Croatian Wine: Part Dva (that’s two for you non-Croatian speakers)

My dad travels a lot for his job . . . always has.  How much is a lot?  Passport control officers around the globe give him serious side-eye & head-shake because they have to flip through 52 extra passport pages to find a blank space to stamp and scribble.

You see what I mean?

My dad just returned from a recent trip to Europe with a few more passport stamps, and a couple more bottles of Croatian wine tucked into his suitcase.  Sidebar:  My dad mentioned to his Croatian friend (who is fast becoming my Croatian friend) that I wrote a blog post about Croatian wine a few months ago.  And voila . . . more Croatian wine appeared!  I like this system.  I may have to start evangelizing for Croatian Wine.

The first wine we tasted was a white — Zlatna Vrbnička Žlahtina 2012.

Looking at the back of the bottle, I need to do a little language analysis (with an assist from Google translate):

Kontrolirano Podrijetlo Kvalitetno Vino = Controlled Origin Quality Wine
Bijelo Suho Vino = Dry White Wine

OK . . . so basically a dry white wine.  Got it.

Žlahtina is a white grape indigenous to the Croatian island of Krk.  Wikipedia says it’s pronounced, kr̩̂k.  Right.  Not helpful, Wikipedia.  Can I buy a vowel?

Behold, the island of Krk (pronounced kr̩̂k) — if only I could twitch my nose and be there for lunch this afternoon!

Just look at this place . . . yes, please!!

Photo Credit

Back to the wine . . . apparently the name Žlahtina comes from the Slavic word žlahtno, which means noble.  In the glass, this wine is extremely pale in color, but the nose is mouthwatering — it smells like lemon slices laying on wet beach rocks.  Also pencil shavings.  Briny, and buttery this is a glass of oyster nectar.  Wine-searcher says it’s about a $7 bottle of wine.  Sold. It’s really refreshing and easy to drink.  And now . . . I want a pile of oysters to go with it!

The second wine we tasted was a red — Matuško Plavac Mali 2010.

The Matuško Vina website has a link for English language . . . yay!  But it didn’t really tell me anything about the wine . . . boo!

Deciphering the label, I know Plavac Mali is the grape.  And Kvalitetmo Suho Vino means Quality Dry Wine.  Vinogorja Pelješac means the vineyards of Pelješac.  And Google says ograniceni polozaji means limited positions.  Yeah, that one’s a head-scratcher.

Plavac Mali is perhaps the most well known grape in Croatia.  It translates literally to small blue, and it’s the child of Zinfandel and a grape called Dobričić.  I have some scaffolding with this grape — a few months ago, I tasted a 2008 Grgic Plavac Mali that I picked up from the good folks at Blue Danube Wine Company.  I remember that bottle being dense, gamey and well balanced.  How will my new Plavac Mali compare?

Wine-searcher says this Matuško Plavac Mali is about a $5 bottle of wine . . . and it tastes like a $5 bottle of wine.  It’s very pale in the glass, almost anemic.  The nose actually makes you reel.  It’s sour!  Think sour cherry Twizzler.  And it’s got bully tannins.  Good grief.  If you can get past the tannins, it tastes like a cherry Slurpee up front, and then morphs into cherry Vicks 44D cough syrup on the back end.  It’s just weird.

No worries, Croatia.  I won’t let this one Plavac Mali ruin the grape for me.  I’ll keep drinking Croatian wine . . . and visit Croatia will keep moving up on my bucket list!



  1. Very interesting. I definitely want to expand my wine horizon with Balkan wines – what is stopping me is that getting it from that Blue Danube company is not that cheap. Believe it or not, but Plavac Mali is one of only 3 grapes I never tasted from the original Wine Century Club application… Well, one day : ) By the way, I think “ograničeni položaji” should be translated as limited release – but this is more of a common sense translation than anything else. Cheers!


    1. The Balkan Peninsula is a wine region I will for sure be exploring more and more . . . I am impressed with what I’ve tasted (mostly) so far. Blue Danube is a little pricey, but I haven’t seen many (any) other options for quality wines from the region. I’m still working on my WC application . . . I think I have 3 more to get to 100. Step by step, right? Salud!


  2. I am not really very well versed on Croatian wines. The white sounds wonderful but your description of the red was well, very descriptive and it’s a wine I would definitely stay away from. That island is beautiful and I would really like to be seated on the beach with a glass of that white and some oysters.


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