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In June 2017, the inaugural Zagreb Bubbles festival was held in Croatia’s capital city. The Zagreb Bubbles is the first sparkling wine-themed event in Croatia. Over 100 sparkling wine producers, both domestic and international, participated in the event. The festival kicked off with a few days of peripheral programs and workshops, which led up to the main show on a Saturday afternoon.
Sparkling wine is becoming increasingly popular in Croatia. Croatian wine producers are utilizing both the Charmat method (think Prosecco) and classic method (think Champagne) to make their sparkling wines. For now, the Plešivica wine region is the king of Croatian sparkling wine with Ivančić, Korak, Šember, and Tomac leading the way. There are some solid examples coming out of Istria, Slavonia, and Dalmatia too. Teran from Istria shows a lot of promise as it is able to maintain searing acidity upon achieving great phenolic ripeness; this results in relatively intense, fuller sparkling rosé wines. Graševina from Slavonia and Pošip and Debit from Dalmatia are also capable of delivering unique sparkling wines. Overall, Croatian sparkling wines have shown capable of delighting wine lovers and at times deliver an entirely different sensory experience that thrills the wine geeks.
Here are a few of our favorite wines from Zagreb Bubbles.
Croatian Sparkling Wine
The Croatian wine scene has a new star! The Korak sparkling wines are truly commendable. Creamy texture with just a hint of brioche note. The purity and health of its fruit sing through the nose and palate. The structure is defined and tight. The bubbles are ooohhh so soft, persistent, and fine! We’re in love with these new bottlings of Korak and will be stocking them up at home.
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Another compelling wine from Roxanich. This is a sparkling rosé made from Teran grapes. This spent four years on the lees! The Teran gives dark fruit flavors, broadness, and earthy tone to the sparkler and makes it quite unlike others. As Teran is naturally high in acidity, we find it to be an excellent variety for making sparkling wines. The Teran sparklers we’ve tried offer ripeness, flavor intensity, yet without compromising on the crispness.
Another cracking French find at Zagreb Bubbles: Champagne Larmandier-Bernier Terre de Vertus Premier Cru 2011. Zero dosage, single-cru wine of 100% Chardonnay from 100% single vintage–no blending. Biodynamic producer who relies on native yeast for first fermentation. At least four years on lees before disgorgement. This is a cool kid. Nutty, fresh green herb, white flower, pear, and peach. Extremely creamy. Only the slightest hint of yeast; purity of fruit takes center stage. Amazing value for a under €40 Champagne.
One of the best wines served at Zagreb Bubbles event: Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2006. This is the top bottling of Taittinger. Whipped cream-like texture brings forth the weightless body of this wine. Coiled intensity of pure fruit notes–almond biscotti, nectarine, white chocolate, and lemon. Underlying floral tone. Amazing length. 2006 is tasting like it’ll eventually evolve and surpass other recent vintages.
Not going to pretend or be a smart ass, a still Prosecco is completely new to us and this is a great start! We’re absolutely hooked and can’t wait to explore more.
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2015 marks the first vintage of Ivančić Griffin’s Single Vineyard. It’s a field blend of Müller-Thurgau and Chardonnay; co-fermented. A wonderfully integrated wine yet you can taste specific characteristics of each of the variety. A refreshing wine that’s easy to drink yet teases for your attention with subtle nuances. A wine of duality. Highly recommended.
The Zagreb Bubbles program consists of several peripheral events, including a “Fine Wine Tasting” evening. At the fine wine event, we had the opportunity to sample several famous wines from around the world and also library selection from Croatian wine producers. We tasted a Korak Pinot Crni (Noir) from 2007 and the wine was showing incredible youthfulness and fruit-forwardness. A wine that could go on for another decade. While Korak is very much known as one of the grand masters of Croatian Pinot Noir, we say: don’t overlook Korak Syrah too!
Another interesting find at the Zagreb Bubbles’s fine wine event. Another fascinating wine imported by our friends at Hidden Wines! This causes split opinions–Charine adores this wine while Matt is indifferent. The 2011 Hartmann Dona Dona Noir comes from the Sudtirol area in Alto Adige. 100% Blauburgunder harvested from >20 year-old vines planted on steep slopes and at 500 meters above sea level. Spontaneous fermentation. Aged for 23 months in the barrel and 2 years in the bottle. This wine expresses exceptional drinkability and potential for long cellaring. Freshness, earth, spice, and intensity of fruit are expressed in complete harmony. If mellow happiness or quiet contentment has a taste, this should be it.
2010 Domaine Raymond Usseglio & Fils Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Imperiale. Among the people in our group, this is the star of the fine wine evening put together by Zagreb Bubbles. This wine should have been decanted for many hours before the show. But even when poured fresh from the bottle, the potential punches through the shy facade. 99 points by Robert Parker The Wine Advocate? No explanation required; every point flows towards every moment of the experience. Too young to drink, it’s all coiled up, yet nothing screams painful on the senses. No detailed tasting note. Just drink it to understand the meaning of a complete, fine wine.
Planning a trip to Croatia? Want to learn more about Croatian wine?
Our visitor-friendly wine travel guidebook to Croatia will be released this summer! It took us seven months to travel through Croatia and taste thousands of wines in order to produce this book. Check out Cracking Croatian Wine: A Visitor-Friendly Guide for more information.
You can learn more about Zagreb Bubbles on their website.
Matthew also reviewed a wine that we tasted at the show: Nusserhof Südtirol Lagrein Riserva 2010
The opinions expressed in this article are not associated with any sponsors or business promotions.