Written by Saša Špiranec
The first wines of a harvest usually appear first on the market by the end of the same year, in less than three months, and are often categorized as young wines. It is interesting they are usually red wines, while whites arrive a few weeks later. In Croatia the front-runner is usually the bitter and juicy Portugieser, going really well with roasted chestnuts. In the rest of Europe the first wine on the market is the Italian Novello, whose official release date is October 30, with a rather loose regulation in terms of fermentation process and variety. After Novello on each third Thursday in November comes the French Beaujolais Nouveau, a young wine from the Gamay variety produced in carbon maceration which entices juiciness, fruitiness and softness in wine, but shortens its lifespan. Croatia marks November 11, the day of St Martin or Martinje, as the day when must turns into wine, traditionally celebrated with numerous wine christenings.
Although the vine growing year begins in January, on St Vincent’s Day, most vine growers begin work with warmer weather. Preparations of vineyards for the new season begin with the pruning of vines. The usual drink on Matinje is white wine and it is actually not wine ready for the market, but is consumed incomplete mostly in the wineries directly from tanks and barrels. The first real, compelted wines not categorized as young wines and without a short lifespan of several months are on the market usually in Deceber and January and they are the first true indicator of the characteristics and quality of the last harvest. The process continues in February and March, the months when white wines are joined by rose wines, and the peak is in April and May when most of the wines from the past harvest, including red wines which are not aged in wooden barrels, arrive on the market.
After that cellars only hold ambitious wines, not more than 5% of the total global production, which can be kept from the market for a few more months or years. The first wines from the last harvest are not only an indicator of the harvest quality but are in style true heralds of spring. These are usually lighter, more aromatic, flaunting wines than the ones coming after them and actually go great with light spring dishes such as springtime risottos and pasta, young wild asparagus, oysters which are then in high season and other spring seasonal specialities.
Wines on the market that early are also often wines which should ideally be spent within a year. They are in full form during spring/summer, while in autumn their aromas and taste begin to fade. Domination is then taken over by wines which spent more time in the cellar, made from slightly more ripe grapes, with quite different aromas and a different, fuller and richer style. New, young wines are a thrill just like spring flowers, primroses and lilies. The first bring back colors into life, the second bring fresh aromas and awake energy. There are still not many 2017 wines on the market, a bigger wave is expected in the beginning of March, but we have scanned the current offer and singled out three wines whose appeal might mark the first spring days.
KOZLOVIĆ VALLE, 2017, 73 kn (Miva), 88/100
A brilliant, refreshing and lively wine for the coming spring/summer season. Made form 80% Malvazija and 20% Sauvignon. Moderate body, but intense scents and taste. Lightness and softness on the palate do not affect the aroma intensity or taste lingering, which makes it a perfect pair for asparagus past, for example. The nose is dominated by herbal scent, vineyard peaches and citruses. The mouth is dominated by freshness, intensity and searing minerality. Very fine. Besides the asparagus, functions as a perfect aperitif, together with various risottos and other spring pastas.
VOŠTINIĆ-KLASNIĆ, ŠKRLET 2017, 49 kn (Vintesa), 87/100
Škrlet as a variety should be the star of any intelligent wine list in the spring/summer season, as it usually offers, like in this case, a wonderfully delicate ratio of freshness and aroma, without the boasting of a Sauvignon and sharpness of a Riesling. It is of a bright and almost clear greenish color. Mild, with some 12% alcohol, seductive grape scent with a note of lime and summertime apple variety. Gentle taste, but impressive intensity and clarity, with a pleasant and mildly accented bitterness, fruitiness of citruses and mineral aftertaste. Unusually long lingering for such a light wine. Very fine. Ideal everyday wine.
GALIĆ, GRAŠEVINA 2017, 64 kn (Vrutak), 85/100
The new Galić Graševina is one of the gentler editions of this label yet. More modest in scent than usually, but the classic and recognizable Graševina aromas with associations of apples and herbs is clear. Taste is its largest quality, as the intensity and fullness puts it above the other two wines from this article which are mainly flaunty. Has a specific bitter finish which should make it function great as a food wine, ideal with a fish lunch with white fish such as gilt. Just like Valle, it will go well with asparagus pasta and spring risottos.
Translated from Jutarnji List.