We present to you our selection of the best and finest authentic wines in Croatia.
Croatia is becoming very popular for its wine production due to indigenous grape varieties that shape the country’s oenological identity.
As the finest dishes are mostly accompanied by fine wine we are presenting you eight varieties, almost every Croatian region has one grown on Croatian soil.
Over the past century, the Istrian malmsey has been born the title of the most famous and ubiquitous wine of our peninsula. This grape variety is grown on the entire Istrian peninsula, as well as in the neighboring countries of Slovenia and Italy. Depending on the chemical processing procedure, nurture, and vintage year, its color varies from straw to golden yellow. Its scent primarily reminds us of the locust flower scent.
There are three basic types of wine made from this white grape variety: base Malvasia, a lower-quality wine intended for fast consumption; fresh Malvasia, which carries the IQ (Istrian Quality) mark, is produced from high-quality grapes and has a shelf-life of up to three years; and matured Malvasia that hits the markets no earlier than two years after the grapes are picked, and can last several years. The contents of its main components make her an average to-full bodied wine, its volume of alcohol ranging from 11.5 to 13.5 with a delicate bouquet and fresh taste. It complements most superbly the entire variety of Mediterranean cuisine.
The Istrian counterpart of malmsey is Teran. Teran and its subtype Refosc are both considered the pristine, indigenous wines of Istria. Its bouquet is fruit-like and its special taste is easily recognized. It is in excellent harmony with heavier, more caloric dishes, such as local stew, sauces, and venison.
A great many connoisseurs of Istrian wines will tend to rank the highest the Istrian muscatel or, to be more specific, the muscatel produced in and around Momjan, owing to its gold-like color, intense bouquet of wild clove pink, and its exquisite aroma. Dry and sweet. A worthy complement of desserts and many other delicacies. Even aphrodisiac power has been attributed to it.
This variety, called Grasevina in Croatian, is also known under the names of Laško Riesling, Riesling Italico or Italian Riesling, Olasz Riesling, or Grasica. It is an international grape variety grown in Croatia and other countries in Central and East Europe. It is popular among winegrowers and winemakers because it is fruitful and resistant to diseases, and produces a steady yield year after year.
It is predominantly grown in the regions of Slavonia and Podunavlje and pairs well with fattier foods characteristic of Slavonian cuisine. It is mainly cultivated in the Kutjevo wine country and the southern slopes of Papuk and Krndija mountains, but it has also had success in the far south of the country, in Konavle.
One of the benefits of the Welschriesling is that it can be used to produce various types of wines, which enables winemakers to be creative when it comes to different styles. There are now fresh and mineral Welschriesling wines on the market, as well as more complex wines made after a late harvest, a selected harvest of dried grapes, or an ice harvest, all of which produce sweet and aromatic “predicate” wines served as an aperitif or dessert wine.
Zlahtina or Zlajtina is an indigenous white grape variety of the Croatian Littoral region. It is mostly grown on the island of Krk, specifically on the Vrbnik Field, which produces the most widely known wine from this grape variety, the Vrbnik Zlahtina (vrbnička žlahtina), which bears the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). Zlahtina is considered a high-yield variety. The dry wine it produces is clear, golden-yellow, and moderately strong, with a fruity aroma, high minerality and mild salinity, and a smooth and harmonious taste.
In addition to being used for winemaking, Zlahtina is also a delicious table grape variety with a full body and thick skin. The main properties of wines produced from this variety come to light during the first two years, which means that Zlahtina is not a wine that should be kept longer than that. Although it is considered to have a short shelf life, it can be used to make sparkling wines by fermenting them in tanks.
Plavac mali, known also as Plavac, Plavac mali crni, and the like, is a popular indigenous variety that originated in central and southern Dalmatia, where it is still one of the predominant varieties.
The most suitable areas to grow Plavac mali vines are hills facing south, in places such as Dingač and Postup on the Peljesac peninsula, Sveta Nedjelja, Zavala, and Ivan Dolac on the island of Hvar, and the village of Murvica on the island of Brac. It takes a while to ripen, it favors difficult terrain, and it’s resistant to diseases. Plavac Mali from the village of Dingac was the first wine to receive special recognition for its quality in the area of present-day Croatia, in 1961. It can produce strong wines with high alcohol content and strong flavors, as well as light fruity wines that are usually available in a more affordable price range.
Posip, Posip bijeli, Posipak, and Posipica are all local names for this indigenous white grape variety. It comes from the island of Korcula, and can also be found on the islands of Lastovo and Mljet. Posip thrives on sandy soils, is protected from wind, and gives large clusters that produce high-quality, delicious wine. The golden-yellow wine is dry, offering a strong aroma of dried apricots and figs, and has 12–13% of alcohol.
Posip wines have a distinct fragrance and high acidity levels, and they make for great wines to store and age. It is one of the oldest and most highly regarded white varieties, which is associated with Korcula because it has been cultivated there since ancient times. In 1967, the wine that came from the village of Cara on Korcula became the first white wine in Croatia to be awarded the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), and it still holds value today.
The Pošip variety is steadily gaining importance in southern Croatia, spreading and being grown on the mainland as well, in vineyards that are sprouting up across Dalmatia.
Babic is an indigenous red grape variety grown mostly in Dalmatia, which produces dark, dense, and tasty wines that are highly valued. In Croatia, it is also known under the names of Sibencanac, Babica, Babicevic, Roguljanac, and Pazanin, and there are two widespread subvarieties of it – Babic veliki and Babic mali.
The two Babic varieties differ in the size of the clusters, and wines produced from Babic mali also contain a higher amount of sugar and alcohol and are more full-bodied. Babic is a dark blue grape variety, with medium-large berries characterized by thin and soft skin and juicy flesh.
Babic grows best in the areas of Jasenovik, Strana, Kremik, Bucavac, and Trovrh around the town of Primosten, where it has been cultivated since the very beginnings of local winegrowing, as well as in the Kastela wine hills, Sibenik hinterland, and the island of Brac. Babic is characterized by high acidity and tannin levels and high alcohol content, which make it suitable for a long aging process and long-term storage.
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