We were rather confused. And very pleasantly surprised. We had just tasted the rosé Poy with Mladina oenologist and director Robert Brkić in his office. Poy is Mladina’s sparkling wine, made by Charmat method typical of Italian Prosecco production. In this winemaking proces named after it inventor Eugène Charmat, the second fermentation happens in tanks instead of bottles. In 2013. Prosecco global sales surpassed that of Champagne (over 307 million bottles of Prosecco were sold, and around 304 million bottles of Champagne).Prosecco is now the most popular sparkling wine in the world, so Mladina team made a clever desicion to focus on sparkling wines produced by the Charmat method.
The market results are already evident: Poy sales is expected to reach 150 thousand bottles in the next three years. Quality improvement is even more impressive. Poy Rose, with the base wines of Pinot Noir, Blauer Portugeiser and Merlot has a charming, happy and quite eccentric fruity nature: like drinking pearling strawberries and raspberries.
Ready for blind tasting with 10 Proseccos
It is a wine which could beat just about every Prosecco maker on the Croatian market, so we suggested to Mr Brkić, a Slavonian with the noble task of creating a strong sparkling wine brand, to organise a blind tasting of his sparkling wine and 10 Proseccos, because we are sure Poy would be among the top three.
The team at Mladina has a precise promotion plan for Poy. They focus on age group 20 to 50, insist that all the selling points serve Poy by the glass and plan to expand selling of the wine to clubs and bars on the Adriatic coast. Image campaigns of Poy as a dynamic sparkling wine include sponsoring of the most popular sport events from the Red Bull Air Race in Rovinj to the ATP tennis tournament in Umag. In our twenty or so professional years in Croatian wine market, we’ve rarely seen such a detailed and elaborate presentation. This is a model similar to that of Moët et Chandon developed to rejuvenate and democratise its brand.
How to sell to younger, dynamic buyers
After rose and white Poy made from Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Blanc, that rainy spring morning at Mladina we also tasted three Poys made with traditional champenoise method where second fermentation takes place in the bottle. Mladina produces about 25 thousand bottles traditionaly, including a small number of magnums, a format particulary suitable for sparkling wines. Black label Poy Prestige left by far the best impression.
This sparkling wine is aged on lees for two years, which gives it optimal sugar acid balance(5 grams of sugars and about 6,5 grams of acid). Poy Prestige is a superb, complex classic sparkling, has a strong structure, exquisite fine and dense pearling, citrus and bready aromas and a long finish. It’s one of the best Croatian sparkling wines in the category of already established Croatian sparklings such as Meneghetti, and at a price of 110 to120 kuna is less expensive than Tomac Diplomat. It’s interesting, by the way, that Mladina’s property touches the Tomac family property…
The rosé and white Poys price of about 45 kuna is somewhat cheaper than the majority of good Proseccos. After the tasting in Brkić’s office, we walked around the Poy production facilities. Company invested around 9 million kuna in the automated production equipment, especially thanks for second fermentation. The wines are aged on lees for up to six months, twice as long as is usual requirement of Prosecco production.
The future is sparkling for Croatian producers
“We are practically tasting a Prosecco Sur Lie now,” joked Brkić filling our glasses from a tank with bone-dry, still young sparkling wines that nevertheless left an outstanding impression. The adding of ‘liqueur’ – sugar solutions to finish off the sparkling wine – has a special place in the sparkling wine production process: sparkling wines labelled brut only contain up to 12 grams of sugar. The sparkling we tasted from the tank foamed like a sorbet and, just like sorbet, had no sugar at all, showing the potential of the Plešavica mountains grapes.
We kindly recommend to Mladina to introduce a brut nature, a sparkling wine with no added sugar, in the near future. Thanks to its climate, the Croatian Hillside – one of our four wine regions – is ideal for the production of sparkling wines. Along with the long-established Tomac family, this is now being reflected by Mladina and their Poy line, in their sparkling wine produced by the Charmat method and their classic sparkling wines equally. The sparkling wine market is growing constantly, as is the rosé wine market.
Future is guaranteed for wineries that can produce high quality, standardised sparkling wines, and effectively present them to the mass market. Large international sparkling wine producer such as Freixenet or Henkell, sell tens of millions of bottles a year. Mladina’s business plan of 150 thousand bottles for the next two or three years looks good from the point of view of their revenue, and their share of the total Croatian sparkling wine market, but we are sure that it could be significantly increased.
When drinking sparkling wine becomes an everyday habit in Croatia as it already is in almost all European wine and non wine countries, Mladina and Poy will become a natural first choice for many customers, because it represents a pretty rare combination of high quality and mass availability. Although it’s still small, especially in context of a large corporation like Agrokor, Poy could become one of Croatia’s most profitable wine projects.