The Crljenak Showdown
Some time back, we had our first taste of the newly-invigorated Crljenak being released by Zlatan Plenković. Again, as quick fly-by primer, Crljenak (or Crljenak Kaštelanski or Pribidrag) is the genetically identical grape to Zinfandel in California and Primitivo in Italy. When crossed in a loving embrace with Dobričić, we ended up with the Plavac Mali that has grown to be so popular in Dalmatian wines these days.
Since this initial bottle by Plenković, other Crljenak-based wines have come the market. I was able to taste all of them last April in Zagreb with the exception of the Mimica 2008 Pribidrag from Kuća sretnog čovjeka in Omiš. Maybe our paths will cross the next time. Anyways, without further ado:
Zlatan Plenković Crljenak 2008 opens up with a rich, promising nose. But, the body lets you down a bit after that and the finish comes up far too dry for my tastes. I had a bit of trouble getting to the underlying grapes and faced similar problems with this bottle as I had experienced with it a year earlier. Someday, I assume they’ll put out the 2009 and then it will be interesting to see where this bottle is headed given that the vines are still quite young and wrangling a new grape in to shape is never an easy task.
Benmosché Zinfandel 2010 is a wine produced by Bura-Mrgudić for the American, Benmosché family out near Orebić. Apparently, there hadn’t been vineyards there for 100 years until they decided that it would be an optimal spot to plant them and in the process discovered wild Crljenak vines growing there. Overall, the wine is quite fruit-forward in the nose and in the body. It wasn’t my favorite of the group, primarily because the vines just need more time to grow and mature. Given that time, this will probably morph in to a quite proper wine, if the other bottles by Bura-Mrgudić are any indication. Also important to note is that this is not technically Crljenak given that these are Californian Zinfandel vines planted there, but given that “Zin” and “Crl” are genetically identical, I thought I’d include it.
Vuina Crljenak 2010 has a light, delicate nose with a hint of underlying spices. This carries in to the body as well creating a very articulate bottle that’s one of the best expressions of the grape. It still smarts of being from vines that are a scratch young, but at the same time, Vuina (who are located near Trogir where the first Crljenak vines were found) are creating a very solid wine.