Croatian Wine Cheat Sheet – 101 on what to look out for while drinking in Croatia
Remember book reports? Yikes, didn’t like those, so I often opted out to cut the whole process short and go play my guitar. Discovering cliff notes and cheat sheets has been one of the most important events in my life. It cleared time for reading about and doing things I actually care about. Wine is one of them, but not for everybody, people are different, and I wouldn’t take it any other way.
So, you are on vacation, want to have a nice bottle of wine but don’t want to go through the nerd stages of figuring out every single thing about something obscure as Croatian winemaking.
Good, here is a strip down of Croatian wine stuff, as simple as it can be, maybe even simpler that it should be. Regions, varietals, producers.
Dalmatia is probably place where you will end up in anyway; places like Dubrovnik, Hvar and Split are exploding as world class destinations
- Plavac Mali is the predominant red grape in Dalmatia, it’s high in alcohol and tannin, be sure to pair it with hearty dishes or you could be overwhelmed , also ask the waiters if they could recommend some Plavac from known appellations (Dingač, Postup, Ivan Dolac) because Plavac can give suspicious results when out of it comfort zone. Target Duboković, Baković, Miloš, Radović (Dingač) and Grgić.
- Zinfandel aka Crljenak aka Pribidrag as a father of Plavac Mali is now living through a second youth and can surprise with quality and price, look for Bedalov, Krolo, Mimica, Grabovac
- Pošip is a true Dalmatian white with strong alcohol (sensing a theme?), nice acidity, fruity aromas and a nice round body, but please, PLEASE stay away from jug Pošip or from drafted ones; it can be a painful experience. Producers like Grgić, Krajančić, and Korta Katarina and their labels will be representative of what Pošip is supposed to be. Try it with heavier style seafood like grilled fish.
If you barely heard for Croatia, chances are, you heard stories about Istria…the northwestern peninsula is a leader in branding and development and has made great strides in their winemaking last 10 years.
- Malvazija is the varietal that epitomizes Istria, fresh and light, aromatic and beautifully acidic it’s the perfect summer comfort, try it with shrimp or some lighter truffle dishes that people from Istria do so well. Keep an eye for Kozlović, Benvenuti, Coronica and Trapan.
- Teran is an indigenous Istrian red, no matter what Slovenian winemakers say, in a lot of way similar to Refosco, it is a little bit lighter and more acidic than Dalmatian reds which makes it a bit more food friendly for certain Istrian styled pastas. Keep an eye for Coronica, Benvenuti
Croatia’s bread basket Slavonia is the home of Graševina, most widely spread white varietal in Croatia but be sure to avoid drafted or “house wine” ones. Stick with producers like Galić, Enjingi, and Krauthaker. There are also some nice Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot wines from the like of Galić and Zdjelarević.
Located around Croatian capital Zagreb, this region is on the rise as the official forth region and is getting recognition for its light indigenous whites like Škrlet or best Croatian sparklers from Tomac and Šember. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are also being grown in bunches, Burgundy lovers take notice!!