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Different faces of “Plavac Mali” from the pen of Boston’s venerable Federal Wine Store

Owner Len Rothenberg, (on the right) and Seth Holmes tasting the Croatian wines (Photo: Federal Wine Store)

Last week, Federal Wine & Spirits in Boston held a tasting of wines from Croatia. Peter Hemenway from the store wrote an overview as well as giving notes on the wines. 

Mirena Bagur, of Croatian Premium Wine Imports, Inc., came by last week to showcase the wines of Croatia, specifically the Komarna appellation in Dalmatia. She is a tireless promoter of the history, culture, wine and food of Croatia. These Croatian wines, and a few more that just arrived, are available in the company’s online shop, and they are shipping to most states. In the Boston area, Federal Wine also delivers orders placed here: www.federalwine.com.


We began our tasting with the 2018 Terra Madre Pošip. This was the only white in the tasting and tasters were very impressed. The wine showed rich flavor with intensity and balance.

The reds all fall into the Zinfandel family of wines. Mirena explained that Zinfandel originated in Croatia where it is called Tribidrag. Plavac Mali is a close relative. Having said that these wines are not the heavily extracted, sweet fruit wines for which California is known. They share some of the fruit profile yet are more restrained, showing mineral and acidity. The 2015 Volarevic Plavac Mali Syrtis Blue Label was a really good introduction. There were lots of nice things going on with some complexity and good balance. The 2016 Rizman Tribidrag was richer and a bit too spicy for some, very nice for others.

(Photo: Federal Wine Store)

The 2016 Terre Madre Plavac Mali Premium was different with its dusty, smokey character. 2015 Rizman Plavac Mali Reserve added a brambly earthy character and different spice. At this point tasters were getting a little confused as to how wines from the same grape and area could be so different.

Before they got an answer we tasted the 2013 Volarevic Plavac Mali Syrtis Gold Reserve. This one was dramatic with sweet fruit aromas and very rich on the palate. One said the concentration reminded him of an Amarone.

Mirena said these producers in Komarna supported each other in every way. One of the things they wanted to do was show the different faces of Plavac Mali that could result from terroir and individual winemaking. We would like to thank Mirena very much for stopping by to inform and educate us about the fine wines of Croatia.

Wine Notes:


2018 Terre Madre Pošip:  Balanced and rich with intriguing aromas and flavors of apricot and citrus. This wine is great with seafood, as you would expect. Very Good Plus Plus.


2015 Volarevic Plavac Mali Syrtis Blue Label:  Full bodied with black plum, hints of cranberry and clove, and other spice notes in the finish. Very nice balance. Very Good Plus Plus

2016 Rizman Tribidrag: This dark red is overtly spicy with raspberry and black tea and notes of almond and bramble. The mid palate is quite rich and then settles into a long dry finish. Very Good Plus to Excellent

2016 Terre Madre Plavac Mali Premium

Cranberry and pomegranate with hints of dark cherry and black pepper and dusty tannins. The finish is balanced and smooth. Very Good Plus to Excellent 

2015 Rizman Plavac Mali Reserve:  Deep red. Black plum and bramble with floral notes. Touches of smoke and leather and a spicy finish. Very Good Plus to Excellent

2013 Volarevic Plavac Mali Syrtis Gold Reserve: Plum, black cherry, raspberry  with notes of cinnamon, leather and tobacco. Rich mid palate and a dry finish with nuance and complexity. Exotic and balanced. Excellent

(Photo: Federal Wine Store)

About Federal Wine

The store has a very special ambiance – it is located in the actual cellar of the historic old Second Brazer Building, built in 1897 in the Beaux Arts style, across the Street from the Old State House.

Federal Wine (Photo: Federal Wine & Spirits)

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