Every now and then a new winery emerges from the sea of newcomers. Winery Križ for sure is the one to watch. They have a specific philosophy of vinifying one of the most famous Croatian red grape varieties – Plavac Mali. Denis Bogoević Marušić is the driving force of Križ cellar, but his father Mile is always keeping an eye on him. Wine&More caught up with him…
You say your Plavac Mali wine is actually the essence of Pelješac peninsula. So what is the taste of Pelješac?
Pelješac is a combinations of flavors – sea, stone, sweet Plavac grape and healthy soil.
How do you apply biodynamic and Steiner’s principles on Pelješac? And what does your father Mile thinks about it?
Applying biodynamic principles in vineyard is my personal choice. I’m generally interested in all non-aggressive methods that can help my production. Biodynamic processes are not easily visible in the nature and require long-term observation and experience. I was lucky that Alan Podolinski, one of the pioneers in biodynamic, visited my estate and shared with me some very helpful advice on how to apply the biodynamic principles.
I follow the moon calendar and use certain biodynamic preparations to build up the resistance of my grapes. My father Mile, 83, keeps an open mind and is very supportive in all I do.
Since 2008 you hold a stamp for ecological grape production. Some winemakers today avoid these types of certification but still apply eco standards or follow biodynamic principles out of their own beliefs. They argue they don’t want to be put under the umbrella of eco/organic wines that tend to be both technologically flawed and generally unpleasant. What do you think about it?
Getting certified is a personal choice. I think this stamp doesn’t refer to wine but to how it was produced. It is generally a good thing, but I am aware of its abuse. Eco-standards and certifications aside, your wine won’t sell if it’s not good or doesn’t have its audience. As long as I’m doing what I believe in, I won’t try to fit into the box. The best proof that I’m doing something right is how people react to my wines.
Macerated Grk (indigenous Croatian white grape from Dalmatia) sounds very interesting. Actually, it sounds very logical as well. Where did you get the idea and how do you vinify it?
The idea came naturally as I enjoy macerated wines (aka orange wines). I believe these wines are authentic and represent the exact opposite of mainstream wines, that are manipulated and without identity. In wines that undergo longer skin contact you can feel the richness of the grape variety and its true flavor.
I was motivated by a big number of excellent winemakers from Slovenia who are way ahead of us in this field. I decided to bring Grk back to Pelješac. It seemed the only logical thing to do as Grk is present in the genetics of Plavac. I didn’t have any proof it will grow well here on Pelješac because at that time there was no Grk grapes on the peninsula. It turned out I was right. We do open maceration for 4-7 days, without adding sulphur. After that we do the quiet fermentation in oak barrels.
Two hectares are not a lot, au contraire. Nevertheless, even with the production of only 5.000 bottles you managed to find your way to the foreign markets. The trend of indie wineries goes in your favor. How much wine do you sell abroad and where?
We sell up to 30% – in USA, Germany, Sweden and Hungary.
I realize you are connected to Slow Food. In what way do you collaborate?
I am a member of Slow Food Dubrovnik convivia since the beginning. Until now, I was twice present at Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto events in Torino, as well as at Terra Madre Balkan in Dubrovnik. My personal philosophy goes along with Slow Food philosophy and that is clean, artisanal and fair production. Just recently we founded a Slow Food presidium Varenik so the collaboration will get only better.
What are your plans for the future?
I plan to focus on keeping my products natural and original. In terms of quantities, we won’t grow significantly.
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