My first official event for the Vancouver International Wine Festival 2020 was the A TASTE OF CROATIA dinner at Atlas Steak + Fish in Burnaby. It was quite an event, packed full of people wanting to try Croatian wines. The food was superb as well. Let me lead you through the wines and then the food pairings.
What do you know about Croatian wines? Probably not too much as you do not see them widely distributed here in BC liquor stores. I have had the opportunity to try Croatian wines over the last 2 years during the VanWineFest. I do enjoy trying wines made with indigenous grapes to see what new aromas and flavours they have to offer in a wine. I do also like to pair wine with food and see how each may influence the other. I saw this dinner available and applied to attend as media.
Goat Cheese Mousse Tartlette, Cured Tomato
Franc Arman Winery Istria Rosé 2018
Krolo Winery Sjora Rosé 2018
Dungeness Crab and Mascarpone ‘Panna Cotta’ Savory Tuille, Fennel, Cucumber, Preserved Lemon
Korta Katarina Posip 2017
Coronica Wines Gran Malvazija 2016
Braised Lamb Cheek, Parsnip, Raisin, Sprouted Grains
Krolo Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2013
Franc Arman Istria Teran Barrique 2015
Mesquite Roasted Beef Tenderloin, Beet Jus, Fondant Potato, Crème Fraiche
Korta Katarina Reuben’s Private Reserve 2008
Coronica Gran Teran 2015
Savory Stilton “cheesecake”, Blackberry
Krolo Crljenak Kastelanski 2016
Korta Katarina Plavac Mali 2009
All the wines I tasted this evening used one of these indigenous Croatian grapes.
Teran – ” …is a variety of red grape from Istria, Croatia. It is mostly found in western part of Istria. It is a late-ripening variety and grows in large clusters with densely packed berries. Berries have highly resistant skin and deep ruby red color…Its colour is ruby-red, almost purple, and it has high tannins and a typical, fruity aroma which is easy to recognize…” Teran Grape – Wikipedia
Plavac Mali – “…a cross between Crljenak Kaštelanski (ancestral Zinfandel) and Dobri?i? grapes, is the primary red wine grape grown along the Dalmatian coast of Croatia. The name refers to the small blue grapes that the vines produce: in Croatian plavo means blue; mali means small. Plavac Mali is known for producing rich, flavorful wines that are high in both alcohol (typically 12% but up to 17%) and grape tannins. Common flavours and aromas include blackberries, dark cherries, pepper, and spices…” Plavac Mali Grape – Wikipedia
Malvazija Istarska – “…is one of the oldest and best known autochthonous grape varieties in Croatia. Grown mostly in Istria and the northern section of Croatian coastline (so-called Primorje, not Dalmatia) since the times of the ancient Greeks…The usual alcohol content is between 11.5 and 14%, and the acidity quite low. So, young and fresh Malvazija will be an easy drinking wine for parties, while the more seriously matured barrique will complement seafood, high-quality fish on grill and stove-cooked meals best after 3-5 years. During good years and on the best of locations the grapes can be left to collect higher sugar concentrations, thus producing excellent dessert wines.” Malvazija Istarska Grape
Posip – “…is an autochthonous white wine grape that is primarily grown in the Dalmatian region of Croatia on the island of Kor?ula, although small amounts are also being grown on the Pelješac Peninsula…Pošip is generally light bodied, around 12-13% in alcohol and best had at the cool temperature of 14 °C. It is a natural companion for fish dishes…” Posip Grape – Wikipedia
Crljenak Kastelanski – “..is probably the most famous indigenous Croatian wine in the world. Of course, not under that name – I mean, who can pronounce it at all, if they called it that it would be very unpopular. So, in the US they call it something else: Zinfandel. In Italy, a third name: Primitivo…ripens rather early, needs less sunny hours than its child Plavac Mali to create high sugars and high acids, and the wine is wonderfully deep red, with lower tannins than Plavac Mali…” Crljenak Kastelanski Grape
My Wine Tasting Notes
During dinners like this, it is hard to take many detailed notes due to lighting, type/size of glass, the aromas of food, etc., so my notes are less detailed than when I review from home or a wine only trade event.
Franc Arman Winery Istria Rosé 2018 – A light orangy wild rose colour in the glass with a fragrant strawberry nose. It is medium-bodied, soft with medium acidity and a touch of tannins. It has a good acidic fruit balance. Sweet and tart strawberries and leaf on the palate.
Krolo Winery Sjora Rosé 2018 – Light orangy wild rose colour. A very light floral nose. Smooth, medium body with light acidity. It has a rounder thicker mouthfeel with a blend of red fruit flavours. –
Korta Katarina Posip 2017 – Golden coloured. It has a light honey and ripe stone fruit nose. Medium-plus body, round, with medium acidity and mouthfeel. Roasted pairs and a touch of oak on the palate. –
Coronica Wines Gran Malvazija 2016 – Our speaker during the event told us how many steps this wine went through to be produced, including cryomaceration. It was quite incredible. The wine is bright lemon coloured. It has a light apple-pear nose. Medium-plus body with an acidic prickle. Lemon, lemon skin, and bruised apple flavours. –
Krolo Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2013 – This blend is Cabernet Sauvignon dominant. It was opaque garnet in the glass. This wine has lots of Old World oak, or some may say cedar, aroma along with nutmeg spice. Ripe dark fruit and black cherries on the nose. This wine has a medium minus body with a light mouthfeel and medium fine tannins. Black fruit, black cherries, and almost a touch of molasses flavour. A medium-length that finishes softly, but with some air, the tannins pick up a bit.
Franc Arman Istria Teran Barrique 2015 – opaque in the glass with a mix of garnet and ruby colours. Light intensity gamy, leather and black fruit aromas. This wine is fuller body, soft with a lower acidity. It has smoky, black cherry flavours with a light vanilla touch on the finish.
Korta Katarina Reuben’s Private Reserve 2008 – This wine is a dull opaque garnet in colour. It has deep, ripe black fruits and Old World oak aromas. It is full-bodied with medium acidity. Sweet ripe black fruit and nutmeg, followed by pepperiness. It has medium intensity fine-grained chalky tannins. A very nice older wine. –
Coronica Gran Teran 2015 – Opaque garnet colour. Floral, red and black fruit mixed on the nose. It is full-bodied, very found and mouthfilling. Ripe black fruits, mineral, and nutmeg flavours. Medium-plus intensity tannins. –
Krolo Crljenak Kastelanski 2016 – This wine has a dull opaque garnet colour and a light porty nose. It is full-bodied with flavours of black fruit, nutmeg and dill. Very intense flavours. It gets very peppery on the mid-palate. –
Korta Katarina Plavac Mali 2009 – This wine has a bight clear opaque garnet colour. Leather, capsicum, graphite and nutmeg aromas, with more on the palate. The wine also has a mineral component to it. Medium-plus tannins.
Pairings and Food Pictures
The Scallop Ceviche paired nicer with the Krolo Sjora Rosé 2018 for me. The ceviche was high in acid, spicy and a strong cilantro flavour. The smoothness of the Krolo Sjora Rosé helped to round out those spicy and bright flavours; a complementary pairing. The Goat Cheese Mousse Tartlette with Cured Tomato paired better with the Franc Arman Rosé 2018 as the wine had higher acidity which could through the fattiness in the goat cheese tartlette.
Our first course was the Dungeness Crab and Mascarpone ‘Panna Cotta’ Savory Tuille, Fennel, Cucumber, and Preserved Lemon, which was paired with the Korta Katarina Posip 2017 and Coronica Wines Gran Malvazija 2016. The dish had a nice light crab flavour, while the panna cotta provided creamy softness to the dish, and the fennel and cucumber some crunchiness. I thought that the Korta Katarina Posip 2017 was a better pairing with its medium acidity and ripe stonefruit flavours.
Our second course was the Braised Lamb Cheek, Parsnip, Raisin, and Sprouted Grains, paired with the Krolo Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2013 and Franc Arman Istria Teran Barrique 2015. The braised lamb cheek had deep flavours and you could feel the fattiness in the meat. The Krolo Cab Sauv Merlot was a complimentary tasting (both are richly flavoured) to this dish, while lamb cheek brought out the tannins and pepperiness in the Franc Arman Teran Barrique 2015, which was interesting.
The third course was the Mesquite Roasted Beef Tenderloin, Beet Jus, Fondant Potato, and Crème Fraiche, paired with the Korta Katarina Reuben’s Private Reserve 2008 and Coronica Gran Teran 2015. I loved this beef tenderloin. It was indeed very tender, cooked to perfection. I enjoyed the smoky mesquite aroma combined with both these wines. The pairing was very complimentary with either wine.
Our dessert course was a Savory Stilton “cheesecake” with blackberry topping paired with Krolo Crljenak Kastelanski 2016 and Korta Katarina Plavac Mali 2009. The stilton cheese has a very strong flavour and provided some graininess to the cheesecake. It was balanced a bit by the sweetness of the blackberries. Although both wines are red, the cheesecake was a bit too strongly flavoured to work with the Krolo Crljenak Kastelanski 2016, but did make a complementary pairing with the Korta Katarina Plavac Mali 2009.
It was a very filling evening with good wine and good food. I thank ATLAS Steak and Seafood for creating these dishes for us, for the Croatian wineries and the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia for providing us the opportunity to try their wines made with indigenous grapes, and the Vancouver International Wine Festival for inviting me to participate as media.