Top Croatian Wines in the USA: Indigenous Grapes Grow Sales

Cliff Rames, founder of Wines of Croatia and sommelier, writes about indigenous Croatian grapes making the most impact in the United States market for Total Croatia. On January 21, 2016, I asked the top three American importers of Croatian wines to reveal which Croatian wines were best sellers in 2015 and provide clues about what new and exciting developments await in 2016. So grab a glass of your top Croatian wine and check out revelations below, listed alphabetically by producer, with tasting notes and added commentary by the importers about what made the wines successful in the U.S. Here are the wines we import: Bibich R6 2012 (Red) 34% Babić; 33% Lasin; 33% Plavina “This northern Dalmatia wine shows more smoke and Mediterranean herbs than heavy, overbearing fruit,” observed Eric Danch, Northern California Sales Manager at Blue Danube Wine Company. “There’s immediate life and levity without compromising its unique character. It’s a wine that can be readily be devoured at a casual dinner party and yet capture the attention of wine professionals.” Miloš Plavac 2010 (Red) 100% Plavac Mali “Plavac Mali has a much thicker skin than any of the three native grapes in the Bibich R6,” noted Danch. “The … Continue reading Top Croatian Wines in the USA: Indigenous Grapes Grow Sales

#WineWednesday Spotlight #6: Miloš Plavac Mali

Now that the holiday season is drawing to a close, we can take a moment to pause and catch our breaths. Our wallets are a little slimmer, and our waistlines a little larger after all the delicious holiday cooking and lack of exercise to which we’ve treated ourselves. Of course, as we assess our goals for 2016, we will try and reassign those adjectives, move those pounds from our paunch, convert them to dollars, and load up our bank accounts. Each year, I like to look back and see just how much I’ve accomplished, instead of constantly focusing on how far I still have to go. One major highlight of 2015 was a rather spontaneous “Cannonball Run” road trip through the Balkans over Easter, beginning in Austria and running the circuit down to Thessaloniki in Greece. This afforded me an opportunity to view a region of the world that is remarkably under appreciated. Each Slavic country boasts beautiful and picturesque landscapes, as well as a fierce sense of personal identity and pride to distinguish a uniqueness in each place. During the trip (and thanks to the linguistic acumen of my friend Danny and his fluent Serbian), we interacted with locals … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #6: Miloš Plavac Mali

A Danubian Thanksgiving

In preparation for this year’s holiday we have shared our favorite wines sourced from along the Danube river to enhance your celebrations. All of these wines are distinct in their own way but sure to pair beautifully with everything on your holiday table 2011 Kabaj Rebula $26.95 I first learned of the significance of cranberry sauce to the Thanksgiving table while skating on frozen cranberry bogs in Massachusetts with my then young children. I’ve since traded the bogs for the backyard orange trees of California. The best cranberry sauce is a simple and quick relish made with fresh cranberries, freshly-squeezed orange juice, peels, and sugar. No wonder the orange Kabaj Rebula wine from Slovenia pairs so well with that dish! Falling somewhere between a white and red, the wine has intense tannins contrasting with a funky, spicy orange-blossom aroma. It has excellent minerality, and a very enjoyable rich long finish. No need to switch to red for me. This wine is a perfect match for the Thanksgiving table for the recognized 100 Top Winery of 2015!” — Eugénie Cabot 2014 Martinčič Cviček $14.95 In the interest of eating and drinking for as long as possible on Thanksgiving, Cviček (Tsvee-check) is … Continue reading A Danubian Thanksgiving

Visit a Winery: Miloš in Ponikve, Croatia

The Region The former Republic of Dubrovnik was one of the most developed parts of Europe. Dubrovnik city served as the capital and the countryside was important for agriculture, famous for the production of high class olive oil and wines. The Pelješac peninsula has always played a key role since ancient times due to it’s salt beds and proximity to the neighboring, magnificent islands. The longest city walls in Europe were built around the Pelješac to protect against invasions. The Winery Miloš Winery is located just 6 miles away from Ston, where the Pelješac peninsula begins. So a visit is easy even if you are just passing by from Split to Dubrovnik, and don’t have a time to go all the way to the end of Pelješac peninsula. In their underground winery you can observe classic wine production, utilizing old large capacity oak barrels. Finally, there is a well appointed tasting room where you can taste their fine wines. For more adventurous wine lovers, be sure to reserve an off road tour through the vineyards to learn more about organic viticulture and manually farming on steep terraced slopes. Things to do and see Nearby Mali Ston bay is well known … Continue reading Visit a Winery: Miloš in Ponikve, Croatia

Interview with Cliff Rames, founder of “Wines of Croatia”

We caught up with our friend, and New York based sommelier, Cliff Rames, recently to share his thoughts on Croatian wine with you. Cliff also writes the popular blog, Wines of Croatia, which we encourage you to follow! 1. What makes you so passionate about Croatian wine? Well first, my father is from Croatia, so it’s in my blood I guess. When I was 16 years old my dad asked me if I wanted to go visit his birthplace, a small island called Murter off the Dalmatian coast. I said yes, and it forever changed my life. There I learned to drink Turkish coffee and “bevanda” – a mixture of red wine (usually homemade) and water. That kicked off my fascination with the local wine customs and traditions. It was then I also first heard of a mythological place called Dingač, the place from which (I was told by relatives) Croatia’s greatest wine came. I also began to hear words like Plavina, Debit, Babić, Plavac Mali, Pošip – the names of local grape varieties used to make wine. The more I heard and learned, the more I wanted to know! After that, back in the U.S., I found myself searching … Continue reading Interview with Cliff Rames, founder of “Wines of Croatia”

Croatian Wine Tasting at Bistro SF Grill

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you must go visit Bistro SF Grill! It is a cozy, intimate spot in San Francisco’s Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood. Co-owners Gino, Hasim, and Seni make you feel right at home with their slightly Balkan influenced menu and wine list; all three are originally from Bosnia-Herzegovina. We had the pleasure of spending an evening with them this week to celebrate our latest arrival of Croatian wine. The guys put together a flight of 5 wines for guests to choose which included: Bibich Debit, Šipun Žlahtina, Bibich G6 Grenache, Miloš Plavac Mali, and Dubrovački Crljenak Kaštelanski (aka Croatian Zinfandel). It was a fun night of exploration, good conversation, and wine! The experience is not complete without one of their fabulous burgers. I highly recommend the Balkan Burger, which is a lamb patty between pita bread with mint yogurt sauce.

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”. 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 … Continue reading A Grand Atypical Rosé

Miloš Stagnum: The Perfect Thanksgiving Wine

Stagnum, the flagship wine made from Plavac Mali grapes by Frano Miloš and his children is my first choice for Thanksgiving. Stagnum is the Latin name for the small Croatian town Ston where the Miloš family lives and tends their organic vineyards. Here,the Pelješac Peninsula connects with the Dalmatian mainland less than 50 miles north of Dubrovnik. If there is one Plavac which truly represents the land from where it comes and what this popular Croatian grape tastes like, it’s Stagnum. It’s not cheap but worth every single drop. The 2006 vintage we offer is excellent, making this wine a special treat for every wine lover. Miloš makes Plavac Pur!   The main reason that Stagnum fits so well on our Thanksgiving dinner table is its versatility. Naturally, Plavac pairs well with BBQ meats of all kinds. More surprisingly is that it also works very well with Turkey, Chicken, and even more gamey fowl. Most visitors to Dalmatia are amazed when they experience that Plavac also is a great match for Oysters regardless of how they are prepared: fresh on the shell with just a touch of lemon juice, or baked with bacon, hot sauce, and other flavorful condiments. Plavac also reminds … Continue reading Miloš Stagnum: The Perfect Thanksgiving Wine

Visiting Croatia with Eric and Michael: Miloš Winery

Not too long ago we had the privilege to host a significant part of the Miloš family: all three of the next generation. It was a pleasure to get to know Ivan, Franica, and Josip and learn more about the wine their father Frano creates back home in Croatia. Enjoy this next stop on the tour! -Gisele In a world that seems trapped in time, the amphitheater of Miloš vineyards spreads out beyond the boundaries of peripheral vision. Bright white stone reflects more sunlight than most Californians ever experience and between this abundant sun and stone live thousands of head trained Plavac Mali vines. Truly a magical place, the land is covered with rock walls built from the creation of these family tilled vineyards. The wonder of this place is only surpassed when compared to the visionary that created it, Frano Miloš. One of the memorable things Frano told us is that he’s aware that his wine-growing and winemaking are both at odds with the current pace of the world. And while he admits to sometimes driving with one hand and eating a sandwich in the other, making and drinking his wine is an opportunity to live a more fulfilling … Continue reading Visiting Croatia with Eric and Michael: Miloš Winery

Splendor of the Isles: Saveur’s Best Bottles from Croatia

In the new issue of Saveur Magazine, writer and radio host Brendan Francis Newnam takes us to his family’s homeland: the tiny island of Murter in Northern Dalmatia, sharing family stories and traditional seafood recipes: Skampi na Buzaru (Langoustines in Tomato, Garlic, and Wine Sauce) Crni Rižoto (a Black Cuttlefish Risotto) Riba na Rostilju (Whole Grilled Fish with Lemon) and Brodet (a Croatian Fish Stew made with white wine). “In Croatia, a fish must swim three times: once in the sea, once in oil, and once in wine,” explains the author’s cousin. While you enjoy reading the article, pour yourself a glass of one of Saveur’s wine recommendations from Dalmatia and Istria. We are proud to point out that 5 out of 6 are imported by Blue Danube Wine Co: Carić Vina Bogdanjuša 2012: If you haven’t heard of bogdanjuša, a grape from the Island of Hvar whose name means godsend, you’re not alone. Redolent of grapefruit peel and Mediterranean herbs, Carić Bogdanjuša 2012 ($17) is the first wine made from the rare grape to be exported to the U.S. Its citrusy flavor makes it a nice match for whole grilled fish. Coronica Malvasia 2012: Malvasia Istriana, one of Friuli’s … Continue reading Splendor of the Isles: Saveur’s Best Bottles from Croatia