Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Celebrate Martinje Virtually at the Croatian Embassy

November 11th (12th in the Eastern Church) is the Feast of St. Martin of Tours, and although he is the patron saint of France, St. Martin still receives devout reverence in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. He was born in Pannonia (present-day Szombathely, Hungary) in the early 4th century and after being baptized into the Catholic community and leaving the Roman army, Martin became a missionary in the provinces of Pannonia and Illyricum (now in the Balkan Peninsula).  Staying true to the Nicene Creed, he was forced out of Illyricum by the Arians and eventually returned to Gaul where he was made bishop of Tours.

During his years as Bishop, Martin nurtured an immense love for wine and began blessing the beverage in order to make it more popular among laypeople. Throughout Europe, this tradition has continued with winemakers giving thanks to St. Martin for a good harvest - and especially in Croatia, where Martinje celebrates the day that must, or young wine matures into wine fit for drinking.  But before indulging the wine must first be baptized and turned into chaste wine, since must is considered impure.

This year the Croatian Embassy in Washington D.C. along with Croatian Premium Wine Imports (CPWI) are celebrating Martinje through a virtual tasting on November 5th, 2020 at 6PM E.T.  The event will start with a conversation regarding the winemaking tradition and the blessing of the wine followed by a virtual wine tasting of wines from the Croatian Uplands, Istria and Dalmatia. The guests include the Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia, His Excellency Pjer Šimunovic, three-time Croatian National Champion and wine judge, Siniša Lasan, and the winemakers from Medimurje, Istria, and Dalmatia. They will be tasting two white and two red wines: Štampar Pušipel, Hažic Graševina, Ritoša Teran and Terra Madre Barrique Plavac Mali.

I will be participating in a little different scope. I will be comparing the Terra Madre Barrique Plavac Mali ($19) with the Wines of Illyria Plavac Mali ($20). The grapes are grown in a similar area -- the Komarna AVA in Croatia vs Herzegovina Bosnia. Plavac Mali wines are high in alcohol and tannins, has excellent aging capabilities, and is the offspring of Crljenak Kastelanski (Tribidrag - Zinfandel) and Dobricic. The latter is an ancient grape and may have been available during Martin's retreats to the Dalmatian coast.  Both Komarna and Herzegovina enjoy a Mediterranean climate with the Terra Madre grown directly on the Adriatic and the Illyria further inland from the sea between Mostar and Medugorje. 

Cheers to Martinje, Croatia, Herzegovina, and St. Martin of Tours. 

Note: Although it is too late to have the wines shipped to you in time for this event, CPWI will continue to honor through Saturday 11/7 a discount of 20% off for those wines. Go to CPWI, and when checking out enter the discount coupon code MARTINJE20 for home delivery to most states in the USA. Please allow about a week for delivery.

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