Plavac Mali in California? Actually no, to best of my knowledge 99% of Plavac Mali grapes are grown in Croatia and 1% in Bosnia. That said, one can now find some great examples of this desirous grape being imported by Topochines in Napa, California (https://topochines.com) .
A little background on this grape varietal. Plavac Mali is Croatia’s most planted varietal. This grape produces wines which are dense, dark colored on the eye. Aromas of black cherry flavors, pepper, smoke and exotics spices fill the glass. The grape thrives on the Dalmatian Coast with low yields providing concentrated wines. Mali means small as in the berry size and plavac refers to the blue color of the berries. These small berries however punch a wallop! Originally thought to be related to Zinfandel, but Mike Grgich with the help of UC Davis, were able to discover they are not identical but were linked genetically.
On two different evenings a Plavac Mali wine was tasted and paired with varying foods. First was the 2015 sv Roko. This is 100% Plavac Mali and aged in small oak barrels. This comes from an extremely steep hillside with the fertile soil, beneath a covering of limestone. This is a great example of a spicy Plavac Mali and with heavy tannins. This is almost a “chewable wine”. Rich in black berries and blueberries and extremely dry. The finish was a dry and earthy. Paired with taco salad, this wine enjoyed the moist tomatoes, lettuce, seasoned beef, cheese and purple onions.
The other wine consumed was the “For Inspiration” Stina 2015. This comes from the island of Brač. This island is known for its white stone (Stina). It holds a special place for Croatians for its beauty and hardship in viticulture. This wine adheres to its roots of being powerful and strong. It is again dark colored, almost a royal red/purple on the eye. On the nose and palate, cranberries, smoke and cinnamon along with plums engulf the mouth. The finish was much smoother and less earthy than the sv Roko. This was paired with a simple BBQed hamburger and fries. Our version of Croatia mets Mexico! The next bottle of this wine will be with a beef filet, tri-tip steak or rib eye steak.
Should you desire a big, bold wine old world wine far beyond what we in California think of as “big & bold”, try a Plavac Mali wine and you will be amazed at the complexity, strength and character of this varietal. Truly one of the more enjoyable wines tasted in recent years. By the way, these were not samples but purchased.