A Grand Atypical Rosé

One of the most unexpected wines of the season, has to be the Rosé  from Miloš winery in Croatia. Struggling to understand how this atmospheric mineral delight came to be, I called up Ivan Miloš who makes the wine with his father Frano for a little Q and A. And then I hope that like me, you’ll taste and enjoy this “truly serious, grand, atypical wine”.

Old vine Plavac

Miloš vineyards: Old vine Plavac amongs walled terraces of Dolomitic limestone.
Photo Credit: Frano Miloš

Why does Miloš make a Rosé?
The Miloš family farm has a very unique location on the Pelješac peninsula at the southern part of Croatia. We are 100% focused on that one spot planted with one grape, Plavac Mali. Combined with the dolomitic limestone of our terraced vineyards, it gives us grapes of such a unique quality, we simply wanted to show the richness of its pure juice, Rosé is the best way to do this.

Where did the idea to make a Rosé from the best grapes of the harvest come from?
We were tasting rose wines from other appelpations and countries, and we found very few which met our taste. Unfortunately, most rosé are light with almost no structure. We hate to hear statements from some winemakers like: “it’s a bad vintage, let’s make some rosé from our red grape”, So we did the opposite, we selected the best grapes from our old Plavac mali vines, from the very best locations, because we knew we could produce something unique.

How is Miloš Rosé made differently from other Rosé?
Our rosé is made from old ungrafted vines, organically grown on steep manually farmed terraces. It is obtained through the natural squeezing of freshly picked grapes fermented with native yeasts.

Fresh pressed Rose

Fresh pressed Miloš Stagnum Rosé. No maceration! Look at that color!
Photo Credit: Jošip Miloš

There is no maceration, but as Plavac Mali contains high amounts of polyphenolic compounds, thanks to small berries and thick skin, even in rosé made of it you find lots of polyphenols, and that is why our rosé is a complex, structured wine. Actually, for my Masters Thesis I researched the polyphenolic compounds of rosé and red wines made of Plavac from our vineyards, and compared them to other international wines. I found one large research project where more than 170 red wines from international market across several vintages where anylized, and found that average quantity of polyphenols are between 900-1200 mg/l. I then analyzed our rosé and found that it had almost 1000 mg/l. Like an average red wine, but it’s a rosé and really refreshing!

Is Miloš Rosé a reductive or oxidative wine?
Miloš Rosé is not a reductive or oxidative wine, it’s open and complete already at first sniff. During winemaking we let the wine develop more complex aromas, and we need oxygen for that. We don’t want to preserve just fruit because this is not a natural process and needs large amounts of sulfites, which we simply don’t want in our wines. Wine should taste like wine, not like grape must. Must is just a base of something much bigger.

What is unique about the Rosé Plavac Mali vines and their location?
Plavac Mali gives the best results gives when planted on the most challenging location. Our position is one big terraced amphitheatre, which is really hard to farm. But, the roots of our ungrafted vines are completely acclimatized to the terroir, they can always find enough moisture deep in our dolomitic limestone. And when vines get older they get even better, because their roots go much deeper, they have lower yield, bigger bush, and they award us with fruit with more complexity and acidity. This is what we are looking for when we harvest for rosé. The whole fruit selection is done in the vineyards. In the very south of Europe it is easier to find structure than freshness and good acidity in the wine, so that makes combination of Plavac and our location really important because we manage to get huge structure paired with freshness.

How can we taste this in the wine?
Sometimes, when you hear a story about a wine and then you taste it, you simply can’t relate the story with the wine itself. But, when you taste our rosé, with all its fullness, minerality, a little bit of salinity, the nice tannins, piquance and freshness, you can perfectly understand how and where we made it. This rosé is truly a serious, grand, atypical wine.

Old vine Plavac

Photo Credit: Frano Miloš
Old vine Plavac

Photo Credit: Frano Miloš