Dalmatian grape invaders

There is a bigger, boomier, more extracted article looming about the current state of Dalmatian wines as I tasted last month at the Dalmacija Wine Expo in Split, Croatia but for now, I present this snippet. You see, the group at Taste of Croatia came up with doing a master class on foreign varietals in Dalmatia. Me being American by birth but Croatian through family descent and having returned to Croatia, they thought it would amusing to toss a Croatian football jersey on me with an “I Love Zagreb” hat (I guess the Dalmacija variant wasn’t available) representing the foreigner on Croatian soil to give my opinion of the wines as well as looking like a sausage stuffed in to a šahovnica casing.

Marion Podolski wrote up the whole thing on her site Go Hvar as well as for Taste of Croatia. But naturally, I’m opinionated and so following are some of my takes on the wines served.

The Prović Chardonnay 2013 as well as their Cab/Merlot blend were a surprise to me when tasting them as I’d never encountered them before. There is very little wine grown in the Neretva Delta as it’s a very fertile region having been drained of the bogs, mosquitoes, and malaria only a century ago leaving a rich silt base to the soil that lends it the moniker of the “California of Croatia”. This usually translates in to grapes that over-produce and are thus make flabby wines. This is not the case with Prović and it was quite interesting to see that they’re achieving a good deal of success in making nuanced wines in this region and I look forward to seeing what they produce in the future.

The Krolo Chardonnay Barrique 2013, PZ Masvin Merlot 2013, Crvik Negromant Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, and Korlat Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 were all pretty typical of French grapes planted outside of France. Nothing really jumped out and while adequate wines, there was little about these wines that spoke out as to showing the locale from which it came. That said, the Korlat was a massive improvement over what I tasting at Zagreb Wine Gourmet 2013 which I can attribute to either a big change in enology or simply due to the vines being a touch older.

Then we come to the Tomić Caplar 2009 – Cabernet Sauvignon/Plavac Mali. This I tried at Paradox right before the wine fair and my opinion of it then was the same as during this master class. I simply don’t understand what the hell they’re trying to do with this wine. Northern and southern grape blends are often tricky but this is just foolhardy as both grapes are battling for dominance and neither comes up the winner. The aromatics of it are a wacky mess and unclean. The only thing I can think of is that Andro Tomić is making this wine to show the potential of Plavac Mali when stacked against such a dominant French grape, which is one of the reasons I chose another of his wines for this tasting.

As for the Bibich G6 Grenache 2012, Kuća Glavić Syrah 2013, and of course, the Bibich Bas de Bas 2010 these all show the potential of Syrah and Grenache in Dalmatia which seem very much at home in the region. I’ve dedicated a lot of space to these in the past and probably will in the future as Mr. Bibich is making sharp wines in his Northern Dalmatian neighborhood. Of course I found that some of his neighbors are hot on his trail…

Lead photo by Julio Frangen