Discovering Wine Treasures Along the Dalmatian Coastline!

By Jamie Knee, Petite Wine Traveler

Imagine yourself anchored off the breathtaking Croatian coastline, surrounded by waters so clear and azure that they defy belief. As the warm sunlight caresses your skin, you raise a glass of local Croatian wine to your lips, its crispness a delightful contrast to the Mediterranean air. Before you, the horizon unfolds revealing a tapestry of islands, each one reminiscent of the distinctive black and white markings of a Dalmatian dog. These islands aren’t merely geographical features; they embody the essence of Dalmatia, a region steeped in history and culture. In fact, it’s here in Dalmatia, with its over 1,200 islands, where the iconic Dalmatian dog is believed to have originated, forever intertwining the region’s identity with its four-legged namesake.

Father and Son: Andro Tomić and Sebastijan Tomić of Vino Tomić

The Dalmatian Coast is a feast for the senses. Dramatic cliffs plunge into the sapphire Adriatic, charming villages dot the hillsides, and historic towns whisper secrets of a bygone era. But for many travelers, the most captivating experiences involve a good glass in hand. Croatia might not be the first name that suggests itself when it comes to world-class wines,but that’s precisely what makes it so exciting. Here, as a Global Wine Communicator, I get to be a pioneer, venturing off the beaten path to discover hidden gems that tantalize your taste buds and leave a lasting impression. These must-visit islands – with the stone-laced vineyards of Hvar and Korčula – have been producing wines for over 2,000 years.

The two mainstays of Dalmatian wine are Plavac Mali (plah-vats mah-lee) for reds, and Pošip (poh-ship) for whites.Plavac Mali is the soul of Dalmatia captured in a bottle. Imagine a robust, sun-drenched local with a warm smile and a twinkle in his eye. This full-bodied red bursts with flavors of dark cherry, plum, and a hint of spice, the perfect accompaniment to evenings spent grilling fresh seafood under a canopy of stars.

Pošip, on the other hand, is the embodiment of a refreshing summer day. Light and crisp, it’s like a cool sea breeze carrying notes of citrus, honey, and a whisper of salinity. Each sip is the equivalent of diving into the cool Adriatic after a long day of exploring hidden coves. However, Dalmatia’s wine scene is far more diverse than just these two stars.

Jamie with the stone-laced vineyards of Hvar

Explore Croatian Wine Beyond the Familiar

Venture beyond the familiar and discover a constellation of local grape varieties waiting to be explored. Debit, a rare white grape, produces wines with a delicate whisper of summer – floral, elegant, and possessing a touch of minerality.Craving something a little different? Explore the nuanced flavors of dry Malvazija (mal-va-SEE-ah) or malvasia wine.Known for its refreshing and dry character, Malvazija wines offer a delightful array of tasting notes. With lower alcohol content, they often showcase a harmonious blend of flowers, ripe stone fruit, tropical fruit, and citrus, anchored by a subtle seam of minerality.

But any journey through Dalmatian wines begins with the region itself, where areas like Hvar Hills boast a commitment to crafting exceptional wines that reflect the unique terroir. Among the many esteemed wineries in Dalmatia, favorites emerge such as Rizman Winery, Miljas Winery, and Vina Tomić, standing out as gems. As you wind through rolling vineyards, the scent of ripe grapes heavy in the air, the true essence of the region unfolds. Stop at a family-run winery in Šibenik, where you can immerse yourself in the rich history and vibrant culture while sampling wines from local producers. Finally, located next to the marina, the Primošten area is renowned for its commitment to tradition and innovation, producing wines that capture the essence of Dalmatia. These wines are not just beverages; they are liquid history, each sip telling a tale of sun, soil, and the passionate spirit of the region.

Typical Croatian Cuisine with Miljas Plavac Mali Wine

Next time you’re raising a glass, why not venture beyond the familiar and seek out a bottle of Dalmatian sunshine? Consider popping into a wine bar such as Bokeria Kitchen & Wine in Split, where you can sample an array of wines from all around the region. As a Global Wine Communicator, I encourage you to explore the unique offerings of Croatia’s wine regions. Who knows, it might just become your new favorite travel souvenir – a delicious reminder of crystal-clear waters, charming villages, and the unforgettable taste of adventure. So here’s to the adventure, may it linger on your palate long after you’ve bid farewell to this enchanting land. Cheers!