Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Learning about Plavac Mali & Dingač Croatia during #winestudio

This past month I've been learning all about Croatian wine through the Monday night #winestudio Twitter series courtesy of Bill Eyer of The Cuvee Corner wine blog and Tina & Guy from Protocol Wine Studio. The wines were available for purchase through Protocol as well as Blue Danube Wine. The first three weeks focused on white wines (Sipun Zlahtina 2011 Blanc, Piquentum Malvasia 2011 Blanc, Daruvar Grasevina 2011 Blanc); but this week attention turned to reds and the famous Plavac Mali, from the Dingač area of the Pelješac peninsula.

Dingač is a small area of vineyards interspersed along the steep (45 degree) southern hillsides of Pelješac - itself located in southern Croatia on the Adriatic. The slopes are so steep, that only donkeys were able to transport the grapes over the mountains to the wineries and explains why the donkey label is a proud reminder of the Croatian winemaking tradition. Never mind that winemakers paid for a tunnel to be built though the 400 m mountain pass that now allows trucks transport grapes. The peninsula also provides intense sunlight, 2800 hours annually, which can lead to intense grapes and intense wines - 17.5% alcohol.  In 1961 Dingač became the first protected Croatian  wine area - and only wine sourced from the historic Dingač vineyard can be labelled Dingač. These wineries include Matuško, Vinarija Dingač, Bura-Mokalo, Miloš, Kiridžija, and Bartulović. As you can see, there are three meanings of Dingač, the area, the vineyard, plus a winery.

The Dingač area is shaded in orange
Dingač is also the home to Plavac Mali, which translates to the "Little Blue" grape. The oldest written mentions of Plavac Mali go back to 1821 and you can still find 100 year old vines bearing fruit. Plavac Mali is the offspring of Dobričić and Crljenak Kastelanski and through DNA analysis, researchers from UC Davis have determined that Crljenak Kastelanski is the same grape as California Zinfandel (as well as Italian Primitivo). Consequently, Plavac Mali shares some characteristics of Zinfandel, most commonly, that spicy finish.  The Dingac Plavac 2010 Red ($12.95) we sampled during #winestudio exuded blackberries - in the nose and flavor - followed by the anticipated spicy finish. Featuring the donkey label, this is a dependable everyday wine. 

Next week (5/13), #winestudio examines another historic Croatian red, the Babić grape, through the Bibich R6 Riserva 2009 Rouge. Cheers.

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