To really be surprised by a wine. It doesn’t happen every day. Not every week and not every month. Once in a while you taste something so special that it can keep your mind wandering for days on end. Read here which wines we should drink more often anyway.
I had heard vaguely about coral wine. Somewhere in the back of my brain was a memory of perhaps a video or a story of a man hiding his wines under the sea. These would be very rare wines that cost a lot of money in restaurants, that occasionally explode under water or even get lost altogether.
Tea from Thetasteofcroatia invited me for a drink on the terrace of BarFly in Amsterdam almost a month ago. She wanted me to taste some Croatian wines because she thinks Croatia produces beautiful wines that deserve more attention. And rightly so.
As an importer of premium Croatian wines, Tea has the cream of the crop of Croatian wines in her portfolio. That afternoon on the terrace we tasted “The Dalmation dog” a 100% Babić with spectacular label, Organic, fruity and energetic. The wine got 95 points from the Decanter and costs a paltry 11 euros. So far, so good.
Tea starts to shine and asks if I want to taste something very special. Uh… YES! She disappears inside and comes back with three bottles of wine in beautiful cardboard boxes where the sea is captured in an inventive way with colorful drawings. Exciting!
Inside the box is a bottle that is completely overgrown with coral, shells, oysters, leaves and everything that lives in the sea. Wow! That’s looks very promising.
The story of Marko Dušević
Before we start tasting the wines, Tea tells me about Marko Dušević, an entrepreneur who grows mussels and oysters in Croatia. One day he came up with the idea of ripening wine bottles from a local winemaker under water for a while. Things didn’t go well right away and only after four years the project succeeded. In 2017 the first Coral wine came on the market.
Marko is not a winemaker himself but matures wines from more than thirty different winemakers in his underwater cellar. His fame is now widespread and there are coral wines on the market from local Croatian winemakers to Sassicaias.
The wines mature between 15 and 30 meters deep and go through a special process. Under water the world looks different. There is no influence of sunlight, the temperature is constant, the pressure and flow of the water dance with the wine. These conditions ensure that the wine manifests itself differently than on the land. The wines become softer with more taste and complexity.
Tasting notes Coral wine
Time to taste! We open the Merlot rosé 2011 from winemaker Kabaj from Slovenia. The wine matured for 2 years in wooden barrels and then 12 months at a depth of 20 meters in the Adriatic Sea.
Goosebumps. The aroma is refined and elegant and yet filled with so much depth. This is a wine to pair with food because it is very full and complex although very suitable as a vino da meditazione because you can’t stop talking about it.
For this article I tasted two more wines that can be bought at ThetasteofCroatia.
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Syrah. The wine has matured for 1 year on barrique, another year in large wooden barrels and then 12 months at a depth of 20 meters in the Adriatic Sea.
The wine is amazing without a doubt. I smell a lot of chocolate and dark black fruit. Berries, cherries, plums. Juicy cherries also on the palate, subtle tannins, refined acidity. Spicy touch also of the Syrah. The wine stays with you for a long time. This is definetely my favorite!
The Sauvignon vert (formerly known as Tokaj Friulano) is very surprising. It is a white wine but has the complexity of a red wine. The aromas range from spiciness to vanilla, nuts, tropical fruits. It really is a nose full! Soft on the palate with lots of flavor. Again that nutty touch, some flowers, lots of green herbs, juicy fruit. And a very long finish!
Coral wines are not cheap, but in my opinion worth every penny. An unforgettable experience that you as a wine lover should experience at least once in your life.