I was invited to participate in a Master Class of Croatian wines, sponsored by the Badel 1862 Winery. It was held at the Dubrovnik Restaurant in New Rochelle, NY and the seminar was conducted by Tina Klepac, winemaker at Badel and Aleksander Norsic of Wines of Croatia. Over the course of 3 hours we tasted 14 wines and a few more during lunch.
We learned that Croatia has 60 native varietals. It has a population of 4 million and 12 million tourists. It has a long wine history with wine artifacts dating from 500 BC found on the island of Hvar. There are 2 distinct wine areas: coastal (Adriatic) and continental.
Badel 1862 is the 3rd largest winery in Croatia with an annual production of 3 million bottles. They have more than one facility but the main cellar is in Zagreb.
We started with some whites: the local Grasevina, which depending on the area and soil produced 4 distinct types. My favorite was the full bodied floral style, but two of the wines were a lot lighter and without much character. I preferred the whites that didn’t see any time in oak. There was also a decent Sauvignon, but the main draw of Croatia are the reds, especially their claim to fame, the Plavac Mali.
The two that were absolute knockouts were the Ivan Dolac 2009, one aged in barriques and the other in stainless steel. Depending on whether you liked the added dimension of vanilla from the oak, they both had great expressions of fruit- and despite 7 years of aging, they still had years to go to reach their full potential.
We also tried a merlot, syrah and cabernet which were very enjoyable but look for wines from the Plavac Mali. You will be pleasantly surprised- and the prices- such a deal!