It’s no wonder that Croatia has the perfect climate for making wine and olive oil. Ever since the city of Split was selected as the filming location for the fictional city of King’s Landing in Game of Thrones, travelers and digital nomads have been flocking to this seaside country known for its rugged beauty and uniqueness.
THE WINES OF CROATIA
Zinfandel aka Crljenak
rich, dark color scheme, medium to high tannin levels, and higher alcohol content
Is the father of Plavac Mali, which is currently reliving its youth. You will be surpised by both its quality and price. After 30 years of discussion and disagreements DNA research carried out by Carole Meredith of the University of California at Davis from the early 1990s to 2002 (known as the Zinquest) confirmed that Zinfandel is identical to Italy’s Primitivo. But although this research closed the debate over whether Zinfandel is Primitivo, it opened up an even older chapter of the variety’s history. We know that Primitivo arrived in Italy via Croatia, where it was known by various names including Tribidrag and Crljenak Kastelanski. Look for Vuina, Bedalov, Krolo, Mimica, and Grabovac.
Bold red wines with blackberry notes
Plavac Mali is the primary red wine of Croatia and grows mostly along the Dalmatian coast. It is a wine that is rich and full of flavor, higher in both alcohol and tannin, with lower acidity, and has flavors of blackberry, dark cherry, pepper, carob, dry figs, and spice. Plavac Mali translates to “small blue,” and this grape is so important in Croatia that it was the first to have its own appellations – Dingač and Postup, which are both located on the Pelješac peninsula in South-Central Dalmatia. Your best bets are Duboković, Baković, Miloš, Radović (Dingač) and Grgić.
Dry white wines with a peppery pear note
To pronounce Grk just pronounce the three letters in a row. Grk produces dry white wines with notes of white pepper, melon, herbs, and sliced pear. The variety is indigenous to Croatia and is only found in sandy soils close to Korčula, on an island within the Srednja-Juzna Dalmacija. Grk is often called “the most feminine of all grapes” because it only has female flowers and must to be planted next to other varieties in order to pollinate (most wine grapes are self-pollinators). Best producers are Cebalo, Bire and Zure.
Full-bodied white wines with subtle almond notes
Croatian-born Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, who produced the winning wine at the Judgement of Paris in 1976, went back to Croatia in 1996 and started a winery dedicated to producing the finest wines with Dalmatian grapes. What did he choose? Plavac Mali and Pošip! This white wine is often crisp with flavors of apples, vanilla spice, citrus fruit, and a subtle almond note. In the past, Pošip used to grow only on the island of Korčula, but thanks to its early ripening, today it is spread around Dalmatia – Pelješac peninsula, islands of Brač and Hvar, Pakleni islands, Korlat region, and the Biokovo slopes. Producers like Grgić, Krajančić, and Korta Katarina and their labels will be representative of what Pošip is supposed to be.
Refreshing white wines with a spice note
Malvazija Istarska is one of the main white wines of Istria and the northern Dalmatian coast. Sometimes it’s called Malvasia Istriana, although it’s not actually the same grape as Malvasia from Italy. These wines are refreshing and usually dry, with lower alcohol content and aromas of fennel, quince, honey, apricot, and spice. Malvazija Istarska grows in Istria, one of Croatia’s popular wine travel destinations. We recommend Kozlovic, Coronica and Clai.
Earthy, full-bodied robust red wines
This is a red grape that grows happily in Istria and seems to absorb the mineral, iron-like quality of the soils in the wines. Expect bold flavors of forest berries and violets with smoky meat and game-like notes. Teran generally has high tannins, and should evolve over a few years. In Italy, Terran is called Terrano. Fakin, Clai and Dobrovac are probably best producers.
Croatia full of life