Antunović, Banko, Benvenuti, Fakin, Franković, Jakopić and Orahovica are seven dwarfs in the great wine world, who became giants through a sudden transformation, such as the ugly duckling becoming a swan. Their wines won 95 points at this year’s rating of British magazine Decanter, one of the largest and most influential in the world, with over 17.200 samples received. Those 95 points are enough for a gold medal, and three of the wines – Premium Graševina 2013 by Jasna Antunović from Dalj, sweet Graševina 2015 of the Međimurje family Jakopić and the Teran 2013 by the Motovun family Benvenuti – were declared in additional rating as the best in their categories, which brought them an automatic platinum medal.
Wines La Prima 2015, a Malvazija by the Fakin family, also from Motovun; the Malvazija 2016 by the Poreč family Banko; Luna d’Oro 2015, a sweet Muškat by the Franković family from Buje and the Green Silvaner Jezerinac 2015 from Orahovica are “only” golden.
Croatian wines won another 35 silver medals, 60 bronzes and 20 commendations. Wines from coastal Croatia won 77 medals, and 45 went to the continent. 53 of those went to Istria, among them one platinum and three gold. This is a triumph of the most advanced and quality-balanced Croatian wine region, the only which has a realistic, not only declarative support of local politics and an association functioning well in the field, not only on paper. As for wineries, Belje won eight awards; Badel 1862 has 6; wineries Fakin, Matošević and Veralda five; Clavis, Galić, Ilok Cellars, Kutjevo, Laguna and Tomaz have 4 each, of various shine.
Among the winners of 3 awards, too many to list here, a new name is the Clavis company from the Belaj village in the Cerovlje district in central Istria. They won a bronze for the Dvorac Belaj Selection Chardonnay 2014 wine, and commendations for the Dvorac Belaj Chardonnay 2015 and Ksenija Malvazija 2015. According to information published on eurokonzalting.com, they have 5.68 hectares of vineyards, they grow Malvazija, Chardonnay, Muškat Blanc and Pinot Gris, and they received over 1.6 million kunas of non-refundable money from the European Union to raise vineyards and obtain agricultural mechanisation and equipment. Their primary business activity is production of grapes and sale of wine on the international market, and hopefully they will present awarded wines to Croatian wine lovers.
In terms of the shine of awards, the largest winner is certainly the Motovun winery Fakin. For years they have been in the shadow of the renowned neighbour Tomaz and the even more famous Benvenuti family from Kaldir, a place on a hill within gun range of Motovun. Their wines are, as they explain so well, a combination of experience, devotion and a long family tradition. Besides the gold for Malvazija La Prima, they won silvers for Teran Il Primo 2015 and Malvazija 2015, as well as bronzes for Teran 2016 and Teran Michel 2015.
The question is can this abundant harvest of awards be used for a stronger position of Croatian wines in the world, and the answer is more or less simple: it cannot. Most of the awarded wines are not available in quantities suitable even for the Croatian market, let alone for export. Winemakers, even if they wanted to head out into the world, lack the money, and the state does not help. We could make this happen if we had a company like Austrian Wine Marketing, consortiums such as those in Tuscany and Piedmont or councils such as those promoting winemakers in French regions. Their job is to notify the world of wines of their members and protect them from competition. We generally lack that kind of care.
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