The island of Krk and the Croatian coast has a thousand-year tradition in the production of wine and sparkling wines. Even in ancient times, wine was one of the main products of Krk, which at that time was inhabited by the Illyrians Liburnians, but who cares about the Illyrians. This is not an BBC documentary. The Illyrians are as interesting as the press conference of the COVID Central Committee of the WHO.
This is the story of Dear Leader Joe aka Vin Diesel for the poor, hedonist, Gastro Snob, tycoon and patriot, who decided to go to Vrbnik on the island of Krk in search of gold. Namely, the Katunar winery won 5 gold medals at Vinistra in 2021, and since I have a really sensitive stomach, I had to make sure on the spot if those wines really have a golden glow. Namely, if the wine is not golden, something immediately irritates me. Dear Leader Joe cannot be deceived by fake jewelry in the bottle.
As I did not go on the trip alone because unlike some people I have friends (Evgenia aka the most beautiful woman in Bulgaria, Vana aka miss Mongolia and a colleague I must not mention), I took an SUV, but not any, it was Jaguar E-Pace. Safety and comfort are paramount, and there’s the eco-friendly component because the car is marked with letter E. If they remember me on the day of the Nobel Prize for environmental protection, they remember, if not, nothing. Anyway, if Jaguar was good for James Bond, it will be good for us.
We were greeted by winemaker Anton Katunar, better known in society as Tony. He was as excited as Bill Gates when he realized that people believed in his corona deception. He sliced some Istrian sausages and Pag cheese and poured us his welcome sparkling wine “PORIN“.
I didn’t want to be rude, but I reminded him that we had come a long way and that cheese and sausages would not be enough. Tony immediately used a knife, but not to attack me like in that movie Psycho. He sliced some amazing homemade Drniš prosciutto for us.
It was named after the church near which the vineyard is located. (The Baska tablet was found in the church of St. Lucia). The mentioned church/the monastery of which it was a part, was engaged in viticulture, which can be seen on the decorative edge on the Baska tablet, which is decorated with vine tendrils. The church and the monastery were built on the ruins of the Roman Villa Rustica, which owned and cultivated the same vineyards. If I mention the church one more time, I will turn into priest.
We tasted first the young Zlahtina “St. Lucia” from 2020 and then the aged Zlahtina “St. Lucia” from 2018, which won a gold medal at Vinistra 2021 and which is my favorite. It is interesting that the personal sommelier of George Bush, during his visit to Zagreb, chose the nobility of the Katunar winery at the blind tasting. What is good for the American president is also good for Dear Leader Joe and his friends.
Speaking of the American president, Tony praised us for exporting his wines to America – the USA.
Tony proudly offered them Katunar NIGRA wine, but the Americans were not impressed that the wine has all the characteristics of Syrah, from which grapes is made with the recognizable aromas of anise, blackberry, black cherry, currant, olive, black pepper, blueberry …, and they were not impressed with position from which it originates: vineyard at 150 to 180 m above sea level, with 30% slope, orientation south-southwest. The red soil rich in sand with more than half of the crushed stone that gives fullness and minerality, and the long finish to this wine also meant nothing to Americans. He was almost accused of racism. They said that they could not sell wine with the name NIGRA in the USA, so for them he had to change the label and the name to Anton red. I thought I was the only victim of political correctness, but there are more of us.
The Katunar winery is also known for the northernmost plantation of Plavac mali, and the 45th parallel that runs through their vineyard also passes through some of the most famous European vineyards such as Bordoaux or Piedmont. The ideal orientation of the vineyards (south-southwest), the proximity of the sea and excellent ventilation allow organic farming in the full sense, with extremely low needs for spraying and protective treatments of the vine. Then you wonder why our chemical manufacturers are closing their business.
In addition to typical aromas and flavors, such as dark fruits such as blackberries and black cherries, but also pepper, leather, smoke, in their blue you will also recognize discreet traces of licorice, musk and strawberry. Due to two years of maturation in an oak barrel, Plavac is enriched with a distinctive vanilla flavor. I also copied this. I don’t even know what licorice is.
For me, Plavac mali was good, but I was bothered by the silver he won at the Decanter in London, although it is a huge success considering the competition. I’m like a vampire. I’m allergic to silver. I’m generally superficial and only admit first places. I even resented Janica Kostelic for not winning 4 golds on the Olympics, but only 3 and silver. That is why I will now mention another wine from the Katunar winery, which won the gold: “Kurykta reserve” – Wine obtained by mixing sansigot and debejan. This wine was declared the best red wine of the indigenous varieties in Istria and Kvarner, and Vana agreed.
Katunar Zlahtina without sulfur “Festivum” also won the gold medal. Wine as they used to drink – Maceration of three weeks, wine without any additives.
When it comes to wine without additives, we also had to try Katunar Amphora – Vinified Zlahtina in an amphora imported from Georgia (the oldest way of vinification). No additives, sulfur, orange wine, long maceration 5-6 months. Tony said there is no more mineral. I think he lied.
I will quote one great winemaker: “It was nice to taste the wines in the winery, but the real experience is achieved only by getting drunk in the vineyard.” – Tony Katunar
Vana couldn’t decide whether she drank Plavac mali or Kurykta, so she poured both.
We asked a mysterious colleague to take us to the top of the vineyard because after Vana’s suggestion to drink from two glasses we were in Keith Richards condition.
At one point, the director of the Baska tourist board, Ivana Topic, appeared in the vineyard, looking for a route for the MTB marton, which they will organize soon. Of course she could not miss the opportunity to meet the Dear Leader Joe aka Vin Diesel for poor people. I asked her, “Do you want a photo?” She replied shyly, “I don’t have money right now. We had the worse season last year because of the Covid-19. This one should be better so I’ll could pay you a lot. I promise.” I told her: “You don’t have to worry. Tony will pay for everything. Just pose without fear. I can take ten photos if you want.” Tony replied, “One will be enough. We should not exaggerate in anything.” The stingy land preserves its treasure.
After staying in the fresh air, we returned to the winery so the team could take a couple of boxes of wine for the trip. In addition to St. Lucia, Vana also chose the Gold Vintage, which also won a gold medal, and a bottle of Sansigot, which also won a gold medal. Sansigot or Sušćan black is named after the Kvarner sandy island of Susak, where this black grape variety has been grown since ancient time. Susak is also known for incest, but now is neither the place nor the time to discuss about family relationships on a sandy island.
Before leaving, Toni told us how he inherited the role of a winemaker from his father Anton, who as a former computer scientist was the first to make a Glagolitic font. His old man was Croatian Bill Gates.
On the wine scene of Krk and Kvarner in 1984, his father was the first in the former state to get a permit to open a business of IT activities and write computer programs! The first wines he made at all were wines he made for Christmas and New Year gifts which he then gave to business partners. Since the 90’s, Katunars has been professionally engaged only in winemaking, and since 2004 he and his uncle have been going their separate ways in terms of business, and today the two families are each developing their own brand. Katunar Winery was among the first to introduce controlled cold fermentation, they procured new bariques from Slavonian oak and were the first in Croatia to master the production of sparkling wines by the Charmat (tank) method.
Another curiosity for the end. San Marino has issued a series of postage stamps with 7 European wines. On one of them was Katunar Zlahtina. They probably tasted the wine at a wine fair in Italy and said, “If it’s good for Bush, it’s good for our stamp collection.”
Tony wanted to take us to lunch, but unfortunately we had to turn him down because we had an early dinner organized in Njivice on Krk with Jelena Kraljic and her Indian husband Rajeev. Jelena has apartments @homestay_njivice, and Raj prepares traditional Indian food for guests that you can’t eat in restaurants. Of course, Katunar wines are served with a meal, and Vrbnik Zlahtina and curry go together like Dear Leader Joe and Kim Kardashian. The perfect couple. I hope Kim reads this.
Rajeev asked me for a photo, but so spontaneous that he didn’t look like he was posing in new Strugar shoes.
Unfortunately, I don’t have photos of Indian food because Raj always says: “Eat now while it’s warm, you’ll take photos later” I’ve been to India and to a number of Indian restaurants, but the best Indian meal I’ve ever eaten is at Rajeev’s and Jelena’s place in Njivice on the island of Krk. For all of you who are looking for a weekend destination to escape, my suggestion is definitely a visit to the Katunar winery in Vrbnik on the island of Krk, after which you must visit Njivice for an Indian dinner. The next day you can jump to Cres to the Art Farm Filozici, which I have already written about, and which we also visited that weekend.
If you have time, from Cres it is best to go to Opatija and enjoy in Monte Carlo for the poor. Now the poor will say, “It’s so easy to travel when you have a Jaguar!” It’s comfortable, safe, but you can also enjoy an uncomfortable ride and risk life in your Fiat Panda. We ended our trip at this destination, and whoever guesses where this ship is located on which lies the most beautiful woman in Bulgaria, will receive a prize bus trip for two to Bergamo.
Author: Josip Novosel aka Dear Leader aka Vin Diesel for the poor, a corresponding member of the “Better to be a hedonist than a Communist” magazine, a friend to the wealthy, a tycoon and a Gastro Snob, but above all a human.