Croatian wines don’t have much of a presence in the United States, especially those from regions other than Pelješac (you may be familiar with Dingač, a popular subregion of Pelješac, but we’re willing to bet you’re probably not familiar with much else). But Croatia produces a lot of wine, and we were delighted to explore other winemaking areas in the country. We started in the area around Zagreb, called Plešivica, known for its Pinot Noir and assorted German varietals. Plešivica is north and inland in Croatia (southwest from Zagreb), and can grow these cooler climate grapes because it escapes the scorching heat of its southern neighbors and is located on rolling hills of mild elevation. Here is a map:
We had nothing to go on but a PDF map of the region as we set out to do some tasting. We chose our first stop after extensive research (ok, it was the first one we came across). Fortunately for us, it was at one of the largest and most reputable producers in the region, Zvonimir Tomac. Tomac (pronounced To-MAS) is famous for being one of the first in Croatia to produce sparkling wine. They produce assorted white varietals (Riesling and the like) and Pinot Noir like others in the region. Unlike others, however, they also produced some very interesting, and very quaffable, orange or anfora wine. We tried one still and one sparkling. We enjoyed the still anfora wine greatly and considered bringing it back for our wine club, but at 30 euro a bottle it was out of our price range. Still we bought one bottle for ourselves to enjoy on our trip.
Tomac pointed us to the next producer we visited, Velimir Korak. We tried numerous wines – a Riesling, a Sauvignon Blanc, a Rosé, a Pinot Noir, and a Syrah. Some were better than others, and we detected a hint of volatile acidity on some.
We followed this tasting with lunch at a little restaurant called Karlo perched high atop the hills. The view couldn’t have been more gorgeous:
Our lunch of locally sourced fresh fish, rabbit and veal was one of our favorites in the country (and at $100 for lunch for four with a bottle of wine, the price was also very good).
We had a bottle of Sylvaner that we enjoyed so much we decided to seek out the winemaker, who happened to be right down the road. And here we discovered our favorite producer from the trip…. Drago Rezek.
Rezek is a multigenerational winemaking family with a limited overall production. We tried an assortment of red and white wines, and all were excellent. The unanimous standout, however, was the Pinot Noir. Aged in neutral oak, the 2011 Pinot Noir from Rezek was dusty and herbaceous, with notes of dill complementing the fruit. At just 12.5% alcohol, it was approachable, lively, and will pair wonderfully with a range of foods. We knew immediately that this would be our first KAKERA wine purchase and are so excited to share it with you.
All of the wineries seem to have dogs. This one liked to play dead.
This one liked to play tug-of-war with my dress.
It was still cute.