Guest post written by Clive A. Baldwin
In 2011, Jancis Robinson referred to Croatia as the “land of opportunity” and the WineWeaver team have asked me to write about some of the personalities and the wine produced from some of the lesser known Croatian Vineyards. Croatia shares a boarder with Italy and is a country I have been visiting for over 20 years. I have come to enjoy and love Croatia and share some of my travels in my own website essentiallycroatia.com. I operate on an independent basis without fee or sponsorship and have received acknowledgement from The Croatian Tourist Office as I aim to be as fair as possible in my writings.
I first met wine-maker Franko Radovan OPG and his wife Danijela in 1998 and over that time he has been busily building his reputation as an ever increasing fine wine-maker. The Radovan family’s Croatian vineyard is located in Istria and close to the village of Radovani (see map inset).
It is not unlikely that the family has been producing wine for some hundreds of years, albeit mostly for private consumption but remember from little vineyards, great bottles may arise and Franko is certainly dedicated to this ideal.
Franko has developed from a “One Man- owner, worker and wine producer” to a medal winning wine-maker. In 2010, when he was unable to venture to London to see his wines on display at the Wine Trade Exhibition, he asked if I could take time off from my day job, in the National Health Service (NHS), to attend and report back on the quality of the wine display. Who could refuse such an offer and opportunity to visit a professional London based wine trade exhibition?
Not one to stand still, Franko has been busy increasing the acreage of his Croatian vineyard and has set himself a three year production target of 50,000 bottles (average), up from the current 35,000. The vines are natural and the grapes grown without herbicides, pesticides or fungicides. The wine making process is a combination of the old (oak) and the new (stainless steel). In order to ensure each bunch produces a high quality wine juice, considered so essential by the wine-maker Franko Radovan, the grapes are reduced throughout the season.
The best known Radovan wine is a dry white wine, Radovan Malvazija Istarska 2010, produced from the Malvazia/malvazija grape. Over the years Franko has won a number of medals for the Radovan Malvazia and he is also reputed to have made some exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon wine in 2004 and 2007. I have heard, from a very reliable source, that the Radovan Croatian Cabernet Sauvignon has the potential to reach the esteemed wine lists of 2 Michelin Star restaurants- a fine endorsement indeed. At present production is low and it is hard to source Radovan wine outside of Croatia so maybe we have something to look forward to (Franko take this as a heavy hint), buying a bottle of Radovan wine in the UK or even the USA. Now that would be a treat to indulge the senses.