One of my local wine stores, Hennings Wine Merchants of Chichester often holds wine tastings on Friday evenings. Each evening is usually themed on a specific wine region or wine. A couple of weeks ago they held a Croatian wine evening, and after having been to Croatia a few times and enjoyed the local wines, I decided to book to go with some friends and experience more of what Croatia has to offer the wine world.
The evening started at 19:00, and we arrived just before. We were shown upstairs to the tasting room which is above the shop. The room was laid out with tables and chairs in a horseshoe shape, and every place had a wine list showing all of the wines we were going to taste, with a price list and order form should we wish to purchase any. There were also platters of bread, cheese, pâté and olives to enjoy with our wines.
Although the evening was held at Hennings, they had invited a couple of Croatian wine experts, Trevor and Judith, to host the tastings. Trevor and Judith run a company called Pacta Connect, that imports Croatian wine into the UK. They spend half the year at their home in Brighton and half of the year in Croatia. They have built up long-term relationships with all the wine producers in Croatia, and if you want to visit any of the vineyards on a trip to Croatia, they will be happy to point in you the right direction.
The first wine on the tasting list for the evening was a sparkling wine from the Istrian region, made using the méthode champenoise. This wine was absolutely stunning, beautifully smooth with light bubbles and very drinkable! After the sparkling wine we tried 3 different whites, all from different parts of Croatia, one of which was a Chardonnay, albeit very different from most Chardonnays I have tried before. This could be due to the fact that, unlike a lot of Chardonnays, it was not aged in oak barrels.
We then tried 2 reds. My favourite was the first, a spicy, peppery red from the south of Croatia, near Dubrovnik, with a beautiful and distinctive taste that transported me back a couple of years to a trip I took to Dubrovnik. We ended with a sweet dessert wine, and although I’m not a huge fan of sweet wines, I could still appreciate the delicate flavours of this wine.
Throughout the evening Judith gave as a good insight into each wine, the winemaker, the vineyard, and even some information into the local area. She has a great knowledge of Croatia and was passionate about the wines and the country which was very captivating.
This was my first wine tasting experience at Hennings and I was very impressed. Firstly, we were given a decent amount of each wine to try, about half a glass of each, so that we could really appreciate each wine, more so than the small thimble-full you get at most wine tastings. Secondly, the supplementary information of the history of the Croatian wine industry, wine makers, and the general insight into Croatian life added an extra dimension to the event. Overall the evening was well-presented and very interesting.
Needless to say I left Hennings with 6 bottles of my two favourites of the evening: 3 bottles of ‘Josic’ Grasevina 2012, which was the first white we tried and also 3 bottles of the first red, ‘Milos’ Plavac Mali 2009. The tastings lasted about an hour and a half and cost £15 a head, which is such good value for an enjoyable evening! I look forward to attending another of their tasting evenings in the future.