If you have ever been to Croatia, you have probably tasted this little blue grape that goes by the name of Plavac Mali. This is the primary red wine grape grown along Croatia’s beautiful Dalmatian coast. The translation is just that, little blue grape.
Plavac Mali isn’t the easiest grape to pronounce so I can understand why you might feel intimidated by this little blue grape. Here is some help with the pronunciation, Plah-vahts Mah-lee. Say that 5 times!
Most people don’t even realize that Croatia produces wine but that is mainly due to limited exports. Croatia has been producing wine for more than 2,400 years.
What Kind of Wine is Plavac Mali
This autochthonous Croatian grape is a cross between Tribridrag (Crljenak Kaštelanski) and Dobričić grapes. Tribidrag is also known in Italy as Primitivo and in the USA as Zinfandel.
Plavac Mali grows best in the intense sun heat along the Dalmatian coast. You will find it growing in the Pelješac peninsula, as well as the islands of Hvar, Brač, and Korčula. The best areas for Plavac Mali are Dingač, Postup and Žuljana.
What Does Plavac Mali Taste Like
Plavac Mali is a full-bodied red wine that is high in alcohol and is sometimes described as a rustic wine. It has great aging potential. It is highly recommended to decant this wine a couple of hours before serving.
Plavac Mali wine generally has flavours of cherry, berries, spice and pepper.
Where to Buy Plavac Wine
You can find Croatian wines in Ontario, Canada mostly online at the LCBO. For most of the wines, you can order them for pickup at your nearest location.
The fastest way to order Croatian wine is through Croatia Unpacked. They have a great selection of Croatian wines and they are delivered right to your home.
Top Plavac Mali Wines To Try
If you are a wine lover, you can’t leave Croatian without visiting the Pelješac peninsula. These vineyards are impressive with slopes at almost 50° and great views overlooking the sea.
Grgic Plavac Mali
If you are a California wine lover then I am sure you have heard of Mike Grgic and Grgich Hills in Napa Valley. Did you know that Mike Grgic is Croatian and has a winery in Croatia?
Grgic Vina was established in 1996 by legendary Napa Valley winemaker, Croatian-born Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, his daughter, Violet Grgić, and his nephew Ivo Jeramaz.
Mike started the winery to produce the finest wines from native Dalmatian grapes and concentrates on crafting Croatia’s very best varietals: Plavac Mali and Pošip.
The wine has been produced according to the methods of Miljenko Grgić and under his supervision.
Some fun info: When Mike Grgic came to the Napa Valley in 1958 to make wine, he noticed a remarkable resemblance between the Zinfandel and Plavac Mali of his native Croatia. Some 35 years later, Mike worked with scientists at the University of California, Davis, to prove that Zinfandel was actually Crljenak Kaštelanski, a grape native to Croatia and parent of Plavac Mali.
This Grgic wine is made with 100% Plavac Mali grown in Dingac and Postup on the Pelješac peninsula. It has flavours of ripe black fruit, dried fig, stewed plum, cherry, Mediterranean herbs, and some chocolate notes. This is a big wine that needs to be decanted or aerated and pairs well with all red meat, especially a steak dinner.
If you are a Zinfandel lover then you should give this Grgic Plavac Mali a try.
Zlatan Otok Plavac Mali
This iconic Zlatan Plavac is a red wine made from carefully selected Plavac Mali grapes from the southern slopes around Sveta Nedjelja.
Once you see these steep slopes of up to 40% incline and let’s not forget the intense heat, you will start to understand the work that goes into producing a bottle of wine.
All grapes are harvested by hand as the slopes are too steep for any machinery. The wine ages 15 to 20 months in barrique barrels of 225 liters and an additional 6 months in the bottles.
This is a full-bodied wine with velvety tannins and notes of dried plums, figs, cherries, and Mediterranean spices.
This wine was awarded gold and silver medals at Croatian and international competitions and was also awarded several times as a champion.
Rizman Brime Plavac Mali
This Brime from Rizman winery is made from 100% Plavac Mali. It has bold flavours of cherries and plums with a slight smokey flavour and is high in tannins.
This wine needs to be decanted at least one hour before drinking and could easily age for a couple of more years.
Volarevic Plavac Mali Gold
This Volarević Plavac Mali Gold has complex aromas of plum, berries, pepper, dried fruit, and Mediterranean herbs.
The flavours that come through for me are plum, berry, pepper, leather, chocolate, and a smooth smokey vanilla finish. It is well balanced with its smooth tannins, complex body, and soft acidity. My 90% dark chocolate paired perfectly with this wine.
Volarević Vineyard is located 70 km northwest of Dubrovnik along the beautiful Dalmatian coast, in the heart of Komarna.
Komarna is the youngest wine-growing designated region in Croatia. The Komarna vineyards are a specific terroir on which the cultivation of indigenous Croatian varieties such as Plavac Mali, Tribidrag (Crljenak Kastelanski, Zinfandel), Pošip, and Maraština have been producing exceptional wine.
I would recommend decanting this at least one hour before drinking to allow the wine to breathe and bring out all the wine’s flavours.
Saints Hill Dingac
This Saints Hills 100% Plavac Mali from Dingač is full-bodied, deep ruby red in colour with intense aromas of cherries, blackberries, and a slight smokey tobacco scent.
It has beautiful flavours of dark berries, dark chocolate, and Mediterranean spices. It is a well-balanced wine with silky tannins and a long finish. I would recommend decanting this wine at least one hour prior to drinking it.
Dingač is made from 100% Plavac Mali and is full-bodied, with intense aromas of cherries, blackberries, and a slight smokey tobacco scent with flavours of dark berries, dark chocolate, and Mediterranean spices.
Wine Enthusiast (2020) – 94 pints!
Saints Hills Sv Roko
This Saints Hills “Sv. Roko” Plavac Mali is made from the Plavac Mali grape. This is a full-bodied ruby red wine with aromas of berries, plum, and fig followed by some herb scents along with vanilla with some wood and leather aromas.
This Saints Hills “Sv. Roko” Plavac Mali is made from the Plavac Mali grape. This is a full-bodied ruby red wine with aromas of berries, plum, and fig followed by some herb scents along with vanilla with finishing woody and leather aromas.
Wine Enthusiast (2020) – 92 points.
Stina Plavac Mali Majstor
The translation of “Plavac Mali Majstor” is “little blue master”. This wine is made from the little blue grape known as Plavac Mali. The small grape with big flavours.
Stina Plavac Mali Majstor is made from this small blue grape that has full-bodied flavours. This wine is a bold red colour with notes of blackberry, figs, and spice. It is a full-bodied wine with flavours of berries, cherries, dried figs, and spices.
Korta Katarina Placac Mali
This Korta Katarina Plavac Mali is a full-bodied wine with smooth and balanced flavours of cherry, plums, dried and stewed fruit along with Mediterranean herbs and spices.
Stina Cuvee Red
If you haven’t tried Croatian wine yet, this Stina red wine blend of the classic indigenous grape, Plavac Mali (70%), along with international varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon (10%), Syrah (10%), and Merlot (10%)) is a great entry into the Croatian wine world.
This Stina Cuvée Red is a medium-bodied wine with bursts of berry flavours, along with plum, cherry, and some chocolate notes. It is best served at 16 – 18°C
Pairs great with charcuterie and red meats.
Volarevic La Chic
Fermentation took place at low temperatures to preserve the fruity and fresh aromas of the wine and aged for 5 months in stainless steel tanks.
As soon as I opened this wine I got intense aromas and flavours of freshly picked strawberries. This Croatian rosé would pair perfectly with seafood, salmon, charcuterie, and soft cheeses.
Make sure to serve this wine at the recommended serving temperature of 10 – 12°C.