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Winelovers Exploring Pelješac Peninsula - An Ancient Home of Plavac Mali

Written on 23-04-2015 by Dusan Jelic, Dubrovnik, Dalmatia

A very old Plavac Mali vine from Pelješac, Dalmatia

Winelovers Exploring Pelješac Peninsula - A Home of Plavac Mali  

On Tuesday, April 21, 2015 a group of judges and wine journalists, gathered for the second Dubrovnik FestiWine 2015 festival, visited a charming Pelješac Peninsula for a day. We have visited and tasted wines at the 5 truly great wineries and also had a superb lunch at Konoba Antunović in Kuna Pelješka. 

 

Rozić Winery

The Rozić family owns the winery and family house with an accommodation for tourists. Their property is located within the Mili vineyard area which spreads over 400-500 meters above the Adriatic Sea. On the other side, from the house, is a beautiful view over the Great Wall of Ston as well as the old town. The Rozić family owns around 70% of all the vineyards in the Mili area and within 4 hectares produces unique Plavac Mali wines.

Here you can see a few lovely images from the vineyard Rozić in the Mili area of Pelješac. 

 

Miloš Winery

We had a lovely and detailed chat with Frano Miloš and his sons Josip and Ivan. The idea was to discover a secret behind their wine philosophy. Miloš winery produces organic, natural wine, uses native yeasts, no filtering, with spontaneous fermentation and using a low level of sulfites, namely less than 40 ml per liter and Stagnum 2006, for instance, with only 10 ml per liter is almost sulfites free.

We have tasted 6 of their wines. A more detailed tasting notes are included below and a few images from our visit to Miloš winery could be seen here!

 

2013 Stagnum Rose

13.5% alcohol

This wine is full of freshness, fruitiness and piquancy. Simply a very noble rendition of Plavac Mali and wine that can rightfully be described as a serious, atypical and grand rose wine.  

 

2010 Plavac Mali

13.6% alcohol

Miloš family believes the quality of grapes is a key. Their grapes are with high polyphenols, high alcohol and it preserves wine without too much sulfites. Furthermore, a long ageing in barrel follows. Plavac Mali is a very tannic grape. Their wines have a lot of polyphenols, so it is felt like astringency. To put wine in barrique is unnecessary as there is no need to have additional tannins.

I picked some dark fruits on the nose, focused, precise. It is on the beginning of the climbing process. The freshness is outstanding. The acidity is great in this Plavac Mali. Freshness is not only acidity but also that elusive feeling… of crispness and freshness. Terroir is made from dolomite limestone with a lot of magnesium carbonate and it keeps the humidity. Pelješac terroir is the most important thing in making this wine!

 

2006 Stagnum

15% alcohol

I picked red fruits on the nose. This is the most elegant wine. Cherries dominate. It gained 92/100 points at the Wine Challenge Library Collection (5-10 years old wines). Stagnum 2006 has a fabulous tannin structure. Alcohol is superbly integrated and well-balanced and it is not felt. It has a bit of liquorish feel as it is not a fruit-forward wine. This Plavac Mali may remind some people to an aged Nebbiolo… from Piedmonte. You need to take a few bottles of wine to see how your soul reacts to it. You don’t get tired of drinking it… you always need more.

By the way 2001 Stagnum received 89/100 points at the 2011 Wine Challenge competition.

 

2003 Stagnum

14.6% alcohol

Plavac Mali grapes for this wine arrive from the same vineyard. This wine was aged for a long time: 3.5 years in a barrel and more than 6 years in a bottle. The wine was bottled in November 2013. It is released after 10 years of ageing in both barrel and bottle. The grapes came from 35 years old vineyard and more than 40 years of history.

Freshness and elegance are amazing for this wine. It ages slowly. Sometimes 2006 may appear older than 2003. Five years or so ago some people thought this wine cannot age; however it ages slowly and steadily. It was released just over a year ago and the creators believe it has the greatest potential and it can continue growing in a bottle for another 10 to 15 years or more! 

It is important to mention that Plavac Mali is more resistant than Crljenak Kaštelanski (a.k.a. Zinfandel) and was characterized by better adaptation to the local weather condition. That is why Plavac Mali rules on Pelješac peninsula. Miloš winery produced the very first Stagnum in 1992.

 

2007 Stagnum Semi-Sweet

16.5% alcohol

16 grams of residual sugar

Fermentation stops at 16.5% alcohol and it is not too sweet just a little bit and it is a good wine for food. This wine should be paired with game meat and blue cheese or dark chocolate, but not too sweet.

 

2007 Stagnum Dessert Wine

15.9% alcohol

95 grams of residual sugar

This wine is produced only in exceptional years. The grapes are dried on the grape vine for as long as the weather allowed. The drying process lasted for about two months. The ageing takes place in Slavonian oak barrels. The wine has a brown-brick color and aromas of overripe dark fruit dominate. This is a genuinely superb sweet wine which would go fabulously with many desserts.

 

Grgić Winery

Grgić Vina was established in 1996 by legendary Napa Valley winemaker, Croatian-born Miljenko ‘Mike’ Grgić (Grgich) and his daughter, Violet Grgich and his nephew Ivo Jeramaz. Dedicated to the art of winemaking, 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.

More information about the legendary Miljenko Grgić (Mike Grgich) could be found here.

 

Saints Hills Winery

The winery was founded in the year 2006, with the intention to make & tender premium quality Croatian wines. The company owns three vineyards & two wineries in two Croatian regions: Dalmatia (Dingač & Komarna) & Istria.

 
DINGAČ - St Lucia vineyard, Pelješac-Dalmatia

ST ROKO - St Roko vineyard, Komarna-Dalmatia

NEVINA - St Ante vineyard, Radovani-Istra

The owner of Saints Hills Winery Ernest Tolj is a smart and passionate person. More importantly, he manages to skillfully combine available resources. The truth is, passion & intelligence are two things in business that don’t always merge successfully - except, perhaps, in the wine business! 

Here are the images from our visit to Saints Hills winery

 

Korta Katarina Winery

The winery - including villa & vineyards are perched on the edge of the crystal-clear Adriatic Sea & provide breathtaking views of Croatia's Dalmatian Coast. Considered one of the most stunning coastlines in the world, the Dalmatian Coasts Dingač & Postup regions of the Pelješac Peninsula & the region of Čara, on the Island of Korčula produce Korta Katarina's award winning Plavac Mali, Reuben's Reserve Plavac Mali, Pošip & Rose wines.

The Korta Katarina estate is located in the small coastal town of Orebić - a region renowned for its culture, seaports & winemaking traditions that date back to the Roman Empire. For centuries, 'kortas' were the center of family gatherings for sea captains & sailors embarking on worldly adventures. The Korta Katarina winery name represents the kortas/gardens of Croatia & the family name Katarina/Katharine of Korta Katarina founders & owners Lee & Penny Anderson.

Here are a few images from our visit to Korta Katarina.

 

On our way back we stopped to enjoy a view in the Dingač and Postup areas.

Dingač is a wine growing region on the Pelješac Peninsula situated on the southwestern facing slope of the Zabrada Mountains between the small villages of Trstenik & Podobuče; it is a highly regarded area for growing the autochthonous Croatian red wine grape, Plavac Mali. Like the neighboring Postup region, the land is very rugged karst with little top soil. This attribute, in addition to the level of sunlight (2800 hours annually), 45 degree slope & weather make for ideal red wines growing conditions which are planted from sea level up to 300 m. The near constant exposure to the sun, reflective heat from the Adriatic, drainage in the rocky soil & the cooling 'Bura' winds create a perfectly suited terroir for these head-trained & dry farmed vines. The area is not very accessible but a small, rural road runs the length of the region. Also, at Potomje is the entrance to a one lane tunnel through the mountain that winemakers paid to build in 1973 in order to transport grapes directly. This replaced the old system of using donkeys to carry harvested grapes over the 400 m high pass of the mountain.

The wines derived from this area are eligible for a 'stamp of geographic origin' if they meet a series of strict requirements & can reach upwards of 17.6% alcohol. The wine region was established in 1961 & was the first protected Croatian wine region. Here is just a glimpse how the Dingač area on Pelješac peninsula looks like.

 

At the end it turned out to be another pretty shabby day in Dalmatia! Cheers! :)