A guide to wine varieties in Croatia
Although coastal Croatia has been a wine region for centuries and the first manuscripts tracing back to the Ancient times when the Greek and Roman sailors used to sail all the way to Istria in order to taste the sweet ethereal juice, it has not until recently been world famous for its wines. In the past few years, Croatia is becoming more and more prominent on the international wine scene. Still, this does not mean that one can buy Croatian wine anywhere; it is pretty hard to find a proper Croatian wine on supermarket shelves in Western Europe. And therefore a trip to Croatia is the perfect opportunity to taste, see and enjoy the best of what Croatian wineries have to offer. And believe us, you will not be disappointed! In order to help you to muddle through the various wine varieties, varietals, indigenous wines and wine regions, we decided to present the most prominent varieties of each region. We hope that, after reading this text, you will be confident when entering a Croatian restaurant and ordering a bottle of Posip or Borgonja. So, let's start. Zivjeli!
Istria is a very special region. It combines so many different landscapes on a small territory. And still, vineyards can be found everywhere. On the coast, where the grapescgrown on the red terra rossa can soak up the sun while being caressed by the sea breeze, as well as in the fertile inland, around the hilltop towns, profiting from the minerals and vitamins of the fertile marl, clay, and sandstone. On this land, some of the famous Croatian varieties are being grown. Here is a list of typical Istrian wines:
-Malvazija: although the variety Malvasia is grown all over the Mediterranean, from Greece to Madeira, DNA analysis has shown that the Istrian Malvasia is different from all the other varieties of Malvasia. Even a glass was designed especially for this fresh, fruity wine by the Glass producer Riedel. It is grown all over Istria and a must-try if you are visiting this region. It is the most typical Istrian wine.
-Teran: Teran is Malvazija’s red counterpart, the most popular red wine in Istria. It is a hearty, ruby red wine with character, mostly grown in the western part of Istria on the red terra rossa.
-Borgonja: this is a lighter red wine, produced only by a few winemakers in Istria. It is a close relative of the Gamay grape that yields the French Beaujolais Nouveau.
-Muskat Momjanski: This wine is definitely the most successful variety from the Buje region in Istria. The grapes used for this wine are grown on the hills under Momjan and yield an amazing semi-sweet wine that goes excellently with desserts.
-Muskat Ruza Porecki: This is an indigenous Istrian grape variety, as well. It is known for its beautiful ruby-red colour. It is a semi-sweet wine, often with high alcohol content. Ruza means rose in Croatian, and this wine indeed has a wonderful rose petal perfume.
The southernmost region of Croatia is of course sun, sea and fun. And a glass of wine is the best companion if you want to sit in the sun, look at the blue sea and spend some wonderful time. Therefore, it is no wonder that for centuries grapes have been cultivated all over the Dalmatian coast and in the mountainous hinterland. Dalmatia has even more indigenous varieties than Istria, and its islands are offering another new micro-location for cultivating varieties that need a lot of insolation and Mediterranean climate. We have made a list of varieties that you should know about if visiting any of our villas in Dalmatia:
Plavac Mali- this is one of the most popular wine varieties in Croatia. It is a wine that is cultivated in the southern part of Dalmatia, especially on the peninsula Peljesac and the islands of Hvar, Brac and Vis. This is a strong red wine, with high alcohol percentage, that goes well with red meat and aged cheeses.
Debit- Debit is a white variety, grown in the northern and central part of Dalmatia. In the past few decades this variety has lost its popularity, but in the last few years it is gaining its popularity back again and the production has been somewhat reinvented. Definitely worth trying!
Dingac – should you decide to buy a bottle of Plavac Mali, there is a great chance that you will be offered a bottle of Dingac. Why is that? Because it is the same variety, in fact. The name Dingac defines the protected area of origin, situated on the southern side of the peninsula Peljesac, known for its extreme steepnes. The Plavac wines from this region are considered to be of the highest quality and have high alcohol content.
Postup- Postup is a neighbouring region of Dingac and is as well distinguished as a protected winegrowing region. The variety is the same, the location is similar, but the wine still a bit different. We suggest you to do some wine tasting with these two wines in order to see which of the two suits you better.
Posip-this is probably the most popular white-wine variety in Dalmatia. The most successful wine-growing regions for this wine are the island of Hvar and the island of Korcula, the island of its origin. It is a dry wine, very fresh and fruity. It is perfect for fish dishes and lazy afternoons with a view onto the sea.
Of course, you will find many other indigenous wines in Croatia, like Hrvatica, Marastina, Vugava or Grk, that you would enjoy, as well, but the wines from our list are the most prominent and therefore it is more likely that you will find them in restaurant menus or wine shops. And last but not least- we recommend you to taste some international wine varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot produced by Croatian winemakers, as well. There are some true gems among them!