Winemaking on the sun-kissed slopes of the Adriatic coast and Dalmatian islands goes all the way back to the Greeks, and most islanders, particularly on Hvar and Brač, near Split, still make their own wines.
Although the indigenous grape varieties of Croatia may not yet be familiar to the mainstream wine consumer, industry professionals are taking note. The premier grape variety, plavac mali (“little blue”) is a relative of zinfandel, while regional varieties such as Bogdanuša (“given by God” and only produced on Hvar) are achieving acclaim for their crisp, rustic freshness.
For the Beach Party
Saints Hills Nevina
A fresh and elegant blend of chardonnay and malvasia grapes, with aromas of apple and pear, and a clean, bright finish.
For the Barbecue
Bibich Riserva R5
One of the first Croatian wineries to gain inroads in the U.S., Bibich has long championed native varietals like babić, plavina, and maraština. This blend of five grapes is floral and spicy, with a hint of dried fruit on the tongue. If you’re lucky to find it (only 300 cases are produced a year), try it with grilled lobster or lamb.
Selected from grapes growing on the steep, south-facing vineyards of the island of Hvar, this big-flavored white compares well to a chardonnay.