Zagreb has a new place for all who want to enjoy very good or even expensive Italian, French, German or Croatian wine, but cannot afford a bottle. Sommelier Jelena Šimić Valentić has made a name for herself through entertaining and educational courses within the Pupitres Wine Culture Boutique, teaching about wine while tasting superior labels from around the world. She has now opened the Pupitres Bar in the centre of Zagreb, where great wines are offered per glass at a quite favourable price.
It is possibly the only place in the region where a glass of champagne can be had for 65 kunas.
“And we pour a lot of it. In four days we spent 30 bottles of champagne. I like to drink them so I am glad when others do too. I formed the prices so people can afford them. I would rather earn less per bottle and pour many, than to spend one per week,” Jelena says.
The Taittinger Prelude Grands Crus Brut is the champagne of the house. The list contains the most popular names of the Champagne, such as Dom Perignon, but also the cult Jacques Selosse Initial Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut.
Among the still wines are all important global and Croatian regions, and the list of domestic wines have some less known names, such as Franković from Istria, Fiolić from the Zadar area and Violić from Pelješac. There is also the Grk Bire, one of the most wanted, but least available domestic wines. The winery in Lumbarda on Korčula Island does not allow a purchase of more than two at a time, and Pupitres allows for three glasses.
No sense in listing more wines as Jelena insists the labels will constantly change.
“I now have 248 labels. In a month they may be 100, in a year 500. It will all depend on how guests embrace certain wines,” she announced. Every Monday some of the wines will be recommended and served with an entire story about the variety, producer, region… When one is spent, which sounds better than sold, new ones will be recommended. Thus all wines will get their turn.
“I don’t want a wine archive. I want them to circulate, not just to sell them faster, but also for the guests to know they will have something new waiting for them. So they can say: ‘Let’s go see what Jelena recommends today,’” she says.
Jelena went into catering during her studies. She waited tables to survive, but she liked the atmosphere. She completed all three levels of education at the Croatian Sommelier Club and moved from good to better restaurants. Motherhood turned her life around. She wanted more time for the family, something a sommelier in someone else’s restaurant cannot count on, so she founded the Pupitres Wine Culture Boutique and began educating wine amateurs, but also professionals. The bar is the next level, and she will continue to hold courses in it.
It seems Zagreb wine lovers have recognised it as a place to spend some pleasant time. In the late afternoon of a rainy workday it was more than half full. Five ladies enjoyed themselves at a large table, and several couples sat around smaller ones, tasted wines and conversed silently. In the evening, Jelena says, the place is full no matter what day it is or the weather. And so be it, let people enjoy, because as the Pupitres Bar wall states, wine is joy.
For the original and more from Vino.hr blog on wine, click here.