In mid-January, in a span of three days we tasted older harvests of two renowned Croatian red wines – Laguna Castello 2007 and Baković Plavac Murvica 2002. Castello’s later harvests gained numerous favourable reviews and a champion trophy at the Decanter World Championship. Plavac Murvica is a cult Dalmatian wine with a very faithful following.
Among the Croatia wine audience, and a good number of professionals, there is a conviction that domestic dry wines cannot age successfully. Frano Miloš began to counter this prejudice with his 2003 Stagnum released to the market ten years after the harvest. Certain bottles of Vedran Kiridžija, whether Dingač or Plavac, also benefit from aging, while among white wines Ivica Matošević and his 15-year-old Malvasias enticed a discussion on realistic possibilities of qualitative changes of Istrian Malvasia.
Castello 2007 definitely speaks in favour of the option of aging domestic wines, but also of problems that can occur during the process. We tasted two bottles of Castello from the same crate, stored in the same conditions. The first bottle was near death. Finely and characteristically for older wines, it smelled of truffles and moist forest leaves, but lost freshness and fruit.
The second Castello 2007 was fresh and vibrant as if the harvest was two years ago. There were primary and tertiary aromas on the nose, while the taste was full of sweet red and dark fruit. The wine was in its peak, meant to be sold right now in restaurants and upscale shops (if available in sufficient quantities). The difference between the two bottles should be attributed to the cork. At the time Laguna used short and low quality corks, which enabled oxidation. The good bottle of Castello 2007 proves, firstly, that the Istrian potential to produce superior red wines is truly great, and that the Castello brand may be our most undervalued red wine. For seventy kuna you can have a wine of serious international class and long life.
Plavac Murvica also surprised us. We were never fans of Baković wines, as they chronically lack a middle palate. There is regularly an unpleasant void in the middle of the tongue, which often separated solid from superior wines. Not counting this mistake which is found also in the 2002 harvest, The Baković Plavac bore its years quite well. It is also full of fruit, soft, unusually elegant and quite a pleasure. Red-brown colour on the edge of the glass is the only indication the wine is fifteen years old. It would be useful if one of the many Croatian wine manifestation would introduce mandatory tasting of older wines by regions and varieties. It is high time for the Croatian wine market to begin valuing harvests, not just brands, as it is high time we meet the actual possibilities of aging our superior wines.
For the original and more from Plava Kamenica, click here.