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22 Sep 2022 | Kevin Lepisto


Croatia has become a hot travel destination with its miles of stunningly beautiful coastline, Game of Throne featured ruins and warm Mediterranean weather, and in recent years wine enthusiasts are discovering they make great wine as well!   Winemaking in Croatia dates back thousands of years and flourished during Greek and Roman times, but its wine industry suffered greatly under communist rule and years of wars. The Croatian wine industry has since seen resurgence and the number of private producers has more than doubled since the late 1990’s.  Now Croatian wines have caught the world’s attention with young winemakers producing terroir driven wines from ancient varietals while utilizing modern techniques and focusing on quality over quantity.   With over 64 indigenous varietals, Croatian wines vary widely but are deliciously bold and distinctive and great with a variety of Mediterranean foods.

Here are some bold Croatian wines I recommend you try:

2020 Zlatan Otok Pošip, Hvar  $21.99

Pošip is an indigenous white grape to Croatia that is now grown exclusively in the Dalmation coast area.  Pošip is a medium bodied wine with plenty of ripe stone and citrus fruits and what the locals call “friškina” which means ‘scent of the sea.’   This is made for seafood but is bold enough to pair with white meats as well. The Posip grapes for this wine are grown on the Croatian island of Hvar. Posip indigenous to this area, with one of the oldest wine histories in the world. The name “Pošip” comes from a local word describing the specific shape of the berry, or it is because the original vines were grown adjacent to or around the local pomegranate trees (šipak), which grow abundantly in the area.

2021 Kozlovic Malvasia, Istria  $25.99

Malvasia Istriana is a native grape to Istria and distinct from other Malvasia grapes grown around the world. This is a classic example of the highly aromatic Istrian variety.   Aromas of white flowers and citrus are followed on the palate with crisp citrus, citrus zest and white stone fruit flavors.   A nice vein of minerality adds zip and freshness.

2021 Pomalo Plavina, Dalmatia  $20.99

Plavina is an indigenous grape to Croatia that is typically used as a blending grape.  Pomalo’s plavina is a fresh, chillable style red that’s pure easy enjoyment in a bottle.   From the vibrant violet-ruby color in the glass to the just short of tart red fruits on the palate, this will go down way to easy.  Great for a picnic or a summer concert at the Hollywood Bowl.

2021 Kozlovic Teran, Istria  $22.99

The Teran grape is found in Istria, Croatia and parts of Friuli, Italy.  Its characteristics are a deep, almost black-purple color with brambly and peppery aromas. On the palate Teran is deep with black and red fruits yet the wine remains energetic with lively acidity and hints of pepper and forest floor.  It's surprisingly dry with plenty of tannic structure to counter the dark fruit. 

2018 Bura-Mrgudic "Basina" Plavac Mali, Dalmatia  $26.99

Bura does amazing things with Croatia’s main red grape Plavac Mali, creating unique, fresh styles of this normally big, tannic red. Their Basina wine delivers all the depth, intensity and earthiness of Plavac but in a much more balanced and elegant style. It’s rich with great depth but soft and approachable.   The Bura family has one of the longest traditions of winemaking in Dingač and Croatia as a whole, spanning over sixteen generations -- since the year 1410!  Niko Bura’s vineyards are fully organic and are the truest expression of the microclimate and land of Croatia’s southern Dalmatian coast.

2015 Zlatan Otok Plavac Mali, Hvar  $28.99

Zlatan Otok was the 2nd private winery started in Croatia after Croatia became independent and is now one of the largest private wineries in Croatia.  The Plavac Mali vines for this wine come from some of the most breath-taking and dramatic vineyards in Croatia, if not the entire world - southern exposure, 35-45% drastic slopes of Hvar Island.  Their traditional style Plavac Mali is in a great spot right now with 7 years of aging.  It’s deep, rich and smooth with plenty of black and red plum fruits with plenty of Croatian “Friskina” or scent of the sea.   


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