Are you all dreaming of jetting off to sunnier climes over the summer? No wonder with this continuous drip-drip-drip effect we seem to be having up and down the country. I’m getting ready to spend a week on the beach of a Croatian island soon. The phone will be loaded up with my favourite music and plenty of books. Other than that I’m taking Speedos. Holiday destinations for me are about that peace and quiet but also a little discovery of the wonder of the local food and wines.
The other day I was discussing the reason why wine seems to have become so popular over the past 30 or so years. My view is that the advent of foreign travel, and cheaper air travel in particular, have opened people’s eyes to a continental lifestyle. Being exposed to the local wines and relaxed lifestyle made people want to recapture some of that magic when they got home. Usually with pretty mixed success, it has to be said. We all have stories of that wine which tasted so wonderful on the Spanish costas or the Greek islands. Once we got home to the British autumn it turned out to be less than pleasant and recaptured little more than a headache the next day. I’ve had it myself.
The local wine of Naples and the surrounding Amalfi Coast is a semi-sparkling light red wine called Gragnano. It is served in pitchers, perfectly chilled and very refreshing. Naples is well-known for its pizza and this wine just works far too well with the huge stone baked pizzas served all over Naples. Not long after the trip, I managed to track a bottle of it down in Scotland and thought I’d give it a try. I knew the producer and their wines are generally very good. There was nothing wrong with their Gragnano either, to be fair, but it just felt totally out of place up here in the cold Scottish autumn. More often than not, context is crucial to how a wine is experienced and it gives rise to the phrase ‘wine doesn’t travel’.
Sometimes it works though and I’m excited about the Croatia trip because the wines of Croatia are starting to make some waves here too, up until now largely in the independent sector but the quality absolutely warrants a wider distribution. That shouldn’t really come as a surprise with its proximity to wine superpower Italy. The great thing will be to continue the journey of discovery over the odd glass or two once back home.
If you want to have a go with Croatian wines yourself, here is one to try. It is made from the local variety Grasevina, which gives fresh, fruity white wines, perfect for sunny afternoons. Good on Marks & Spencer for being one of the first retailers to include a couple of Croatian wines in their portfolio.