After a long hiatus, new Balkan wines from Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia & Herzegovina are finally here the second week of July. After looking over previous trip photos, putting together a fairly impressive Balkan playlist (currently listening to Dubioza Kolektiv), cooking some homemade Burek, and adding Ajvar to my morning eggs, I started to realize how much I missed these wines. The combination of salty, herby, oxidatively alive and zero to full tannins that both go with seafood sets these wines apart. We’ve even added some sparkling, sweet, Amfora, and some wines with 10+ years of age on them for good measure.
Starting near the Italian and Croatian border in Slovenia, the Štoka family has been farming for over 200 years. The reds are sanguine, high acid, seemingly Marasca cherry infused and pungent despite being low in alcohol. They make you want rare meat, charcuterie and basically anything cured or pickled. If you over do it, please consider making some “Istarska Supa.”
Directly south on western coast of Istria near the town of Umag is the Coronica winery. Moreno’s grandfather was Austro-Hungarian, his father was Italian, he was Yugoslavian, and now his children are Croatian. It’s a complicated area but the iron rich “Terra Rosa” soil hasn’t changed and the Malvasia Istriana is salty fresh and his Teran is one of the most elegant and layered in Croatia.
Off the Eastern Coast of Istria is the Island of Krk. Once considered a floating vineyard during its Venetian hayday, Šipun’s white Źlahtina and red Sansigot continue that tradition in the pink Karst limestone a stone’s throw from the Adriatic. Aromatic and textured without being tannic, the Sansigot is a great foil for seafood while the Žilavka drinks like Croatian Muscadet in terms of weight and acidity.
Drive south roughly 3 hours along the Dalmatian Coast and you arrive at Bibich Winery. The range of wines we’re offering reflects the diversity of local grapes and traditions while satisfying Alan’s entrepreneurial spirit. Stainless steel, skin contact, oxidatively aged, sparkling, cofermented, and even an unfortified passito like wine to name a few.
Stari Grad Plain on the Island of Hvar
Off the Southern Dalmatian coast, the Stari Grad Plain on the Island of Hvar has been farmed the same way for over 24 centuries (a UNESCO Heritage Site). Husband and wife Ivo and Ivana Carić farm a native white grape called Bogdanjuša, literally “a godsend” (Bogom dana), on this same land. Locals drink it with a seafood stew called “ForskaGregoda” chock full of Mediterranean herbs, olive oil and onions.
Miloš Vineyard on the Pelješac Peninsula
Miloš is one of those places that really must to be scene in person. A hand built terraced amphitheater overlooking the Adriatic with old vines clawing out of dolomite limestone on along Tomales Bay like Peninsula. The family has been making wine here for over 500 years and it’s still a family affair with all three children working under their father Frano. Structured and age worthy Plavac Mali with an undeniable “Friškina” or scent of the sea quality along with capturing the sun drenched herbs and olive trees of the Pelješac.
Josip Brkić showing his biodynamic agriculture book written by Austrian born philosopher Rudolf Steiner
Further south, the Brkić vineyards are between 800 to 1300 feet above sea level in Southern Herzegovina. The area was already making wine 2000 years ago by the Illyrians and continued during Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, and Yugoslavian rule all the way through independence in 1992. The white Žilavka and red Blatina grapes have a serious history and identity in this place and Josip’s farming and cellar work enable them to be transparent, pure and deliciously otherly.
Check our new Croatian arrivals on our webshop.