Vinart Grand Tasting 2023 was an absolute treat. The wine show went off without a hitch last week with a full house in attendance and amazing wines on display. A number of engaging workshops and tastings preceded this year’s Grand Tasting. I was lucky enough to visit a few of those and was very happy with the organization and content.
My favorite tastings were the vertical tastings of Joannes – Protner Winery’s Rieslings. Out of ten wines ranging from the vintage 1998 to 2021, all of which were very good or great, I was especially impressed by their 2011 and 2015 vintages.
Another interesting workshop was the one by Ilocki Podrumi Winery presenting their Graševinas and Gewurztraminers. This winery hails from Ilok area, renowned for Gewurztraminer. Workshop line-up had a few amazing bottles with their Traminac 2009 being the star of the show in my book. Lovely fragrant and warm wine bursting with aromas of lychee, rose petal Turkish delight, toasted almond and date. It was still elegant and with plenty of acidity to keep it going for quite a few years more.
Vinart Grand Tasting 2023 – the Main Event
When it comes to the main two days of the wine show, Grand Tasting did not disappoint. On the contrary, the event had so much quality on display it was difficult to taste my way through the entire thing in two days. At no point did the operational side of the show felt lagging. Both days were well organized and handled. In fact, from the organizational standpoint, this might be the best Grand Tasting so far.
Selection of wineries on display perfectly showcased the diversity of Croatian wine scene. All regions of note had great representatives. This year I was especially interested in continental reds. This category is far from the most popular in Croatia, but I have to say there are some great fruity, refreshing reds in our landlocked regions. Also, I am very happy to taste some lovely pinot noirs this year, most of which went for the lighter, elegant style.
New Croatian Wine Trends?
So, what would be some trends to note this year? Well, it is safe to say Croatian winemakers are continuing on an upward trajectory when it comes to quality and packaging of their products. Diversity is still the name of the game on this market. Many small producers follow their own visions of what their wines ought to be which makes for a boutique market like few others. However, it is this diversity that might end up hurting our chances for international acclaim.
Many local varieties and vineyard positions don’t have neither official nor unofficial descriptions of the aroma profiles or wine characteristics to aim for. This does add to the excitement for wine nerds exploring the area, but it also makes it difficult for regular consumers to know what to expect when buying wines. It seems there will have to be more communication between the winemakers in the future on this topic.
Other than that, Plavac Mali wines seem to be smoother than ever and our indigenous Crljenak (Zinfandel) is on its way to claim more of the market than ever. Skin contact white wines or orange wines are still going strong with many of the larger wineries jumping on the band wagon, perhaps a few years too late. Sparkling wines also seem to be gaining more and more popularity in all regions of the country and that is perfectly fine by me.
We will be bringing more info on individual wines of note from this year’s Vinart Grand Tasting in the coming weeks and months. For now, let me just say it was a lovely event with great wines and great people.