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Every January there’s a gathering in Osijek dedicated to celebrating Croatian wines and the surrounding regions named WineOS. January 2020 marked the sixth edition of the festival. In addition to Croatian wines, there were selections from Hungary, Serbia, and Bosnia Herzegovina to taste.
Here are my biggest takeaways from this sixth edition of WineOS. These are grapes, wines, and styles you should seek out if you make it to the region.
Graševina is the most widely planted grape in Croatia. It’s a grape that goes under a myriad of names including Olaszrizling, Italian Riesling, Welschriesling, Grašac, Laški Rizling, and more. The grape is Croatia’s most planted variety.
Kutjevo (Slavonia) is considered the spiritual home of the grape but there are also fine examples being made along the Danube in Baranja county and around the city of Ilok. The latter two areas give warmer, meatier examples with lower acidity while wines from Kutjevo show herbal and grassy notes.
Croatian Graševina is an ongoing story and the wines continue to improve. I generally prefer examples from Kutjevo where you can find everything from sparkling to botrytized sweet wines. The fresh examples of Graševina are wonderful with fresh seafood from the Dalmatian coast and come in at lower price points than other white Croatian wine staples like Malvazija Istarska and Pošip.
Wine Recommendations: Antunović Graševina 2018, Adžić Graševina 2018, Krauthaker Mitrovac 2018, Perak Mitrovac 2018, Kutjevo Degotho Graševina 2018, Belje Graševina 2018, Sontacchi Graševina 2019, Kolar Graševina 2018, Buhač Graševina Izborna Berba Bobica 2018
Continental Red Croatian Wine
The majority of Croatian wine production in Slavonia and the Danube is white but there are some delicious reds being made too. The Central European grapes Frankovka (Blaufränkisch) and Zweigelt may be best suited for the region’s climate but many producers still opt to give Bordeaux varieties and Pinot Noir a go.
The reds in this region continue to improve. At the moment, they offer the best bang for the buck as far as red Croatian wines go. I would like to see more of a focus on regional blends like the Feravino Miraz Cuvée, Enjingi Venje, and Iločki Podrumi Kapistrani Crni, all of which contain Frankovka and or Zweigelt.
There are several delicious, fruity reds made from Bordeaux grapes. In terms of varietla wines, there are a handful of fine Cabernet Francs, which makes me wonder why more producers don’t focus on the grape. Don’t miss the TRS Cabernet Franc if you can find it.
Wine Recommendations: Feravino Miraz Cuvée 2017, Krauthaker MERCS 2017. Iločki Podrumi Kapistran Crni 2018, Buhač Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, Sontacchi Pinot Noir 2017, TRS Cabernet Franc 2016, Belje Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2016, Enjingi Venje Crno 2009
Surprisingly, my biggest takeaway at WineOS 6 wasn’t Croatian wine.
There were 12 producers present from Bosnia Herzegovina, all of them from Western Herzegovina. All of them were pouring their wines made from Žilavka (white) and Blatina (red). It was the first time I had such an extensive tasting of the wines since the Blaž Festival 2018.
I noticed a vast improvement in all of the producers present at the show, especially the examples of Žilavka. It’s a white grape with enormous potential and when I tasted through the samples a few years ago, almost everyone was using it to make simple, fruity innocuous whites. It seems like that is all in the past.
The newest vintages of Žilavka are full in body and have salty, savory notes with substantial texture. Some producers like Marjanović and Škegro macerate the grapes to extract even more flavor. Others that barrel ferment or barrel age their Žilavkas are dialing back on the oak, resulting in wines with more balance.
Wine Recommendations: Marjanović Žilavka Selekcija 2018, Vino Milas Žilavka 2018, Škegro Krš Orange Žilavka 2017, Vilinka X-Line Cuvée Red 2015, Brkić Plava Greda 2017, Carska Vina Blatina 2017
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Thanks to WineOS who provided entrance and accommodation. The opinions expressed in this article are unsolicited and have not been paid for in any way by governmental bodies, enterprises, or individuals. We do not sell editorial content as that would destroy the legitimacy of our reviews and the trust between Exotic Wine Travel and its readers. On occasion, we extend the option of purchasing the wines we review or/and the products we spotlight. Some of these product links are set up through affiliate programs, which means Exotic Wine Travel gets referral credits if you choose to purchase these items via the links we provide.