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By Nina Štulić from @Vinzual, 20 september 2021

Plavac Mali - the king amongst Croatian red wine grape varieties

PLAVAC MALI (plah-vahts-mah-lee)

When you think about Croatian wine, you probably first think of the bold, tannic, fruity, ruby red wine! Well, that’s plavac mali! The King amongst Croatian red wine grape varieties. On the 21st of September we celebrate ‘’The International Plavac Mali day’’ which is why we are introducing to you this ‘’little blue’’! Let’s take a closer look at the most planted red wine grape variety in Croatia.

 

The origins

First thing to get straight - Plavac mali is not Zinfandel, which is often misunderstood outside of the Croatian borders. There have been numerous studies about the plavac mali genetic profile. The newest studies showed the gene correlation with two indigenous varieties; Dobričić and Tribidrag (aka Zinfandel), with whom it shares only the male parent bonds which leaves the mother unidentified, but ensures his strong croatian origins.

Plavac mali by Petra Ligutić
 

So, where does plavac mali feel like home?

Plavac mali is mainly grown on the stony carbonate soils above the limestone bedrock on the steep hilly positions. Most often you'll see plavac mali growing on the bush looking vine, which is an old training system called “en gobelet”. The most famous appellation for its production is the Pelješac peninsula, more specifically, the protected positions of Dingač, Postup and Ponikve. Alongside with Pelješac, distinguished positions are found on the very well known appellations of islands Hvar, Brač, Vis, Korčula, Mljet and Lastovo, as well as the youngest appellation - Komarna, where all the wineries are certified organic!

 
 
 
 

Why “little blue”?

The name ‘’little blue’’ comes from the beautiful powder-blue colour emerging from the white bloom covering round, slightly flat dark blue berries whose flesh is firm and uncolored and the skin is rich in anthocyanins. Plavac mali often has unevenly ripped clusters, with the berries being dried, normally ripe and less ripe. From those dried berries comes that specific dried and cooked fruit aroma.

Plavac mali by Vinzual
 

The wine

It’s the easy one to guess on the blind tastings! This late ripening variety produces high sugar, due to the triple insolation it usually absorbs and low to medium acid content. The wine is ruby red, most often robust, highly tannic and astringent with good potential for aging. The rich aromatic profile is dominated by the aromas of red cherry, plum, blueberry, pepper, sage, chocolate, plum jam, carob, fig, baking spices and black olives. Sounds yummy, right?

 

The most common styles are full bodied, aged, dry to off dry wines, but the trend of more elegant and lighter bodied wines is rising, as well as the number of rosés on the market. It is also used in the production of the traditional dessert wine, called “prošek” which pairs great with caramel desserts and intense creamy and hard cheeses.

Plavac mali profile by Vinzual
 

So… Plavac mali require only top positions along the narrow Dalmatian coast, where hard labour upon the steep, hand maintained vineyards is done. Only then can the king appear on the wine stage in his full glory. That is why we only choose the best examples for you to enjoy this little blue!

 

Since we're celebrating the International Plavac Mali Day, we are offering you 10% off on the best Plavac mali examples in our webshop, including the treasured vintages like Korta Katarina Reubens’s reserve 2009 and 2011.

 

Definitely not an offer to miss out!

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