New Shipment of Wines from Croatia!
Croatian wines available in the United States.
Croatian wines available in the United States.
For the past year we have been importing and selling a very unique Bordeaux-style wine from Croatia, produced by the Josić winery. We were thrilled when we read a review of this wine on one of our favorite blogs: Strong Coffee to Red Wine. With permission, we are excerpting Rick Dean’s evocative write-up on one of our very favorite Croatian wines.
I found this bottle on Topochines.com, an online wine retailer. I was drawn to them because of their selection of wines from Croatia. The shop also carries smaller offerings of wines from Italy, Spain, France, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and the USA. In 2019 they are adding 8-9 wines from Portugal. The offerings are unique no matter the country of origin, so I’m sure I will be sampling many others as well.
But it was this wine that I most wanted to try. All of the others are from indigenous grapes to Croatia but this one is a blend of recognizable, international grape varieties and I thought that would be a good place to start. The few wines from indigenous grapes are waiting for me in the cooler.
This wine is more accurately an International Red Blend with 35% Cabernet Franc, 35% Syrah, 30% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is the use of Syrah that is not considered a Bordeaux varietal that makes this more of an international blend. Regardless of who’s blend it is, it is flipping delicious.
The color is deep purple. The wine is bone dry with medium-plus acid. The tannins are soft and lingering. The nose is an explosion of aromas. Never have I smelled so much in a wine before. Dried figs predominate followed by bing cherries. Next is the burn of alcohol and a bit of caramel. After a second swirl came sandalwood, sawdust and chocolate covered cherries. And finally, some cooked black fruits. This was such an exceptional smelling experience. I could have kept my nose in the glass for hours.
The flavors on the palate were a bit closed off but enjoyable all the same. Mostly was stewed black fruits like prunes and figs; followed by mild licorice and dark chocolate. The finish was lingering with the soft tannins reasserting themselves.
I am thrilled with this wine and am so glad I chose to make the purchase. I look forward to the wines from Croatia’s indigenous grapes later this winter.
This wine sells for $31.00 on Topochines.com.
If you are not already a subscriber, we strongly recommend that you check out Rick’s blog here: http://strongcoffeetoredwine.com/
Those that are interested in buying this wine can do so at www.topochines.com. Enter discount code Wine10 for a 10% discount on the Josić Ciconia Nigra Cuvee or any of our other wines.
December 22, 2018
Back in mid-2016 we connected via Twitter with The Vinum, an Italian winery located in the small town of Ortona in the Abruzzo wine region. As it turns out, my husband was planning a surprise Europe trip for the two of us and he arranged for us (to my total surprise) to meet the husband and wife that own the winery. On the rooftop restaurant at the famous Danieli hotel in Venice, overlooking the Grand Canal, we had a fantastic meal and enjoyed some of their wines. This dinner inspired us to start importing The Vinum wines to the United States. As we looked over their portfolio, one of the wines that caught our eye was their 2016 Montepulciano D’Abruzzo DOC, a dry, rich and juicy red wine.
2016 The Vinum Montepulciano D’Abruzzo DOC
This wine, produced from 100% Montepulciano grapes, is referred to affectionately at The Vinum as “Il Rosso” – the red wine. Made from organic grapes grown on The Vinum’s estate vineyards, this is a powerhouse wine. Our tasting notes: Visually this wine is stunning, dark, almost inky, with a silky appearance when swirled. On the nose, wild berries meld together with earth in this solid savory red. The juicy straightforward palate doles out ripe black cherry, crushed raspberry, anise and cinnamon alongside chewy tannins. This wine has a lush, almost syrupy mouthfeel.”
10% discount available to our readers – simply enter Wine10 at checkout. Our wine store is here: Topochines Vino Web Store
For those that are less familiar with Montepulciano, we recommend a visit to the excellent wine site below to learn more about this grape and what foods pair best with it.
A link to the article is here: About Montepulciano.
Here are some interesting excerpts from that article:
We hope you check out our wine store and consider getting a bottle of The Vinum Montepulciano.
October 24, 2018
In December of 2017 we started selling Croatian wine on our online wine store Topochines Vino Wine Store. In a few short months we sold out our entire inventory of Croatian wines, most of them produced from indigenous grapes but a few stellar labels using international varietals. Sadly, we sold out our last couple of bottles right before the commencement of the World Cup and did not have any supply to help our Croatian-American friends celebrate Croatia’s improbable and inspiring run to the Finals. Today, our warehouse is bursting with Croatian wines – some of the favorites from our initial shipment, but we have expanded our offering to include a number of new varietals, styles (e.g.,we now have several sparkling wines), and some classic Croatian wine producers.
Below is a breakdown of our shipment, “by the numbers”:
For those already familiar with Croatian wines, this portfolio will contain many known producers and some traditional wine styles and varietals. As noted above, we have 10 different Plavac Mali selections available from multiple vineyard locations and appellations. Croatian wine newbies would do well to start with any of these Plavac Mali wines as this varietal is as close to a “national” wine as you can get in Croatia.
For those that prefer white wine, we have several wines made from Croatia’s indigenous Posip grape, one of our favorite varietals because it produces such an aromatic, full-bodied wine.
While we have great appreciation for classic varietals and more well-known wineries, we have to admit to having a soft spot for unique blends, creative wine-making styles, and downright batshit crazy inventions. Our latest shipment covers this entire gamut; here are some highlights:
Griffin Sparkling Rosé – $29.00
Okay, you’re thinking, what’s so unique or creative about a sparkling Rosé wine? Well, that’s not the interesting part. What makes this wine stand out from the crowd is the underlying varietal: Portugiser. This varietal is very aromatic and has lots of fruit flavor on the palate. In many white wines, aroma and flavor are lost during the fermentation process and it can be difficult to enjoy the varietal’s characteristics. However, winemaker Ivancic Griffin uses cryogenic maceration prior to fermentation to slow the process and preserve color, aroma and flavor. We haven’t had a sparkling Rosé like this one – it’s delicious!
Griffin Dark Side Sparkling – $33
This is by far the darkest sparkling wine we have ever seen, let alone consumed. When we first tried it in The Basement Wine Bar in Zagreb, Croatia, it was described as “Black Champagne.” Also made from the Portugiser grape, this sparkling wine is ridiculously aromatic and retains the flavor characteristics of the varietal almost as if it were a still wine. Cryogenic maceration prior to fermentation is also used with this sparking wine.
2017 Feravino “Dika” Graševina – $15
Chance are you’ve never had a wine from this obscure varietal before, even though it accounts for about a quarter of every wine bottles sold in Croatia. At $15 a bottle, what are you waiting for? If you knew how much it cost for us to transport this wine (a) by truck from the winery, (b) to a consolidator’s warehouse in Italy, (c) to be placed on a large container vessel, (d) to cross the ocean to New York City, (e) to get on another truck to cross the United States and (f) arrive in our Napa warehouse – well, you’d wonder how we only charge $15. Suffice it to say we’re just about giving this wine away. Feravino’s take on this varietal is crisp, refreshing, a nice blend of fruit and acidity. This is a very aromatic wine with lots of fruit and flower on the nose.
2015 Feravino “Miraz” Frankovka – $17
We expect that Frankovka will also be a new varietal to most people, although extreme wine geeks may know it by its other name, Blaufränkisch. This is a rich and powerful wine.
Okay, these wines are unique, right? Are you ready for “batshit crazy”? How about a wine that ages under the Adriatic sea and has to be deposited and collected by scuba divers?
2012 Edivo Plavac Mali “Navis” – $149
You probably have some questions about this wine. Like, what’s that on the bottle? It’s what you would expect to be on a bottle that has been under the sea aging for a couple of years – barnacles and other sea stuff. You might wonder if this wine tastes salty. Because this wine is not cheap, we only allowed ourselves to “steal” one bottle out of our inventory, but I swear I could smell and taste salinity when the bottle was opened. After decanting this sensation dissipated and the wine was truly exceptional. This is a bottle for real wine geeks who want to try something 100% unique.
We hope this gives you a sense for some of the really interesting wines we have for sale and whets your appetite to go to the website and try some. Readers of this post can purchase any of the Croatian wines at a 10% discount by entering “Wine10” at checkout. This discount code will apply to wines from any other country as well. Cheers!
August 20, 2018
We recently encountered a travel company that has the type of experience in Croatia and surrounding countries that we wish we knew about when we planned our first trip there. www.AdriaticTours.com. Read to the bottom for contact information and to obtain a discount on their services for being a Topochines Vino reader!
Some travel is less intimidating than others. For instance, if we travel to other states in the U.S., this is generally not intimidating because the currency stays the same, everyone speaks the same language, no visa or passport is required, and most of the hotels and airlines are well-known to us. Traveling outside of the U.S. can be more intimidating, but much of Europe feels manageable because of the single currency (Euro), the well-known landmarks (Eiffel Tower, Grand Canal in Venice, Colosseum in Rome, etc.), and the availability of literally hundreds of tour companies and guide books available to make any trip worry-free.
When we decided to go to Croatia at the end of 2016, though, the intimidation factor was pretty high despite the destination being a European country. Although they joined the EU in 2013, Croatia has yet to adopt the Euro as its currency; the Kuna is still its currency of record. Further, our familiarity with the local language is as close to zero as you can get, and their alphabet has a number of unique letters and characters that really threw us off. While there are an increasing number of tourists going to Croatia – drawn by their beautiful beaches, their affiliation with Game of Thrones, and the relatively economical cost of travel – travel resources are not as deep as they would be for Spain, France, Italy or other popular continental destinations.
When we planned our trip, we did so without any assistance beyond what we were able to find out using Google and reading travel blogs. So much of what we read turned out to be nonsense, including the dangers of traveling by car (crooked police pull over foreigners rampantly and give them tickets, while locals pretend to have car trouble and rob tourists who pull over to help). We were literally traveling blind, though, because we did not have much reliable information about the places we wanted to visit or stay. In the end, we managed to have a fantastic trip but we realized that we missed so many beautiful places because, well, we just didn’t know better.
We recently came across a travel company that we wish we had known about when we were planning our first-ever visit to Croatia: Adriatic Travel, started over 44 years ago by Niko Hazdovac, a native of Croatia who moved to the United States. After a career as a merchant marine officer, Niko started Adriatic Travel to provide those with Croatian ancestry a reliable way to visit their homeland or the homeland of their parents and grandparents. Today, Adriatic Travel is still a family run travel agency with deep roots in Croatia as well as surrounding countries.
Adriatic Travel has a wide range of services and experiences for travelers looking to soak in everything Croatia has to offer. For those that prefer to cruise, they offer trips on both sailing ships as well as motorized vessels. Examples of their cruises include:
A full list of their Adriatic sea cruises can be found here: Sea Cruises.
For those desiring a bit more adventure on the seas, Adriatic Travel also offers charter cruises priced by the week for small groups of a dozen or so. Longer charter trips come with captain, sailing crew, chef, and waiters to provide a luxurious on-water experience. “Bareboat” charters – those with no crew – are available for those that are bold enough to commandeer their own vessel. Adriatic Travel can set up many different craft charters from catamaran, sail boats, speedboats, and more. More information on their charters can be found here: Charter Cruises.
Of course, not everyone wants to travel by boat when they visit Croatia, especially given the number of sights on land and inland. For travelers who would like to explore the cities in more depth, visit wineries, and tour some of Croatia‘s stunning national parks, Adriatic Travel offers escorted land tours. Some of the most intriguing for us are:
A complete list of planned excursions are here: Escorted Tours
When we traveled to Croatia we managed to visit Slovenia (for a few hours) and Bosnia & Herzegovina (for two days). Unfortunately, we missed Montenegro and Serbia; next visit we will make sure to visit both countries as we have heard amazing things about them.
In addition to the various tours and excursions we have mentioned, Adriatic Travel also offers assistance with air reservations, car reservations, and one-way transfers and private excursions with driver. We rented our own car but we have to say it would have been much more convenient (and safe!) to have taken advantage of an excursion to visit wine country.
If you are thinking of making a trip to Croatia or any of the Balkan countries (Slovenia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia), consider Adriatic Travel. You can contact Peter Hazdovac at firstname.lastname@example.org. Friends of Topochines Vino will receive $100.00 off per person when they book any tour or cruise with Adriatic Travel. Let us know if you are planning to travel to Croatia or if you already have we would love to hear about your experience.
John & Irene Ingersoll
April 10, 2018
This is the third and final installment in our series on the superior Lodi wineries that we visited over the course of a weekend last month. We published our three-part series in the chronological order of our winery visits. We were so impressed with Lodi that we have added wine from three wineries to our online web store, www.topochines.com.
It surprised us to hear that there is a winery in Lodi making outstanding wines exclusively from Spanish varietals. We wouldn’t have guessed it from the name: Bokisch Vineyards. After all, Bokisch is as Spanish as, well, Ingersoll (our name). It turns out that Bokisch Vineyards’ co-founder, Markus Bokisch, is half-Spanish on his mother’s side. Our mother/mother-in-law (Mamá) is also from Spain. This shared upbringing – spending time in Spain during summers and holidays with aunts, uncles and cousins – was one of the things that motivated us to visit Bokisch. That, and recommendations from over a dozen wine experts imploring us to add Bokisch to our Lodi itinerary.
Our host for the Bokisch tour and tasting was co-founder Liz Bokisch, wife of the aforementioned Markus. She greeted us as we came in and spent nearly two hours telling us the Bokisch story, giving us a visual tour of the vineyards, and sharing their portfolio with us. We started our tasting with Albariño, a classic Spanish wine common to the Rias Baixas region in the northwestern province of Galicia. We had side-by-side tastings of two different Albariño wines – the 2016 Terra Alta Vineyard and the 2016 Las Cerezas Vineyard. Although made from grapes sourced from vineyards just a few miles from each other, these two wines were by no means identical. The Terra Alta version was a bit more crisp, having aged 100% in stainless steel. The Las Cerezas, meanwhile, saw some time in oak which yielded a softer mouthfeel and a longer, rounded finish.
We continued on with the white wines and sampled some delicious wines made from grapes indigenous to Spain. Our next wine was the 2016 Garnacha Blanca from Vista Luna Vineyard. Many wine drinkers have encountered this grape varietal as Grenache Blanc, common to the Rhône region in France; however, the varietal is native to Spain. Bokisch’s Garnacha Blanca is very light in color, with aromas of apple and stone fruits, and flavor of apple and pear.
Our next two wines were made from grapes that sound very similar but are genetically distinct: Verdehlo and Verdejo, the former a classic Portuguese grape, the latter the star of Spain’s Rueda wine region. We enjoyed both wines but the Verdejo was a real revelation to us, perhaps because we were expecting a simple, crisp, refreshing white wine. Of course, the Bokisch 2016 Verdejo was all of these things, but so much more. In addition to the expected aroma and flavor of citrus and stone fruit, the wine was more full-bodied than we expected with a nuttiness on the palate. We attribute this more complex aroma and flavor profile to the fact that the wine was aged in new French and Acacia barrels. While most white wines are best consumed within a couple of years of purchase, we believe the Bokisch Verdejo is capable of ageing due to its structure and complexity.
After making our way through the Bokisch white wines, it was finally time to turn our attention to their roster of vino tinto. In our opinion, Tempranillo is the king of all Spanish red grape varietals, although we are biased by the fact that Mamá only liked wine from Rioja. However, Liz blew us away with two of their other reds, the 2014 Bokisch Garnacha and the 2014 Bokisch Graciano. Wine aficionados will know that in the past couple of years Garnacha/Grenache have become popular red wines, both for their flavor as well as their relatively low prices. This Bokisch take on Garnacha was true to the Spanish expression: lovely rose and strawberry aromatics complemented by a bit of spice. On the palate the strawberry was complemented by cranberry and raspberry and a spicy finish. Certainly Mamá would not approve of our saying this, but Garnacha is currently our favorite red wine.
Our next Bokisch red wine was a single-varietal wine made from the Graciano grape, which is not so common in the U.S. but a key grape in Spain’s Rioja region. Because of its deep color and intense flavor, Graciano most often finds itself blended in with Tempranillo in Rioja’s highest quality wines and contributes to their ability to age. Recently, some bodegas in Rioja have started making single-varietal wines from Graciano. After tasting the 2016 Bokisch Graciano, we are looking forward to sampling some 100% Graciano when we go to Rioja later this Spring.
The first thing that captured our attention when Liz poured the Graciano was its color. Often wine notes will refer to a wine as “inky,” but usually that means darker purple. This Bokisch Graciano really is inky – a dark and brooding color. On the nose, there were no red fruits, just more darkness – blackberry, plum, coffee, dark chocolate. On the palate, the fruit was balanced beautifully with acidity with strong tannins leading to a long finish. We like to think that Mamá would have enjoyed this wine as it resembles the strong, masculine, dry Rioja wines that she loved the most.
Our final Bokisch red wine was the 2014 Tempranillo, a faithful representation of this Rioja varietal and a wine that we are sure Mamá would have enjoyed, albeit grudgingly.
Dark ruby in color, the Bokisch Tempranillo presented aromas of cherry, plum, cedar and a hint of clove. On the palate, dark fruits mixed with earth, resulting in a more balanced Tempranillo than we have encountered from other U.S. wineries. Having spent 18 months in new American and French oak, the wine has a luscious, almost silky texture without tasting over-oaked.
After we made our way through what seemed like the entire portfolio of Bokisch wines, Liz let us know that they have a second label (Tizona) that features wines that are not native to the Iberian peninsula. Markus and Liz wanted to keep the Bokisch label purely focused on Spanish wines, but also wanted to offer wines that are more classically Lodi. We tasted a Tizona Zinfandel that was rich, structured, balanced, and a fantastic addition to the Zinfandel offerings in Lodi. We also tasted the Bokisch 2016 Late Harvest Graciano, a ridiculously good dessert wine that we also purchased and consumed almost immediately after arriving home.
A hallmark of a great winery – and winemaker – is when the portfolio of wines smell and taste consistent. This consistency comes from having a specific approach to viticulture and enology: how to tend the grapes; when to pick; yeast inoculation protocol; and ageing. Markus Bokisch is in charge of the grape growing for the 80-acre estate parcel that surrounds the winery and he has consistent practices for how he tends his vines. 100% of the Bokisch Vineyards are certified organic as well as sustainable; in fact, Markus Bokisch provides vineyard management services on over 2,800 acres of vines within 5 of the Lodi Sub-AVAsand Clarksburg AVAs. Many of these vineyards have been or are being converted to organic-certified. Complementing Markus’ organic farming practices are winemaker Elyse Perry’s hands-off approach in the cellar. Her respect for each grape varietal is evident in the fact that the Bokisch Spanish wines resemble their Spanish counterparts in their aroma, flavor and texture.
John & Irene Ingersoll March 20, 2018
We are in the process of adding three Bokisch wines to our online wine store, www.topochines.com. We will publish an update when these wines are available.
One of the top wineries in Lodi, Acquiesce Winery.
There are dessert wines . . . . and then there is Moscato D’Asti. At just 5.5% alcohol, this fizzy, lightly-carbonated wine is the perfect companion to almost any dessert. Made from 100% Moscato Bianci grapes, this wine has been a hit with everyday wine drinkers as well as trained wine experts (including one of the world’s few Master Sommeliers).
2016 The Vinum Moscato D’Asti DOCG
If you’re thinking, “Oh, I’ve had Moscato before,” we have to point out that this is not just Moscato, but Moscato D’Asti. Here are our tasting notes: Light straw in color with a pleasantly frothy mousse of tiny bubbles. Incredible aromas of orange blossoms, white peaches and rose on the nose. Mouthwatering apricot and mineral flavors. Weightless, vibrant, refreshing.”
For our readers, we are offering 15% off this or any of our wines – simply enter Friends15 at checkout. Our online wine store is here: Topochines Vino Web Store
Piedmont is perhaps best-known for its Nebbiolo vineyards and the famous wines made from them – Barolo and Barbaresco. However, the region does produce other high quality wines, one of which is Langhe Rosso. Our partner The Vinum winery sources grapes from small growers in Piedmont to produce this luscious wine.
2010 The Vinum Langhe Rosso DOC
This is the third Piedmont red wine from The Vinum that we offer on our site, Topochines Vino. While the Barbaresco and Barolo are 100% Nebbiolo, this Langhe Rosso is an inventive blend of two traditional Piedmont grapes – Nebbiolo and Barbera. Together, these two varietals create an elegant, full-bodied wine with an impressive finish. This 2010 wine is ageing beautifully and certainly ready to drink now. Here are our tasting notes: “On the nose, aroma of ripe blackberry, raspberry and red cherry with a hint of vanilla. The explosion comes in the mouth, where it is open, full-bodied, and velvety. The elegance of the two varietals combines beautifully to deliver a strong finish.”
We are offering a 15% discount to our readers – simply enter Friends15 at checkout to get the discount on this or any of our other wines. Our wine web store is here: Topochines Vino Web Store
Our partner the Vinum produces some very high quality Italian wines from their estate vineyards in Abruzzo as well as from grapes sourced from small producers in other wine regions. This 2015 Chianti Superiore DOCG is a classic Tuscan wine made from grapes grown in Fiesole, high in the hills above Florence.
2015 The Vinum Chianti Superiore DOCG
A 100% Sangiovese, this wine is made from organic grapes and only produced in years in which The Vinum team believes the grapes are of sufficient quality. Simply put, this Tuscan wine is super. Here are our tasting notes: “Ruby-red color with a garnet rim, this wine’s bouquet displays ample aromas of rasberry, violet, wild berries, tobacco, chocolate, and vanilla. On the palate is rich, full-bodied, and velvety.”
A 15% discount on this or any of our wines is available to our readers – simply enter Friends15 at checkout. Our online wine store is here: Topochines Vino Web Store
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