We know. Summer in Croatia is practically a synonym for hedonism. But we can’t help ourselves from taking full advantage of every moment of our vacation, and we know what that means. It means having the ideal wine for every opportunity we wish to enrich. To make things simple, the following list is a “must try” selection of monovarietal wines from indigenous grape varieties of Croatia’s main regions, with an emphasis on the coastal region.
Ivančić Griffin Brut 2014
Before the start of lunch (or, even better, before the start of a new day after an endless night), one domestic wine hits the spot like nothing else. Rizvanac sounds very domestic, though it’s actually a Muller Thurgau.
This courageous young producer of sparkling wines cleverly chose this variety for an ideal sparkling aperitif. It’ll cleanse your palette and prepare your taste buds for new sensations.
But it will also do more than that: The cold air of the highest vineyards from the amphitheatre of Plešivica is captured in this Brut sensation. The green hills of this “Croatian Champagne” are captured in the experience of drinking the Griffin, and they cut through and widen the palate without overwhelming it thanks to this sparkling wine’s low alcohol content.
Jerković Kujunđuša 2015
The harder to pronounce, the more interesting – or so they say. You might ponder this rule as you order the tongue-twisting “Kujundžuša.”
Either way, while you do so in the cool shade of a restaurant, rest assured that this is a local specialty with which you can’t go wrong.
If Kujundžuša presents too much of a linguistic feat, the winemaker’s last name will suffice. Jerković is a critically acclaimed master of incredibly drinkable yet characteristically distinguishing aperitif wines.
An anchovy on your plate, marinated or salted, won’t undermine the minimalist and solid structure of this local variety.
Piquentum Malvazija Blanc 2014
He’s a child of Malvasia, son of a father from Istria and a mother from France. To be fair, the young Dimintri Brečević is best known for his Teran and Refošk, but his Piquentum Blanc is one of a rare few Istrian Malvasias which is untainted by market demands or by fashionable stylistic preferences.
This Malvasia embodies the true character of this Istrian variety without going to extremes.
Elegant and charming, this wine is the fruit of a hands-off approach by a winemaker whose cellar is extravagant, but whose wines are of a classic, lively beauty. Piquentum Blanc is a year over year choice of connoisseurs and one of the best value wines on the market. If you’re craving seafood, you’re on the right track.
Stina Pošip 2014
What kind of summer with a view of the deep blue sea would be complete without a Pošip in hand? An almost forgotten variety, accidentally saved from the brink of extinction, has today become one of Dalmatia’s most widespread assortments.
While the inhabitants of Korčula, the island from which the variety originates, argue over whose Pošip is better, one of the best Pošips of Dalmatia is actually made on the island Brač.
You’ll find the first bottle empty before the fish has left the grill. Caution is advised, as Pošip is a variety bathed in the southern sun, which results in a higher alcohol content. Shade and a full plate will complement it well. Luckily, Stina knows how to achieve the right balance. It’s a balance of sun, Dalmatian herbs, and dried fruit in a glass.
Galić Graševina 2015
What Pošip is to Dalmatia, Graševina is to all of Croatia. This most common variety in Croatia is grown on the continental part of the country and is today recognized as entirely indigenous. In Jancis Robinson’s wine atlas, Graševina is accepted as the primary name for the variety otherwise known as Welschriesling in Austria, Riesling Italico in Italy, Laški rizling in Slovenia or Olaszriesling in Hungary.
This is thanks to the high quality of wine that this variety brings about in Slavonia and especially the golden valleys of the Kutjevo appellation.
The finest example of a modern Graševina is bottled by the Galić winery, who ensure that fullness and alcohol are replaced by freshness and aroma. It’s extremely rewarding for an isolated sip by the pool but has enough body to follow even heavier meals of pasta and white meat, especially with an aromatic seasonal sauce.
Bibich Debit 2015
Throughout history, Dalmatians were not familiar with prestigious and highly prized varieties. They drank Debit. They enjoyed their summers with this still widespread variety of Dalmatia. When a savory bite from the grill becomes “sweet” – that’s the synergy that Debit creates. Today’s technology allows us to enjoy the unique acidity of Debit and its vinous aroma every year.
But it still takes a true master, familiar with the soul of the variety, to trasform it into an authentic wine.
A smart choice is Bibich, a winemaker from Skradin who got Anthony Bourdain drunk in one of the most entertaining episodes of No Reservations. Originating from Bibich’s vineyard in the heart of Dalmatia, with a strong continental influence provided by the corridor of cool northern air, this wine earns its place as one of favorites of the Croatian summer.
Stina Vugava 2014
If you’re from the island Vis, you will definitely find this wine an insult. If, by touching the label, you feel the texture of the famous Brač stone, you’ll be anticipating a wine from Brač. Vugava is actually a variety from Vis, jealously considered a privilege of the people of Vis for centuries, isolated from the mainland and modern trends.
The Stina winery makes wine on the island of Brač and when it’s ready, bottles it with a label textured like Brač stone. Despite the outrage it might elicit on Vis, the wine is excellent. Lighter than the traditionally far heavier Vugavas of Vis, it ensures summery refreshment full of the aromas that Vugava provides.
This dry wine of firm structure can follow an entire meal as it pairs wonderfully with piquant tastes such as that of pesto sauce or mature cheese, but it’s equally rewarding with lighter seafood appetizers.
If you want to learn more about Croatian wines and Croatian winemakers, then check out Wine & More’s website. The crew at Wine & More also make it simple and easy to purchase Croatian wines and have them delivered to your doorstep.