The Best Croatian Sparkling Wine is – Bolfan Centurion Gold

By , 21 Dec 2017, 14:06 PM News
The Best Croatian Sparkling Wine is – Bolfan Centurion Gold Photo: Julio Frangen

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It is great. Taste lingers long in the mouth, it's creamy, soft and rounded. It has freshness, fruitiness and typical champagne aroma of brioche and especially fine pearling, wrote one of the best Croatian sommeliers Mario Meštrović of the Centurion Gold sparkling wine by the Bolfan Vinski Vrh winery from Hrašćina in Croatian Zagorje

It was the best sparkling at the largest rating yet of Croatian natural sparkling wines produced in the traditional method of a second fermentation in the bottle. Željko Suhadolnik, founder and chief editor of World in a Glass magazine, and myself, chose around thirty sparkling wines from Croatian highlands, Istria and Dalmatia, bringing together seven reviewers with strong experience at ratings in Croatia and abroad.

After four seasons of simultaneous ratings of wines of various colours and styles, this was the first specialized rating of the Wine Stars Club in a new system. A single type of wine was rated with the 100 points method of the International Department for Wine and Vines (OIV), based in Paris. Centurion Gold received 92 points, with four more sparklings taking gold, meaning 90 or more points. Golden sparklings were Anita Brut by the Kos family from Donja Zelina, Misal Prestige Extra Brut and Misal Blanc de Noirs by the Poreč family Peršurić and the Rosé Brut by the Tomac family from Plešivica.

The Bolfan Vinski Vrh winery, producers of Centurion Gold, is one of the loveliest in Croatia. Vineyards are on the south slope of a hill with a view of four mountains – Ivančica, Strahinjčica, Kalnik and Medvednica. They came to fame with their fine Sauvignons, also making excellent wines from Rhine Riesling and Pinot Noir. They have an ecological certificate, with owner Tomislav Bolfan a veritable biodynamics supporter, meaning he does not use artificial fertilizer or chemical protection, but produces himself everything he needs to nourish the soil and protect the vineyard.

Some 30 kilometres south of Bolfan, in the Hranjec village in Donja Zelina, is the winery of Željko Kos, producers of the second best sparkling. They are also known for Riesling and Pinot Noir, while their sparklings regularly win good grades and commendations. Their pink sparkling Rosula, based on Pinot Noir, won an impressive 88 points.

Excellent ratings for Istrian sparklings Misal are an homage to dr Đordan Peršurić, founder and long-time director of the Agriculture and Tourism Institute in Poreč, who started a family winery, the only in Croatia specialized in sparkling wines. Peršurić passed away in 2015, with his daughters Katarina and Ana continuing the family wine business. Successfully, it seems, according to Wine Stars ratings. Two of their sparklings are gold, and third fared quite well too. Misal Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature, made only from Chardonnay, took 88 points. The Tomac family did not specialize in sparklings, but they are a large passion. They were the first in the world to produce a sparkling from wine nourished in amphorae, declared by Decanter as one of the most exciting wines in the world. As it is an unusual type of wine, we did not list it in this rating, while their pink sparkling won gold with 90 points.

The white sparkling Diplomat lacked two points to reach the same level. Close to gold were also the Plešivica sparklings Korak Brut Nature, a novelty of the Šember family Pavel 2013 brut and Rosé brut, and old friend from the same cellar.

The best region for sparkling wines outside of Champagne is by many Franciacorta in Italian Lombardia. This title is held by Plešivica in Croatia, where almost all wineries produce sparkling wines. Several excellent producers are in Istria, with more and more in Zagorje and Međimurje. The first sparkling in the area was made in 1800 in Samobor.

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