A Croatian quartet: Palihnić Dingač, Senjković Rosé, Degrassi Cabernet Sauvignon Contarini and Matuško Postup

For those of you who need a refresher (or are just eager to learn!), in Slovenian and Croatian č, š and ž are pronounced “ch”, “sh”, and “zh”. ‘J’ is soft, as in the ‘y’ in you. So Dingač is pronounced Din Gaach. The Croatia ć is similarly, a “ch” sound, too.
Palihnić Dingač 2013, Dalmatia, Croatia
Senjković Rosé Spoža 2015, Brač, Dalmatia, Croatia
Degrassi Cabernet Sauvignon Contarini 2012, Istria & Kvarner, Croatia
Matuško Postup 2012, Postup, Dalmatia, Croatia

I’m finally gathering notes to gradually close the book on 2017, a year that was all over the map wine-wise. A good place to start is with this brief summary of some wines from Croatia that I recently enjoyed, from regions very close to home that until this year I hadn’t really taken much time to explore more deeply. Even with a long-standing love for Dalmatia’s deep dark full-bodied Mali Plavac, I’ve barely begun skimming the surface. Becoming much more fluent in Croatia’s viticultural scene is very high among my 2018 resolutions.

First up:

Palihnić Dingač 2013
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Palihnić Dingač 2013, Dalmatia, Croatia
This one rang true to me from the moment I pulled the cork. Largely, I admit, because I had no idea what to expect. Palihnić is new to me, and I’ve only recently begun delving into the Dalmatian world that is the Pelješac peninsula’s Dingač region and its steep, hot and sun-drenched slopes that are home to Croatia’s best Plavac Mali. I’m a long time Zinfandel fan, too; Plavac’s family ties to Zinfandel —Zin is one of its parents— adds to the intrigue. Maybe it was that connection, so obvious from the start, that drew me into this wine.

Fruity, jammy and herbal, but remarkably drinkable. Maybe dangerously drinkable, given its 15% alcohol. Carrying that much power, the balance reached is no small achievement. But it works remarkably well. The alcohol becomes a bit more pronounced on the finish, but no matter. For the price, this is a sensational wine. I opened this shortly after the fireworks struck midnight on New Year’s Eve. I’ll take it as a sign that that bodes exceptionally well for 2018.
€13.50 retail / tasted Jan 2018

Senjković Rosé Spoža 2015, Brač, Dalmatia, Croatia
Made from Plavac Mali, this was a knockout. Watermelon, melon, old skool chewing gun and more on the palate, giving way to a plummy finish. If I had compiled a short list of the best Rosés I had in 2017, this would have been on it. I’ll jump at this opportunity to declare now that I will compile such a list in 2018. And taste this one again. A little more about the Senjković winery is here.
€12.50 retail / tasted Dec 2017

Degrassi Cabernet Sauvignon Contarini 2012, Istria & Kvarner, Croatia
I’ve read and seen much about Degrassi, widely accepted as an Istrian pioneer; this wine is ample proof of that and will provide a good bar from which to compare others. Accessible and delicious now, but it’s got enough backbone and tannin to live on several more years. Nice upfront fruit –prunes and ripe cherry — with a nice whiff of elegant spice. Very nice.
€16 retail / tasted Dec 2017

Matuško Postup 2012 Plavac Mali, Postup, Dalmatia, Croatia
Postup is Dingač’s neighbor, where the Plavac Mali is generally not quite as robust. That’s evident here, but like the Palihnić Dingač at top, it’s another big wine, where the chocolatey balances nicely with the leathery. Subtle perfume on the nose, with strawberries, herbs and raisons on the palate and rich cherries on the long finish. A pleasant mouthful. 14%. I’d like to meet up with this again, along with a few of its siblings.
Price NA / tasted Dec 2017

Senjković Rosé Spoža 2015 Degrassi Cabernet Sauvignon Contarini 2012
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