Continuing TCN’s look at the indigenous grapes of Croatia on October 5, 2016, a look into the sixth most abundant Croatian wine variety – and one that most people have never tasted as a varietal wine.
Croatian Bureau of Statistics recently published a very interesting report for any wine-lover in Croatia: Basic Survey on Vineyard Structure. Total Croatia Wine has discussed some aspects of the published results, but one of the things that got my attention is the variety taking sixth place of the most widespread varieties with Protected Designated of Origin: Plavina (sometimes also called Plavka or Plajka). While it was always considered to be the indigenous Dalmatian variety, only recently has it been proven that it is. In fact, it’s a direct descendant of Tribidrag, probably originating in the same region of central Dalmatia as Tribidrag itself. It is grown and cultivated all along the Croatian coastline (except in Istria), and unlike most other Dalmatian varieties that enjoy cheap karst soil with not much to give, Plavina is the wine that needs more richer soil with more moisture, and can yield much higher yields under those circumstances – and does that almost every year, since it’s quite resistant to almost all bad things that can happen to a vine. The wines it gives are usually lighter (around 11 or 12 percent alcohol content), not too dark in colour, relatively fresh and somewhat lack any characteristic flavour – it’s rather neutral, one might say. The sugar content is rather high, and so are the acids in the berries. So, you are perfectly aware that what I’ve just explained is the ideal variety of red wine to be blended with other varieties since it yields a lot, and most other varieties in the same locations don’t manage to get a high yield, and are held to a much higher regard. And that’s exactly what happens to almost all of Plavina production in Croatia – it gets blended with other varieties, either legally (being disclosed on the label) or added without the honourable mention, to increase the volume of production of the reds held in higher esteem. Plavina is also very valuable for the producers of prošek, and along with Plavac Mali it is the most used red wine for the production of prošek.
Some producers have attempted making, bottling and selling varietal Plavina, but the number is rather low. The best locations for Plavina production are around Skradin (central Dalmatia) and in Neretva region, and Skradin winemakers Sladić family make wonderful reds (and roses) in their family’s wineyards. Vinoplod winemaking company from Šibenik is the only larger producer bottling and selling Plavina, and Odžaković family restaurant near Benkovac also offers it, and theirs has received the award for the best Plavina in 2015. Dumančić family also offers it in their restaurant in Oklaj, and other producers will probably have it – although, not a lot of them will not have blended it with other varieties.
Croatian scientists are trying to create the best clone selection of Plavina, to produce the best possible genetic material, and then to try and plant those at the best locations for the grapes, and that way try and create the premium red wine, one that might compete with Plavac Mali in quality and popularity. We wish them the best of luck with that!