On the Dalmatian Coast Looking for Great Wineries

Andro and Peter Cvrik

In our quest to find some of the finest wineries in Croatia, we started near Dubrovnik at the Crvik Winery. Andro Crvik and his son Peter are carrying on a 500 year history of family winemaking. With a production of about 125000 bottles they sell most of their wines in Croatia and export little if at all. Although they produce still and sparkling white wines from native grapes such as posip, their strong suit are the reds. I personally liked their plavec mali, supposedly the ancestor of Zinfandel. Son Peter at 26 years seems poised to takeover the winery with a bent on experimentation. He served us some cabernet/merlot/syrah blends that were indeed world class. But I often say to myself: why do I come to Croatia to taste international varieties?

Our next day we left on our tour in a northernly direction taking the seaside road with

Picnic in Croatia

spectacular vistas. We stopped for a picnic lunch high on the mountains that follow the coastline and had 5 different wines, including a red from Bosnia that we bought when we had to pass through that country and a Zinfandel from California winemaker and tour participants Bruce and Barbara Adams. Not a drop was left of any of the wines and Bruce is on his own personal quest to find the plavec mali that is reminiscent of a good Zin.

That evening we had a signature highlight event: dinner at the Bibich winery in the

Dinner at Bibich Winery

Sibenik area north of Split. Allen Bibich and his wife have a world-class operation: they produce top wines and his wife works in the kitchen to prepare a 9 course gastronomical dining experience. Everyone said it was the highlight visit so far, although I personally liked the Tomic wines we had on Hvar better.

Bibich exports 60% of their wines, mostly to the USA so there is decent availability on the East and West Coasts through Blue Danube Importing Co. They served us a still and sparkling wine made from the local debit grape. There is a certain flavor profile of some of these indigeneous varieties that takes getting used to. Is it bitterness, a cottony feeling on the mouth? I can’t put a handle on it just yet. Their version of the white posip- P9- had the full bodied flavor and aroma reminiscent of sauvignon blanc again with that mystery element. We also had an ’08 debit from a single vineyard 54 years old that was barrel aged for 30 months in new oak and batonage. It had acquired a creaminess that was appealing. The rosé from syrah- Think Pink- was fruity and refreshing.

As for the reds I prefered-and bought- the R 6 2009, a field blend of 3 local grapes: babich, plavian and lasin. This said “I am Croatian!” Unique flavors that I found very appealing.

Lastly there was a merlot ’07 Sangreal that was aged 30 months in oak and was reminiscent of a good pomerol. This is a winery to watch and try so look for them in the States.

Incidentally we learned last night that there are 178 indigenous grape varieties in Croatia!

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