Five Croatian Wineries Achieve High Ratings at Wine Enthusiast

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“Everyone within the Croatian Wine Alliance is excited that Croatian winemakers are getting rewarded for the quality of indigenous varieties, and we encourage wineries to continue to submit wines to leading global ratings and competitions,” said Mirena Bagur, the leader of the Croatian Wine Alliance, and founder of Croatian Premium Wine Imports, Inc., importer and online retailer with 70+ Croatian wines. “According to Wine Enthusiast’s rules, all wines need to be available for purchase in United States and they ship to most states.”

“We are honored that our wines are recognized by this magazine of global impact,” said Ernest Tolj, owner of Saints Hills Winery, Croatia. “A few years ago, it was unthinkable that Croatian wines would get more than 91 or 92 points, because there was limited understanding of our indigenous varieties. With persistent work on marketing, promotions and tastings specifically of Plavac Mali which deserves global attention, our wines St. Roko and Dingač St. Lucia started to get 93, 94 and 95 points, which was a sign that things are changing. Now, with 97 pts for the 2016 Ernest Tolj Plavac Mali Dingač, the bar has been raised high. The sky is the limit, and that motivates us even further.”

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Description automatically generatedThe five wineries rated with 90+ points by Wine Enthusiast in the August/September Buying Guide issue are:

  • Saints Hills:  various appellations
    • Dingač:  97 to 2016 Ernest Tolj Plavac Mali Dingač; 95 to 2017 St. Lucia Plavac Mali; 93 to 2017 Black Plavac Mali 
    • Istria: 94 to 2020 Le Chiffre Chardonnay; 93 to 2021 Mala Nevina (Malvasia and Chardonnay)
  • Volarević Winery, Komarna Appellation:  95 to 2018 Platinum Plavac Mali; 94 to 2016 Gold Edition Plavac Mali; 91 for 2015 Plavac Mali 
  • Terra Madre Winery, Komarna Appellation: 91 to 2016 Plavac Mali Premium; 91 to 2016 Komarna 7 Plavac Mali; 90 to 2016 Plavac Mali Barrique 
  • Fakin Wines, Istria:  90 for La Prima Malvasia Istriana 2018 

Plavac Mali variety is grown in the southern-most wine region of Croatia – Dalmatia. Its name means ‘little blue’, referring to its appearance, small and dark blue berries. As a late-harvest variety growing under harsh conditions, it involves a complicated winemaking process which is why the winemakers have a saying that they need to “tame” it.  

“We have conducted three years of scientific research about the influence of harvest date and length of maceration on polyphenolic and sensory characteristics of Plavac Mali, and our 2018 Platinum Plavac Mali is the first commercial vintage produced based on the research,” said Josip Volarević, M. Sc. Agriculture, owner and winemaker of Volarević Winery.  “I am proud to have received 95 points for a young vintage of Plavac Mali, which spent only eight months in oak barrels. The rest of the aging will happen in a bottle, so I can only look forward to seeing what the future brings. We have already used the early findings of this methodology when producing the previous vintage of Gold Edition, and that is consistent with receiving 94 points for this wine, also from the Komarna appellation.”  

A person standing next to barrels of wine

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Photo from Croatian Premium Wine: Josip Volarevic, M. Sc.. Agriculture, Volarevic Winery with research samples of Plavac Mali. 

About Plavac Mali – Indigenous Croatian Red Variety

The UC Davis and University of Zagreb conducted a DNA study of the variety only to discover that Plavac Mali (vitis vinifera) is a descendant of Zinfandel (aka Tribidrag or Crljenak Kaštelanski) created by a natural hybrid with another indigenous variety, Dobričić.  Plavac Mali produces several styles of wines, from medium-bodied and easy-drinking, to elegant and robust wines. The aromas in Plavac Mali are predominantly dark berries and Mediterranean herbs with expressive tannins, and mineral on the palate. 

The annual production of Plavac Mali is over five million bottles annually, which is 7.5% of the total Croatian wine production, according to the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, and due to its distinct taste and a capacity to age well is the most likely red wine purchased and exported by both the wine industry and consumers. 

About Wine Enthusiast Companies

Wine Enthusiast magazine is an award-winning print publication and online resource that showcases wine and food trends, enotravel, and provides over 25,000 ratings and reviews annually. The content ranges from the beverage industry news which evolves quickly and constantly, to expert analyses and feature reporting.  Details on all ratings are searchable here  Wine Enthusiast Companies is composed of Wine Enthusiast Media and Wine Enthusiast Commerce and is building the Wine Enthusiast Showroom, Education and Tasting Center (or Wine Enthusiast SET Center) at the corporate office in New York, reinforces the company’s value of continued learning and serves as a hub for the company’s long-standing practice of blind tasting wines for all ratings. 

About the Croatian Wine Alliance – a Public-Private Collaboration

Lead by Croatian Premium Wine Imports, Inc., an online store shipping 70+ indigenous Croatian wines in the US, the Alliance raises awareness of premium Croatian wines and supports the work of Wines of Croatia within the Croatian Chamber of Commerce; The Croatian National Tourist Board. Participants are Croatian wine importers and distributors in the US, Canada, Australia, and Europe, as well as Croatian wineries.  

To read more about sports in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.


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