Late Monday night, a savage wildfire consumed large swaths of scrub pine, olive and fig trees, and vineyards on the Pelješac peninsula in Dalmatia, one of Croatia’s most renowned wine-growing regions, leaving as many as 600 hectares of rocky landscape–as well as cars and some homes–blackened and charred at the height of the tourist season.
Especially hard hit was the area around the tiny seaside hamlet, Trstenik—home of the world-famous Grgić Vina, a winery founded by legendary—and Croatian-born—Napa Valley winemaker, Mike Grgich of Grgich Hills Estate in Rutherford, CA.
Sensory overload. That is how I would describe any one of my whirlwind visits to Croatia.
I mean it in a positive way. The country is simply brimming with vinous, culinary and natural delights. Gnarly old grapevines improbably clinging to sun baked seaside slopes. Nearly 1,200 islands sprinkled like seashells on the impossibly blue Adriatic. Countless villages and hamlets of seminal charm nestled in coves and on mountainsides. Fresh caught seafood and farm-to-table produce so succulent and cooked to perfection. The warm faces of family, old friends and new acquaintances (and an occasional donkey). Swoon-worthy views and secret spots where you can enjoy the sights and sounds of nature that – to this New York City boy – are so intimate, pure and wonderful.
And then there is the wine. Indigenous grapes, local producers. Most of it delicious and distinct. So this is what all this beauty… this land…this Croatia tastes like, you may be inspired to declare.
Wine: Miličić 2007 Plavac Mali “Selekcija” (Vrhunsko vino)
Sub-Region: Pelješac Peninsula
Grape Varieties: Plavac Mali
Alcohol by Volume: 13.7%
Residual Sugar: N/A
Price: 65 Kuna (in Croatia; Approximately $13)
Bottle Size: 750 ml
Imported By: N/A
Tasting Note: At 7 years old, this wine is dark ruby colored yet translucent, with elegant hues of garnet beginning to betray its age.Bold, seductive notes of dried fruits – black cherry, fig, and plum – combine to deliver a sweetly enticing nose that’s balanced and alluring, earthy and briny, sweet yet savory. Tertiary notes of leather, black olive, and iodine lurk beneath and linger with the aroma of stewed black fruits long after the glass is empty. The wine is labeled dry, yet I suspect there is a gram or two of residual sugar due to its slightly sweet attack and round finish that avoids being cloying due to a juicy dose of acidity. At 13.7% ABV, this is a pleasantly restrained and refined Plavac Mali, completely balanced, richly extracted, and easy to drink with dusty, fine tannins and a long, long mouth coating finish. Excellent! Bring on the mussels and squid ink risotto!! ~CR
Located on the Pelješac peninsula along the Adriatic Sea in Dalmatia, Postup is Croatia’s second oldest geographically protected wine-growing appellation (granted in 1963), lying just northwest of its more famous sister region, Dingač.
Like Dingač, Postup is home to the Plavac Mali grape and produces bold, powerful, sometimes off-dry to slightly sweet wines such as the benchmark Postup Mare from Bura-Mrgudić.
Tasting Note: Made only in the best years from partially sun-dried Plavac Mali grapes, this deeply garnet-colored, full-bodied wine is sweet at first but finishes a bit drier to reveal a mouth-filling texture and notes of dried plum, black fig, pine, orange zest, old saddle leather, espresso, and sea salt-infused dark chocolate. A fine & rare treat for a chilly autumn eve at home with loved ones. 🙂