My first Taste of Croatian Wine

When I found out that I would be guiding bike tours on the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia, I realized that it was the perfect opportunity to open up the bottle of Croatian wine that I had been saving. I had a bottle of Grgić Pošip that a friend and fellow tour guide brought back to me after spending a summer in Croatia.

Miljenko "Mike" Grgich is probably the most well known Croatian winemaker.

Born on the Dalmatian Coast in 1923, Mr. Grigch moved away in the 50's from the then-Yugoslavia and eventually made his way to Napa Valley, California. He is noted for creating the award-winning Chateau Montelena Chardonnay that out-shined white Burgundies in the 1973 Judgement of Paris tasting.  He also spearheaded the experiments at UC Davis to test his prediction that California Zinfandel is genetically related to the indigenous Plavac Mali grape, found all over Croatia. They found that his theory was partially true: Plavac Mali is indeed the parent to Zinfandel, and the origin of Zin is actually the more obscure Croatian grape Crljenak Kastalenski. Now Miljenko "Mike" Grgich owns both Grgić Winery located on the Dalmatian coast of Croatia, as well as Grgich Hills Estate in Napa Valley.

Mike Grgich, Photo credit: Grgich Hills Estate

I had been waiting for the right moment to open the intriguing bottle of Grgić Posip from Croatia. I just so happened to also have a bottle of Grgich Hills Fume Blanc (aka: Sauvignon Blanc) from the Napa Valley estate. A better match may have been Chardonnay, which is closely related to the Croatian varietal Pošip, but this was still a great line up!

The line up: New World and Old World whites created by the talented Mike Grgich


My mother in law was in town and was more than happy to join me for the tasting. (She even took notes with me).  The two of us had quite the tasting of these two wines, side by side.

Our Analysis:

We found the Napa Valley Grigch Hills Estate Fume Blanc to be refreshing and delicious on the hot summer afternoon. With notes of grapefruit, tree-fruit and crisp Granny Smith Apples that dance on your tongue, it also had aromas of wet rocks after a rainstorm. It was delightful!

The Pošip was a bit heavier but also very enjoyable with notes of Meyer lemon and minerals. It was golden in color and much more reminiscent of an un-oaked Chardonnay.

This tasting prepped my taste buds for my trip ahead. The Pošip intrigued me all the more to sample other native wines of Croatia, including the Plavac Mali and the hard to pronounce Crljenak Kastalenski.

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