When we first started to look at wines for the program at Autre Monde, our goal was to bring original, affordable wines, showcasing the rich variety of the Mediterranean to our guests. We also plan to showcase some domestic and even Midwestern wines, ( Michigan and Ohio are doing some nice Italian varietals – story for another entry). Wine is one of those things where local, in the Midwest is still a bit hard to achieve if you want to have a serious wine program. Our criteria with winemakers will focus more on the technique and farming practices of the vineyards on our list.
With that said, at the outset however, we had not considered Croatian wines. Not because they aren’t a fit, the Adriatic Coast of Croatia is across the water from Italy where the coastline of Slovenia and modern day Croatia is a mirror image of the boot. However, the long and difficult history of the former Yugoslavia, meant that the coast of Croatia remained a relatively closed society that only recently became a real tourist destination. The country has much of the same charm, cuisine and dedication to all things grape and olive as its neighbor across the sea. Jackie Kennedy is rumored to have favored it over all other places when visiting the Mediterranean.
Our interest is personal as well. My husband John has family near Split on the Adriatic Coast. On his first visit to Vinitaly, he and our friend Henry Bishop took a side trip to visit them and try some wine back in 2003. Henry helmed the wine program at Spiaggia for menu years and knows the wines from Italy about as well as anyone could. Just a short ferry ride from Ancona to the Croatian coast, they found a place where a new generation of wine makers are reinventing classic styles and making some exciting wines. Henry was as interested and impressed as we were and actually brought a few Slovenian whites and a Dignac back for the Spiaggia list. While they raved about the trip, I drooled over the video of the haltingly beautiful, unspoiled coastline. In the past few weeks, we happened upon an importer who is bringing in a number of Croatian wines and we quickly signed up for a tasting. What we enjoyed with Sasha confirmed that these wines are really coming into their own and will be a great addition to our list. (more…)