There’s been a flurry of activity lately in regards to Croatian wines and more specifically, the Croatian wine growing region of Dingač. This is typical for this summer holiday time of year as people head to Croatia, find the beach and then find tasty wine to go along with it.
Now, there is often a bit of confusion around the term, Dingač. First and foremost, it’s a wine growing region in Southern Dalmatia. The wine generally planted there is the red grape, Plavac Mali, not a grape called “Dingač”. It’s just that due to this being the first protected wine region to be established in Croatia in 1961 (which was still Yugoslavia at the time) a great deal is made of a Plavac Mali wine that is grown in Dingač and thus it gives the appearance that this is a separate grape, when it’s not. It’s similar to how French Champagne is named after the region, but is usually comprised of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier grapes grown there.
This region produces amazing wines which is in no small part due to the 2,800 hours of annual sunlight as well as the light reflected off the Adriatic Sea at the base of it. But, an additional part of the allure is that while historically this region has grown grapes for centuries, it thoroughly sucked to harvest. With vineyards that often slope some 45 degrees towards the sea, the whole area can only really be worked by hand. Added in to this is that until 1973 you could only transport the grapes by donkey over the top of the Zabrada mountains. This was obviously not terribly optimal which led to the construction of the Dingač tunnel you see above that allowed direct access from the town of Potomje to the grapes, which you can see an aerial view of below.
But, the region has now attracted large investors to plant there in recent years including Saints Hills and the American insurance CEO, Robert Benmosche. Surprisingly, the American family behind Korta Katarina don’t have a Dingač release despite being just up the coast in Orebić. These investors have driven up the price of land a great deal in addition to producing wines that are very expensive and raising controversy. For instance, the Saints Hills Dingač costs at least $60 per bottle and as noted by many (including us) that it does not taste like a Dingač wine. Gone are the eucalyptus and licorice elements to the nose as well the qualities to the body that make the wines from this region strong, yet easily paired with meals. It’s not to say it isn’t a good wine, but it’s not a true Dingač wine other than having its grapes sourced from the region.
For those looking to visit, you’re going to be a bit let down unless you want to take the long road to Trstenik from Potomje. The only thing on these hills are the grape vines. There are no wineries of any sort to visit. That’s all on the other side of the tunnel in Potomje or with the exception of Grgić, in Trstenik.
This is something that Ernest Tolj of Saints Hills is trying to change as it is true that the view is quiet exquisite. Will this affect the winemaking in the region? Not if done well as some of the greatest wine regions in the world are all very touristic and when you balance visitors with viticulture, it can help to raise awareness of the region a great deal.
We talk a great deal more about Dingač as well as the other Croatian wine regions in our Dalmatian enotourism guide.
Álvaro Palacios - L’Ermita 2016
Very light red cherry, raspberry, tea leaves, dried fennel, light touch of anise, bay leaf, dried flowers, touch of fig compote, truffle. Exceptionally light and delicate on the palate, very very fine red fruits, integrated tannins, plush with a slightly buttery, velvety aspect, very long finish.
85% Grenache 14% Carignan 1% "Others" · 15% · 1160EUR
Ancestral Wine Cellar - Khikhvi 2014
First harvest of Khikhvi. Light apricot notes, peach skin, lemon peel. Citric in the mouth, fresh, lively acidity, vibrant. Very holistic, full and deliciously good.
100% Khikhvi · 12% · 30GEL
Álvaro Palacios - Les Aubaguetes 2016
Linear plum and dark cherry notes, powdery cocoa, orange peel and blossom, raspberry at the base along with minor vanilla and dark spice touches. Delicate on the palate, light touches of dark fruit, good wealth of tannins yet held in check, medium plus acidity, very long finish. Needs much more time in the bottle.
77% Grenache 21% Carignan 1% Grenache Blanc 1% Macabeu · 14.5% · 455EUR
Petriaant Marani - Khikhvi 2015
Bruised red apple, touch of lemon peel, limestone minerality, and some white pepper notes at the back of it. High acidity and full in the mouth. Luscious, involving, elegant wine.
100% Khikhvi · 14% · 25GEL
Aquila del Torre - Primaluce 2015
Bruised yellow apple, bit of fig compote, chalky mineral notes, and hazelnut. Light oxidized touches that work to embellish the wine. Rich palate that carries lovely texture with the age of the wine.
100% Sauvignon Blanc · 13.5%
Domaine Augustin - Adéodat Blanc 2016
Lemon and white peach, strong kick of salinity, and toasted notes. Very fleshy and full on the palate, peach notes more prominent as well as Meyer lemon, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish.
100% Grenache Gris · 14.5% · 20EUR
AA Badenhorst - Secateurs Red Blend 2012
Forest bramble with ripe red fruit, touches of cherry, ripe red plum, tiny bit of prune, cumin, anise, black licorice, wet cement mineral note, underlying fig jam. Crisp medium plus acidity, medium tannins, medium plus length, medium alcohol, overall medium plus body that’s ripe and lively but super fresh and balanced at the same time. Bit of rugged wildness to it but doesn’t get out of hand. Easy to drink but with just enough underlying complexity so that it stays interesting.
56% Syrah 27% Cinsaut 6% Grenache 4% Cabernet Sauvignon 7% "Others" · 13.5% · 12EUR
Domaine Treloar - Motus 2015
Dark ruby, minor rim. Big, mighty bouquet of red cherry and other brambly forest fruit, vanilla, almond blossom, orange peel, and cocoa. Rich and full on the palate with a wealth of tannins still integrating, leading into a crunchy, lingering finish.
80% Mourvèdre 10% Syrah 10% Grenache · 14% · 14EUR
Terroir Sense Fronteres - Guix Vermell 2017
Crisp red cherry fruit, touch of spice, flecks of pepper, baking spice, compacted, wet earth. Delicate on the palate, stays fresh, surprising high wealth of tannins, long finish.
100% Grenache · 13% · 250EUR
Tchotiashvili - Khikhvi 2014
Apricot, yellow peach, orange peel, and a touch of honey. Quite complex aromatically. Orchard fruit much more prevalent in the mouth with young apricot notes. Rich and elegant, touch of astringency in the finish.
100% Khikhvi · 13.1% · 28GEL