Earlier in the year I was judging in a wine competition in Dubrovnik. I have been meaning to write about it ever since as the whole experience was quite wonderful. The place itself completely lives up to expectations and fully deserves its reputation as one of the great destinations. I can see why it is a World Heritage site, it really is right up there with Venice in terms of wonder. It isn’t only the city that is worth seeing though, the whole coastline takes your breath away.
The wines in southern Croatia are a great experience too though. We tasted lots of excellent wines of character and interest that were quite unlike most wines from elsewhere, so all in all it was a pretty exciting trip.
The whole Dalmatian coast produces a wide array of red wines in all sorts of styles, some of them quite sweet, from the Plavac Mali grape – the name means ‘small blue’ by the way, which pretty well describes the look of the grapes. The berries are small and they are deeply coloured. The most famous examples of Plavac Mali are Dingač and Postup, which are both grown on the astonishingly wild and beautiful Pelješac Peninsula to the north of Dubrovnik. I visited vineyards there and was very taken with the place. I didn’t get to visit it, but the nearby island of Korčula, also grows Plavac Mali as well as making excellent white wines from the indigenous Pošip grape.
I have not yet drawn a map of Croatia, so you can see one by clicking here.
Plavac Mali is closely related to Italy’s Primitivo, which is the same grape as Zinfandel. In fact Zin is one of its parents, the other being the obscure Dobričić from the island of Šolta. True Zinfandel originates here in Croatia too, where it grows in tiny amounts on the Dalmatian coast and is known as Crljenak Kaštelanski. The even rarer and older Tribidrag has exactly the same DNA and is thought to be the same grape.
I had been to Croatia before, not on a wine trip as it happens, but wine gets consumed even on a holiday – you know how it it! On that occasion I visited Istria in the north west of the country where the local specialities are the earthy and herbal tasting Teran reds and the refreshing, although sometimes fleshy, Malvasia white wines. While I was there I visited a winery in Slovenia.
Anyway all this came flooding back to me while I was working at The Three Wine Men the other week. I was pouring and talking about Croatian wines to a very receptive and interested crowd. The wines were very good indeed and I decided that one of them would be my Wine of the Week:
2009 Plavac Blato
Blato 1902 is a cooperative on the island of Korčula and yes, you guessed it, they were founded in 1902. Blato is a town towards the western end of the island, some 20 km away from Korčula town. They don’t only make wine either, but all manner of drinks and agricultural products including olive oils and vinegars.
This is a delightfully elegant Plavac with the alcohol, fruit, tannins and acidity in very good balance. There is nothing rustic or overworked about this, the merest hint of raisins shows we are tasting a wine from somewhere with lots of sunshine and there is plenty of seductive spice as well as dark cherry fruit and touches of chocolate. At just 12.5% alcohol the wine is very easy to drink, but has good depth of flavour and a very Mediterranean feel. It would be brilliant with cheese and charcuterie as well as casseroles, lamb cooked with garlic and all manner of pasta dishes as there is something Italianate about it – 87/100 points.
Available in the UK at £10 a bottle from Croatian Fine Wines.
Croatian Fine Wines carry an excellent, and exciting range of Croatian wines, including some excellent and really lovely whites from the north east of the country.