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A taste of Croatia

9 May

After winning 9 golds at the 2009 Decanter Awards Britain woke up to Croatian wine and realised that Eastern Europe has become the ‘new’ New World of winemaking, making wines to international standards.

Although Croatia is divided into four main geographical wine-growing regions we have concentrated primarily on wines from Istria, being most accessible both in terms of travel (less than 3 hours from Venice) and the British palate. To us heart-shaped Istria is the Provence of Croatia, a must visit destination according to Lonely Planet and Condé Nast Traveller Magazine, and Istrians consider their wine to be food for the soul.


Corkbin app users may not yet have tried a Croatian wine; some may want to dip in slowly and others may want to jump in at the deep end, so it seems reasonable to choose here a wine for those who want to be conservative and another for those who require instant drama.


Récolte Noire – Blanc De Noirs N.V., Dosnon & Lepage

26 Apr

I’m at the 2012 Champagne Bureau Tasting, and after a well staged and prolonged campaign I am in the throws of palate fatigue. It would takes something special to rally the troops now, and moving to the Dosnon & Lepage stand, this is exactly what I find.

On this vinous voyage so far, I have scaled the heights of La Montagne de Reims and spanned the breadth of La Vallée de la Marne, but with Dosnon and Lepage’s Récolte Noire, I now find myself in the uncharted district of the Aube, and more specifically La Côtes des Bar.

Sixty miles from Epernay and boasting no Premier or Grand Crus, the Aube is very much the black sheep of champagne that has strayed from the flock, and this is mirrored in the ethos of Dosnon & Lepage; a small boutique house very much penning their own script, and to understand the Récolte Noire, it is a story we must hear. (more…)


11 Apr

What do you need to produce a bottle of wine and bring it onto the market? The bare essentials are grapes, some yeast, fermentation vessels, and some bottles to put it in. Dimitri Brečević reckoned he had it all covered, when just weeks away from releasing his first vintage, it dawned on him that there was a problem: he had no labels and no branding.

A few phone calls later, and he’d tracked down one Sean Poropat, a designer based in Poreč, near his home village Buzet (Istria, Croatia). Sean took just one week to come up with a range of design options, from which the distinctive “Piquentum” branding was selected.

Although Brečević was raised in France, his father hailed from Istria (The Northerly part of Croatia butting up to Slovenia). Following a winemaking apprenticeship that took him from South-West France to Australia and New Zealand, Dimitri was keen to return to his fatherland and apply his winemaking knowledge back in Croatia. In 2006, the opportunity to purchase a disused army bunker near the village of Buzet presented Brečević with the chance he needed. Perfectly situated in the midst of vineyards, the bunker was also naturally cool – a real boon for winemaking. The only challenge was seeking planning permission to convert the ex-military facility into a winery – its existence had been so secret that the planning department initially denied that there was any building there at all! (more…)