Understanding Croatian wines

14 May, 2010

Q A Croatian customer is urging me to source some wines from his homeland. What would I be letting myself in for??A Croatian wine is a mixed bag. Some of the styles are generally regarded as being more in tune with a local ­audience than international tastes: reds can be a little overripe and unbalanced, critics have remarked, and whites can seem harsh without the benefit of some ageing.

There are examples of some intense, flavoursome reds and zesty, refreshing whites, too, though don’t be surprised if they come in at higher prices than you’d imagine.

You can check the wines out for yourself on May 25 when the first generic tasting of Croatian wines takes place in London. Fine Wine of Croatia, a collective of about 30 of the country’s top producers, will showcase its wares at The Intercontinental, Park Lane, London.

The tasting will focus on Croatia’s diverse range of indigenous varieties, with Plavac Mali, Pošip, and Babic from Dalmatia, Malvazija Istriana and Teran from Istria, Zlahtina from Kvarner, and Graševina from the Slavonia and Danube regions all on show. International varieties will include Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer from Slavonia and Danube, and Pinot Noir, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc from north west Croatia.

Q I want to spruce up my window display. Can hops be grown indoors??A Hops can be grown indoors if you can guarantee between six and eight hours a day of sunlight. Beyond these two extremes things start to get tricky, so you need to be sure conditions are right. A south-facing window should be fine if there is also enough air circulation to stop the plant overheating.

You need a large pot, 50cm deep. With the right care – daily watering and appropriate food – your hop should thrive indoors, but be prepared for its ferocious growth rate. You’ll need trellising to stop it going haywire, and you’ll probably have to train the new growth and do some trimming most days of the growing season.

In their full glory, hops look and smell wonderful. Without some TLC, they can go very scraggy. These are summer plants, so you will only really get the benefit from late spring to early autumn.

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