Croatia Wine Country: The City of Split
We all know and may have visited the renowned wine regions of France, Italy and other great wine-producing regions of the world. Next time, you might want to set your sights on one of the hottest new wine regions in Europe: Split, Croatia.
A few hours drive southwest from Zagreb, the city of Split is a worthwhile destination, especially in the months from May through October. Split is a beautiful coastal community, with an active harbor ferrying tourists and locals alike to the nearby islands.
Comfortable weather conditions are the norm, as is an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, olive oils, proficient restaurants, and now, of course, fine wine.
Croatian wines of two decades ago, branded as inexpensive, awkward bulk wines, are being replaced with sophisticated, lovely bottles by small producers using quite modern techniques.
Croatian soil is largely limestone based, and the local wine experts will tell you that the ground waters leaching from the limestone into the vineyards impart a distinctive mineral and edgy quality to all their wines, especially the whites.
The white wines here are the star of the show, and make up well over 60 percent of all wine production.
The white wines are typically rich and fruity in character, have a nice balance of acid and show the aforementioned distinctive mineral note very well.
There is a wide range of varietals and styles of the whites, but look for the indigenous varietals of Posip, Pinot Sivi (Pinot Gris), Grk, and Ziahtina. Varietals from other parts of the world do well here also, including Sauvignon Blanc (Sauvignon), Chardonnay, Malvasia, and Pinot Blanc.
The red wines of this region center around the Zinfandel varietal we know here in California, which they termed Plavic Mali. It seems evident that Split is the original home of this grape, with proof of its usage going back over 2,500 years ago. There is even a small memorial park dedicated to the founding of Plavic Mali grapevine in Split.
In addition to many other indigenous varietals, Croatian winemakers also delve in the more classics (as we know them) such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and even a little Pinot Noir (Pinot Crni).
For more detailed information about Split, its restaurants and wineries, and touring information, visit the Tourist Board of Split Web site. (www.visitsplit.com/en) Gary Parker, owner, The WineSellar & Brasserie