Six of the Best Croatian Red or Rose Wines in 2017

By , 14 Jan 2018, 17:49 PM Bottle Reviews
Six of the Best Croatian Red or Rose Wines in 2017 Source: Pixabay

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The year behind us was a successful ones for Croatian wines, says sommelier Saša Špiranec

For example, at international competitions, especially the most significant ones such as Decanter and IWC, many medals were awarded from the most prestigious order, such as trophies, platinum or gold, which is not a consequence of a medal inflation or decrease in standards, but a confirmation of a constant growth of domestic wine quality in the past two decades. Even more, it seems that commission at such competitions are more rigorous and the number of samples keeps rising, with some countries in the Croatian neighbourhood did not manage to win any awards. The current high quality of domestic wines is also a consequence of good harvests in 2015 and 2016 which are dominating the market currently. Those harvests truly had plenty of ripe and healthy grapes for every winery. In such an abundance of highest quality wines, we’ve decided to single out 6 of the best red or rose wines, Jutarnji List published on January 12, 2018.

The Benvenuti family was the first in Istria to tame the wild character of the local Teran variety and made it into a great wine worthy of any table and any opportunity, no matter how festive or demanding it may be. Grapes for this Teran are grown in the Španjole vineyard near Motovun, at up to 300 metres above sea level, among the highest vineyards in Istria, where the continental climate is on par with the Mediterranean one. There were god wines before this one, even excellent Terans, but the Benvenuttis first noticed that partial drying of grapes on vines before the harvest (really late harvest instead of drying on straw) is beneficial to the balance of acids and ripeness in the wine. They lost quantity ad gained a nectar which disarmed even the fiercest critics of the variety. They schooled it for 24 months in oak barriques, macerated for 20 days, gained concentration and fullness and preserved the vivacious and resilient character of the wine. The value of such effort and undertaking was also recognized at the Decanter magazine competition which awarded this wine the trophy of best red wine in Croatia, platinum medal and 95 points. Dense dark Maraska cherry, dark chocolate, forest fruit and fine spice nuances are the main attributes of the scent, and balanced concentration, fullness, ripeness and firm tannin backbone are the characteristic of the taste. It can be kept for up to fifteen years from harvest, with an expected peak in years 6 to 8. A wine for collectionists.

The Meneghetti winery from the Istrian town of Buje was always in love with Bordeaux varieties in terms of red wine and Burgundy ones in terms of white wine. The 2011 harvest gave them the best wine by far and one of the best Croatian red wines in general. It is somewhat more concentrated in the mouth, reminiscent more of Pomerol than the left bank, but has a perfect balance, lingering, purity of aroma and impressive Merlot finish of ripe dark fruit and smoked spices. Has seriously large potential for keeping.

Although the Decanter magazine competition awarded the Malvazija by the Fakin family from Motovun a gold medal and 95 points, the real deal is actually this Teran with a silver medal and “only” 91 points. The Malvazija is no worse, on the contrary, but this red is yet to show its real face as for the variety and type of vinification it is a notorious teenager. It confirms the Motovun wine region has something that makes Terans exceptional. It has a layered and for the variety unusual intense scent of blackberries, forest fruit, hot spices and liquorice. The taste, on the other hand, is mighty and rich, heavily concentrated and deep, with a fantastic Teran freshness and juicy finish savour. Definitely to be kept for at least three more years in appropriate conditions.

The road of Frankovka in Croatia from an ordinary and simple wine with pronounced juiciness and lifespan of two to maybe three years, to a serious wine with character, intensive taste and potential for haute cuisine was enabled by the Feravino winery with their ambitious Frankovkas from the beginning of the decade. However, this cuvee from 2015 may witness the ideal use of Frankovka for future great wines based on this variety. A cuvee composed of 50% Frankovka, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc possesses elegance, layering and firm character of Bordeaux, and at the same time a super seductive juicy and fruity touch of modern Frankovka. A wine that makes us think and look forward to new harvests.

Few roses are made with the ambition to be wines dancing around for more than one summer, even less without the commercialized tutti frutti touch. The Rosina by naturalised Hvar resident Jo Ahearne belongs in that small group. It was made from the local Hvar variety Drnekuša whose colour is too pale to provide a regular and customary Dalmatian opaque and concentrated red wine, but ideal in content for an unusually peculiar rose, elegant, long and refreshing, with some red fruit, lots of minerality and lively herbs. It is not known how many centuries passed until this distant Adriatic island met someone who pointed out their younger child is not uglier or less talented, but simply different than the older one named Plavac, but it is known that person is Jo Ahearne.

The competition for the title of best Plavac from Pelješac is fierce, as the position is often claimed by Kiridžija, Korta Katarina, Miloš, Saints Hills, Bura, Grgić and others. Truly cutthroat competition. However, Kiridžija shining in the past years and has managed to maintain continuity. He presented the 2015 Dingač slightly before the leading group and the move, accidental or deliberate, proved to be a hit. The wine thrilled with concentration, richness, tamed force and excellent balance between ripe and overly ripe fruitiness and very discrete spices. A massive wine for special moment and abundant dinners. Of course it is now in its adolescent age and has a long life of at least ten years ahead of it. In the category of top red wines it actually offers a very good ratio of price and quality.

Translated from Jutarnji List.

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