The Grapes of Croatia: Zeleni silvanac

By , 28 Oct 2016, 20:49 PM Grapes

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Zeleni Silvanac is another one of the white wine variety favourites in continental Croatia that has been cultivated in the area for a very, very long time. It is one of the oldest known wine varieties in Europe, and the exact location where it originated is not known, so it’s considered to be a Central-European indigenous variety. In the past it was one of the most abundant varieties in Germany, Austria (where it’s called “Sylvaner”) and Slovakia. Recently it’s getting replaced by other varieties because Zeleni Silvanac is very prone to many diseases and sensitive to conditions – so it takes an almost perfect year to allow for good quality grapes with significant yield.

One interesting fact about Zeleni Silvanacis that the recent genetic investigations have shown it to be the mix of two well known varieties, Traminac and Belina Velika Bijela. Belina is sometimes also known as Belina Starohrvatska, in France it’s called Gouais Blanc and it’s probably one of the oldest wine varieties in Europe, proven to be the ancestor to over 50 known varieties, of which Chardonnay is the best known one. So, we can say that Zeleni Silvanac and Chardonnay are first cousins, although Zeleni Silvanac is much less appreciated and grown.

In Croatia, it is grown Slavonia mostly, and vineyards in the Orahovica region probably have the best set of conditions and the best terroir to produce the best possible Zeleni Silvanac wines. The wine is very mild, light and with accented acids, most often dry and in the best of years it is capable of creating complex aromas of green apples and grapefruit. The colour of the wine is a wonderful bright-yellow with green hue, and its freshness makes it an excellent wine for afternoon drinking on its own, or along freshwater fish, light white meat or different types of pasta. Its alcohol content is usually around 13, 14 %, and it should be consumed cooled down to 10 to 12 °C.

PP Orahovica Zeleni Silvanac is a rare Croatian premium quality Silvanac, it has received many awards in the past in Croatia and abroad (even in China!), and is the wine that most Croatian people associate with the variety. On the really good years, when the quality of grapes is extraordinary, they even make the sweet version of Silvanac, after a late harvest. Badel makes Zeleni Silvanac “Nespeš”, from their vineyard near Zelina, Kolarić has a vineyard of Silvanac near Jastrebarsko, Režek, Cmrečnjak and Jakopić make it in Međimurje and Čobanković produces it all the way East, in Ilok (as well as Jasna Antunović in Erdut, one of the rare Croatian female winemakers). So, if you’re a fan, you can probably taste different wines made in different winemaking regions of Croatia, and determine what your favourite is: Silvanac wine is usually quite affordable in Croatian stores.

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