Škrlet žuti, also called just škrlet, is an indigenous white wine variety from the region of central Croatia, Moslavina and other winemaking hills around the rivers Kupa and Sava (around Popovača, Kutina and Ivanić grad). The name has quite a complicated story, how it came to be, and it has to do with specific reddish dots on the side of the ripe grapes that were facing the sun and the German word for the scarlet fever (and it is pronounced so that it sounds similar to the English word “scarlet”!). The first mention of the variety in Croatian, and we rarely have specific dates of those, is in 1854 in a newspaper leaflet following the wine exhibition held in Zagreb.
The grapes are prone to different problems related to the weak pollination, and when the
pollination is complete the yield is quite high, but that happens rarely and requires a lot of work in the vineyard in the spring. The wine is usually bright yellow, with an almost green hue, and it’s possible to create high-quality wines from the grapes that are on the southern slopes and get a lot of sun during the summer (obviously, the region where škrlet is growing is much less sunny than, say, south of Dalmatia or the islands there). Those grapes will manage to accumulate a decent amount of sugar in a good year, and the acidity of the wine will always be quite high. Since the sugars in the grapes are not too high, neither is the alcohol content of the wine, which is usually in the neighbourhood of 10%. It is obvious that such a wine is refreshing, easy-drinking wine, well rounded with an acidy flavour, somewhat flowery and discreet varietal aroma, reminiscent of apples, pears and vanilla. It is not a wine that needs a lot of aging, and should ideally be drunk before the next harvest.
You can have it as afternoon refreshment on its own, or enjoy it with some freshwater fish, light meat dishes and pasta. Škrlet producers, especially in Moslavina, have created an association that is working on improving the quality and recognisability of their wine, and along with the scientists working on improving the genetic material being planted. Some of the most notable producers of škrlet are Miklaužić (this winery is making a sparkling wine with škrlet as one of the “ingredients”), Trdenić and Mikša. The price of this wine in the wine shops and if you find yourself on Moslavina wine road is quite competitive, so give škrlet a try if you get the chance!