Thursday, July 22, 2021

Grape Spotlight: Slavonian Graševina with Krauthaker Winery

In a previous Grape Spotlight, we highlighted Hungarian Somlo Olaszrizling, a synonym of Welschriesling.  In reality, Welschriesling should be known as a synonym of Grasevina since the grape is most likely indigenous to Croatia and specifically Slavonia. "Welsch" translates to "foreign" eliminating Germany as the source and since the grape is rare in Italy, the Riesling Italico or the Italian Reisling translation from the Hungarian Olaszrizling could be just a mistaken identity during the Austrian-Hungarian empire. 

Graševina accounts for the largest percentage of wine production in Croatia at approximately 25% with over 8,000 hectares of planted vineyards.  The grape prefers moister environments with early warming vineyards and soils since it requires a long growing season. However, even in warmer climates, the grape is able to retain its acidity. 

In many cases, Graševina wines can be rather pedestrian (light and neutral), but in the best instances, distinct micro-climates allow for the development of complex expressions. That is the case in the cool yet sunny climate of Slavonia -- Croatia's breadbasket. This region encompasses Croatia's section of the Pannonian Basin and is bordered by the Danube, Drava, and Sava rivers.  The close proximity of these three rivers and the presence of the Krndija Mountain creates a microclimate that is particularly suitable for grape cultivation and especially for Graševina. "Požega Valley, as well as slopes of Krndija and Papuk hills, was recognized as a winegrowing land by the Illyrians, while the Cistercians, who arrived in the area at the beginning of the 13th century, founded a wine cellar in Kutjevo in 1232, the oldest wine cellar in Croatia today".  

The Slavonian town Kutjevo is still considered the center of Croatian winemaking and is located at the significant 45.3° North latitude  - shared with other distinguished wine areas such as the Rhone Valley, Bordeaux, Piedmont, Villány, and in the United States northern Michigan and Oregon. 

Krauthaker Vineyards and Winery is situated in the Kutjevo winegrowing region on the southern slopes of the Krndija Mountain. The winery cultivates grapes in several vineyard sites usually consisting of sandy and loamy soils atop sediment rocks. One such site is the Podgorje Kutjevo vineyard which is the source for their excellent Krauthaker 2019 Slavonija Graševina ($23) that I purchased through Croatian Premium Wine Imports. This wine is as far from pedestrian as you can get, full-bodied and floral with bright stone fruits and apples, finishing with refreshing acidity. It was consumed quite quickly among our family. 

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