2016 (Balatonboglár)
Laposa Birtok, 4 hegy 2016 (Badacsony)
Szent Donát Birtok, Slikker (Single Vineyard) 2015 (Balatonfüred-Csopak)
Somlói Vándor, Olaszrizling 2014 (Somló)

 

Welschriesling & Laški Rizling, people’s variety of Austria & Slovenia (Bruno Gaberšek)

Frešer, Laški Rizling ECO 2016 (Štajerska Slovenija)
Gross, Welschriesling 2016 (Štajerska, Slovenija)
Steyer, Fazan 2015 (Štajerska, Slovenija)
Gjerkeš, Laški Rizling 2015 (Prekmurje)
Jamšek, Laški Rizling 2015 (Vipavska Dolina)
Gross, Welschriesling Pretschnigg 2014 (Steiermark)
Zorjan, Laški Rizling Demeter 2013 (Štajerska Slovenija)
Marof, Laški Rizling Bodonci 2012 (Prekmurje)

 

Comeback of Grašac, Fruška Gora, Serbia (Igor Luković)

Kiš, Grašac 2016 (Fruška Gora)
Vinum, Grašac 2016 (Fruška Gora)
Tri međe i oblak, Grašac 2016 (Fruška Gora)
Quet, Grašac 2016 (Fruška Gora)
Šijački, Grašac 2016 (Fruška Gora)
Molovin, Grašac 2016 (Fruška Gora)
Kiš, Grašac 2011 (Fruška Gora)
Kovačević, Grašac Amphora 2015 (Fruška Gora)

 

Graševina - from sparkling to TBA (Jo Ahearne MW)

Josipović, Pjenušac Brut NV (Kutjevo)
Buhač, Graševina Liska 2016 (Ilok)
Antunović, Premium Graševina 2013 (Erdut)
Kalazić, Graševina IBB 2008 (Baranja)
Krauthaker, Graševina IB 2007 (Kutjevo)
Galić, Graševina Leon 2011 (Kutjevo)

 

After the conference I travelled to Slavonia and the Croatian Danube. This is a region consisting of endless plains covered in golden fields of wheat and three mighty rivers: Danube, Drava and Sava. This region is a true home of the Croatia’s principal variety! Kutjevo appellation in the heart of Slavonia is one of the top Graševina regions in the world! On the slopes of Fruška Gora, on the Croatian side also great Traminac (Gewürztraminer) wines could be found. There are also numerous red varieties, thriving under the sun in this region, namely: Frankovka, Zweigelt, Bordeaux varieties and Portugieser. Warm summers and cold winters, together with deposits of loess permeable to water, always render wines from this region rich and mature, with plenty of floral tones in the whites and sweet fruity undertones in the reds.

 

Our first stop was the winery of the Prince of Slavonia, Mr. Vlado Krauthaker, who contributes immensely to rich wine-growing & winemaking tradition of the Kutjevo region & Croatia as a whole! At the time of its founding, Krauthaker Winery owned only 1 ha of vineyards, however by 2010, the winery expanded to 32 ha of vineyards. The winery also processes additional 68 hectares of carefully nurtured third party owned vineyards. A truly special attention is paid to indigenous Graševina variety, which is frequently awarded gold medals at fairs and wine exhibitions. It is important to emphasize environmentally (ecologically) friendly wine-growing & constant quality as a major principle of their production. Top quality and success of Krauthaker wines is best described by numerous medals and trophies received at local and international - globally renowned wine competitions & tastings!


We then travelled to Feričanci municipality in order to visit FeraVino Winery. This winery is located in the western part of Osijek- Baranja County. Agriculture has always been important part of the local economy. Development of agricultural economy has been particularly marked by vine-growing. It is evident that vine growing is important in Feričanci even today, as much as it dates back to XIII century! FeraVino winery offers a possibility to taste wines in Old Cellar & wine boutique & other catering services such as winery tour accompanied by a professional person, wine tasting in Old Cellar, preparation & serving of food & beverages, wine school, wine road or vineyard tour and so on.


We then headed to our third stop - Vina Belje vineyards and winery situated in the Croatian Danube region.  Grapes from the fertile soil on the slopes of hills along the Danube give well known wines along the gentle slopes Banovo Brdo, on the southern slopes of these hills spreading some 12 km from Danube towards the west. These grapes are shielded from the cold fronts from the north & they soak more sunshine than in the valley. On a tiny part of this superb location there are the very best grapes Baranja can give. It is called Golden Hill (Zlatno Brdo), already named during the Roman time Aureus Mons, while German rules of this territory named it Goldberg. Graševina, Chardonnay & Cabernet Sauvignon give sublime wines of the superb quality to be enjoy in the special occasions! The new Belje winery has capacity of 8 million liters and it occupies more than 10,000 square meters. Inside the winery Ms. Suzana Zovko & her team continue a successful vineyard story & create the final product - Belje wines! After fermentation tanks and wine presses a portion of the wine travels to one of oak barrels kept in the Vina Belje cellar.

Old Cellar was mentioned for the first time in 1526 in descriptions of Battle of Mohács when it was visited by Turkish soldiers of the great leader Suleiman the Magnificent, when this space was used as a horse stable and powder magazine and its lower level as a prison. With an area of 1,200 square meters Old Cellar is the biggest in Croatia and it was built in a special way in order to have two levels. The level upstairs is called ‘gator' and it’s typical for Baranja region as the cellar is not dug below the surface, instead it is dug into Banovo Brdo which perfectly resembles a classic wine cellar. There are 71 big oak barrels on the level upstairs made from Slavonian oak from Spačva forest, whereby 17 of them are with capacity of 10,000 liters and remaining 54 with capacity of 2,000 liters. There the greatest treasuries of each wine cellar are kept - namely wine archive with over 20,000 bottles, including the oldest - Cabernet Franc from 1949 vintage!

 

Our fourth stop was Erdut - once a medieval fortified feudal castle, then the seat of a feudal estate, is a place on the eastern slopes of the Dalj mountains along the Danube River in the micro-region of Erdut in the eastern Croatian plains, located 46 km from the city of Osijek, the center of Osijek-Baranja County (to which the town and municipality of Erdut belong). The vineyards owned by the company Erdut Vineyards cover 460 ha of which 350 ha were planted between 2003 & 2010. Erdut vineyards are located on the eastern slopes of the Dalj Mountains along the Danube which surrounds Erdut & makes it a peninsula. White wine grape varieties make up 75% of the total vineyard area and red varieties 25%. The most abundant white wine grape variety in the Erdut Vineyards is Graševina (280 hectares). Other white varieties are Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, while the red ones include Zweigelt, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Frankovka (Blaufränkisch). Bathed in sunlight & surrounded by the Danube, Erdut Vineyards has been actively working on the development of the spirit of tourism. All visitors are offered a tour of the original cellar from 1730 and a new cellar and winery built in 1985 with a capacity of 6 million liters of wine, sheltering the largest wine barrel in use in the world, with a volume of 75,000 liters - something to leave all winelovers breathless!

 

The final stop of our vinous journey were Iločki Podrumi (Ilok Cellars) - located on the right bank of the river Danube, in the most easterly located town of Croatia, in Ilok, the town of antiques & wines. Lovely vineyard sites are covering the wavy plateaux of Western slopes of the Fruška Gora Mountain, heading towards the mighty Danube! Ilok Cellars have a total annual production of around 4 million liters of wine, produced from 990 ha of vineyards (330 ha from own vineyards & 660 from cooperative farmers). Beside their core business of vine cultivation and wine production, Iločki Podrumi are leading the way in developing and caring out the authentic and unique tourism and gastronomy potentials of this part of Croatia. Ilok is an attractive wine tourism destination indeed. Furthermore, in the last few years, the company has developed its own wine shop chain throughout Croatia. Ilok indeed has a unique terroir, with varietals that achieve their utmost in different styles of wines under one brand, with dedicated employees, state of the art technology and continuous quality improvements in all aspects of their activities. This has culminated in them being one of the region’s leading and most important growing and development vehicles. Countless awards across most influential and important national and international wine competitions contribute and testify to this end! 

 

After three truly brilliant and exploratory days, I can conclude that Graševina variety has an enormous potential. Its characteristics usually range from subtle and delicate, refreshing wines in the West Slavonia to rich and opulent, dry, fresh, mineral renditions from the Central Slavonia, and mature full-bodied and powerful expressions of wines nurtured along the Croatian Danube region. Furthermore, sweet predicate wines from carefully selected dried berries and ice wines that can age for a couple of decades, are simply shiny jewels of this region. It was a great idea to organize this conference and a study trip and I would like to warmly congratulate Saša Špiranec, Igor Luković and their teams as well as other collaborators for organizing this superb celebration of Graševina!