Winemakers Claim 2016 in Croatia was the Harvest of the Decade

Winemakers Claim 2016 in Croatia was the Harvest of the Decade

Zagreb, October 10, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

“The harvest went great. From the beginning of vegetation to end of harvest the weather conditions were ideal. So I believe the wines will be special,” wrote recently Frano Miloš, leading Pelješac winemaker whose Stagnums have been precisely reflecting their terroir for decades. After a very weak 2014 Croatian wines returned to form with a very good 2015 harvest. But, it seems 2016 is of significantly higher quality than the previous one. So for now we can call it the harvest of the decade, published on October 9, 2016.

We spoke with renowned winemakers from three of our wine regions (Istria, Slavonia and Danube area, Dalmatia), who all speak of the current harvest in superlatives. Franco Cattunar, a leading Istrian winemaker and winegrower who owns over 50 hectares of vineyards around Brtonigla, began harvesting his Malvasia on September 8 and the Terrano on September 20. Cattunar feels this year’s harvest was equally good for white and red sorts: “It is correct that the yield is 25 to 30 percent lower than last year, due to bad weather at the time of blooming.”

“However, when talking of the ratio of sugars and acids, this harvest is far more successful than the previous. Sugars are 20 percent higher than last year, while acids are up by six grams. Potential alcohol and acids are hence perfectly aligned this year. This occurred as there were less hot days and more cold nights. With such a temperature difference the vines suffered less stress than in 2015 when the days were too hot and the nights very warm. The temperature was also beneficial for the aroma. Due to all this when can say this harvest is for now the harvest of the decade. We hope to produce better, more balanced wines with more primary aromas.”

Vera Zima, chief enologist of Ilok Cellars, second largest eastern Croatian wine company, is also very satisfied with the current harvest. Zima told us the grapes are perfectly healthy, without na indication of mould or any other diseases: “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such healthy grapes,” emphasized the enologist who is currently overseeing the vinification of 6 million kilograms of grapes. “We began with the harvest of Traminer on September 5, then Chardonnay, then Graševina. We began early to preserve freshness.”

“Sugars rose from day to day, which in this harvest did not affect the decline of acids. On the contrary, acids in Graševina are around seven grams, which guarantees fresh, pure and aromatic wines. Sugars, however, grew so quickly that at the end of September we already had a late harvest of Traminer, at 110 oeschels! We left another four hectares of Traminer for electoral or ice harvests. We think the electoral harvest, considering the fast rate of sugar growth, will begin next week, while potential sugars for the ice harvest are hard to ponder. It is important to say that our red sorts for superior wines, Frankovka and Cabernet Sauvignon, are also coming along great. This harvest is one of the best I remember,” concluded Vera Zima.

Ivica Kovačević, director of Brač based Stina Vina, most important Dalmatian wine company, is equally enthusiastic. “The harvest on Brač belongs among the best since Stina exists. It is only our eight harvest, and the vegetation did not seem ideal… This summer there were unusually strong Bura winds, sometimes with gale force, which resulted in significant damage to the leaves and grapes, especially in the Grabice vineyard, where we planted Pošip and Vugava. The grapes are of excellent quality, with an optimal ratio of sugars and acids, with excellent aromas. When talking about Plavac, the harvest taking place on the southern slopes of Brač, is surely one of the best. The cellar is being filled with grapes of extra quality and condition, with an exceptionally high content of sugar and extract.”

“Even the acids are very good, especially since we know acids are probably the weakest link in Plavac. It may be too soon to conclude this is the harvest of the decade, but 2016 could certainly become that. The potential is there and we will do in the cellar everything to make the best possible wine form this truly exceptional harvest,” concluded Kovačević. It seems all Croatian winegrowing regions are dominated by optimism and excitement due to an excellent harvest, which could raise the quality of Croatian wine to another level. As time has come to for Croatian wine to be rated by harvests and not only producers, 2016 seems an ideal year to introduce a new approach to the evaluation of the Croatian wine industry.

Source: Total Croatia News