August 2017 Vinguard Featured Croatian Wines

2016 Milos Stagnum Rosé




2016 Miloš Stagnum Rosé ($28)

Pelješac Peninsula, Croatia

Plavac Mali


As I see more rosé approaching the $30 price point I can’t help but wonder if this is a sign that more people – winemakers and consumers – are taking this category more seriously and/or if it is sheerly a matter of supply and demand. Regardless, some including this release from Miloš, prove their worth as they can be more than just summer sippers but also complex and memorable.


Vineyard: Sandy soil on dolomite rocks. Ungrafted vines planted in the early 1980’s.

Farming: Organic, biologic diversity.

Vinification: Whole cluster pressed, fermented in stainless steel and aged for eight months in tank, fined but not filtered, SO2 added and bottled.

Tasting Note: Dry but not austere, minerally and bright with traces of spice and subtle berry fruit. It has a gentle grip as well, which gives it more structure than most rosés.

Food Pairing: Ivan Miloš said, “It is very food friendly and it goes great, especially with sushi, also white meat, pasta, but even spicy food as it has nice acidity which goes great with spicy food.” Sticking with this theme, I’d add the ever-trendy tuna poke.

Drinkability: Now – 2020. I would not be surprised if, as the tertiary components come to the fore, this rosé becomes extremely interesting over the next few years.

Alcohol: 13.5%

SO2: 60 ppm


2013 Milos Plavac


2013 Miloš Plavac ($25)

Pelješac Peninsula, Croatia

Plavac Mali


The ‘06 Miloš’ Plavac Mali was one of the first wines I tried from this Croatian grape and it set a high standard. Since then, the wines have only gotten better. Maybe it is a result of older vineyards or Frano Miloš’ increased experience, but it should be thought of as much more than an entry level. If anyone has never tried Plavac Mali, which is related to Zinfandel and shares some of its qualities, this is the one you should track down.


Vineyard: Sandy soil on dolomite rock.

Farming: Organic, biological diversity.

Vinification: Fermented and aged in neutral Slovenian oak. Unfiltered.

Tasting Note: The quality of this wine is amazingly consistent. It varies a bit from year to year but is always great and for $25 it is a very good value, especially considering how well it can age. Spicy with black pepper, a little barnyard funk – not much -, a hint of rose petals and loads of juicy blackberry fruit, it is delicious now but will also evolve, if you have the patience to wait.

Food Pairing: Gamey birds such as squab. Stuffed red peppers, meat or vegetarian versions.

Drinkability: Now – 20 plus years.

Alcohol: 13.5%

SO2: 30 ppm


Enginji Zweigelt Barrique

2011 Enjingi Zweigelt ($30)

Kutjevo, Slavonia, Croatia



Ivan Enginji bottled his first wine in 1972, making him one of, if not the first private winemaker in Croatia. His family started making wine in the late 1800’s and they claim to have pretty much stuck to the same methods throughout their 125 plus year history.


Vineyard: South facing. Volcanic and sandy soil with clay on slate and granite.

Farming: Organic, dry farmed. Late harvested (end of September, October).

Vinification: Destemmed and macerated on skins for eight to ten days in stainless steel tank. Aged in 225 to 8500 liter Slavonian oak for 18 months and bottle for one year.

Tasting Note: This is a dry, late harvest wine but it does not taste super ripe or hot. It has a beautiful luminosity of stewed plums, cherry and raspberry fruit with cola, Ceylon tea, fresh oregano, accents of chocolate and black pepper, and supple tannins.

Food Pairing: Pork chops, game, wild mushroom stew.

Drinkability: Now – 2030.

Alcohol: 14.2%

SO2: Free 5 ppm, total 93 ppm.


Vinarija Kriz Plavac Mali

2013 Vinarija Kriz Plavac Mali ($40)

Pelješac Peninsula, Croatia

Plavac Mali


Once upon a time, it was believed that Plavac Mali was Zinfandel’s parent. Now we know that the opposite is true and that Crljenak Kaštelanski, aka Zinfandel, is one of Plavac Mali’s parents, and Dobricic, a red grape that is from Solta, an island off the Dalmatian coast, is the other.


Vineyard: Dolomite and limestone planted from 1990 – 2008.

Farming: Certified organic with biodynamic principles.

Vinification: Fermented in new untoasted barrels and stainless steel tanks, aged one year in 600-liter oak barrels and six months in bottle. Unfiltered.

Tasting Note: A matrix of blackberry tea, plums, coffee, licorice and violets on a firm bed of tannins. While tasty right after it was opened, I thought it was even more generous and inviting an hour after sitting in my glass (ideally, give it two – four in the bottle).

Food Pairing: Braised meats.

Drinkability: Now – 2028.

Alcohol: 14.5%

SO2: None added, 6 ppm.