Zlatan Plenković – Zlatan Plavac Grand Cru – 2003

This is the bigger (and much more expensive) brother of Zlatan Plavac barrique. Then of course, there is the straight Zlatan Plavac which is just a basic table wine. Still tasty, but definitely not the barrique and not the Grand Cru. So, what makes the difference between the Grand Cru and barrique worth $17? I’ll get to that.
For a little back story, ‘plavac’ is a grape varietal grown in Croatia that this is grape very, very closely related to California Zinfandel and they share the same root grape. This being the case, you definitely taste a lot of Zin in any Plavac Mali that you drink. Of course, you taste a lot of other things as well. In this case, the wine is quite dry. I would say that the Grand Cru is even a bit more dry than the barrique. There are the slight berry hints in the nose and an overall smoothness to the wine when drinking. As with any Old World wine, you’ve really, really gotta let this puppy decant before drinking. A half hour is mandatory. An hour is even better. Straight out of the bottle, the tannins are really strong, but given time to adjust to its short life in the air outside its homeland, the wine develops all kinds of subtleties. So many that I really don’t have a sophisticated enough nose or palate to understand all of them. Also, because there is a relatively high alcohol content in this wine compared to many European wines, your mouth is lose many of the swirling hints of various flavors as you you make your way down the bottle.
One flavor is particularly striking in the wine and I would say is the biggest difference between it and the barrique. It’s this flavor that I can only sum up as ‘dandelion’. That’s completely the wrong word, but to me, it’s a slightly acrid, dry flavor that you taste the longer the wine has been let to breath. I can’t say it was a flavor that I warmed towards, but it was definitely interesting and gave a great deal of texture to the taste. Of course, this is in addition to the other flavors that I’m most likely missing.
So, is this wine worth the price? If you have the tongue and nose for it, then yes, you’ll definitely find it a worthy wine. For me, I am a simple man and I find the barrique to be absolutely wonderful for my tastes. Both are deep, rich, and wonderful wines that when I serve them to friends, get the reaction, “This is from Croatia? I had no idea they made good wine.” Obviously, I want to keep the secret mine as I’m sure these will go up in price in time, but then again, I love to share wine that I love.