Winefriend by David Way

Writing about the wines of Piemonte, Italy and France

Holidaying in Croatia – the Stina winery

After the excitements of the last year – great work trips, organising a tour to Friuli and Veneto, missing most of this due to me being in hospital in Italy, MW study and exams, and more – Janet and I decided we would look for a summer break organised by someone else. I believe this is called a holiday. And we haven’t really been on one like this for years. After looking at options we went with Sail-Croatia on a week-long trip from Dubrovnic to Split, preceded by a few days in Dubrovnik. There is much more detail on this – with my pictures! – on Janet’s Country mouse travel blog: Summer sailing in Croatia and Summer sailing: the Croatian islands

Croatia is, of course, a fascinating wine country. It has a range of indigenous grape varieties and many, many great vineyard sites. Dalmatia (which we visited) and Istria are highly photogenic too with tiny vineyards on south-facing slopes just above the sea.

Stina winery, Bol

Our holiday was made up a short sail each day from one island to another and doing the tourist thing on each island (except clubbing on Hvar!) By the end of the week it was a pleasant surprise to find that the Stina winery has taken over and renovated a historic building right on the waterfront at Bol on the island of Bra?. After some confusion as to whether or not cellar tours were available, we tagged on to a short tour and tasting organised by another cruising line. We then stayed on and were able to buy glasses of the premium Majstor line. This gave us a pretty good overview of the wines made. In addition to the wines below they also make a sparkling wine, a Vugava (white grape from Vis island), a Tribidrag (in origin Croatian but better known elsewhere as Primitivo or Zinfandel), the top tier ‘Barrique’ line and a sweet wine.

Pošip 2016, 13% – Posip is said to be originally from the island of Kor?ula. It now thrives in many locations on the Dalmatian coast. The unoaked version shows lovely lemon and grassy aromatics, has a fairly full body and enlivening acidity.

Opol, Rosé, 2016, 12.5% – this is made from Plavac Mali, the most important red grape variety in Croatia. The name ‘Opol’ is a local word for rosé.  Quite deep cherry colour, this is really a light red wine in disguise. It has real freshness and attractive red cherry and plum fruit, spiciness and noticeable tannins. Very good – not all rosé has to be pale and light.  

Plavac Mali 2013, 13% – very good quality entry-level Plavac with crunchy redcurrant and blackberry fruit, medium body, lively firm tannins, 12 months in used oak barriques.  

Pošip Majstor 2014, 14% – this is the grownup version of the first white above: top-quality fruit, 50% fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steels and the rest in barriques and large oak vats. The wine is then aged on its lees with some bâtonnage. Lovely light vanilla and cream notes with melon and the characteristic grassiness.  A good candidate for oak – you could think this was Chardonnay except that at this level of ripeness the fruit would be more dominant.  

Plavac Mali Majstor 2013, 15% – similarly this is the more senior version of the first red above.  From top vineyards on the classic limestone of the island. The name of the company, Stina, refers to the stone which was the island’s sole income in former times. It is celebrated in the plain and very handsome front labels of these wines. (Picture above)

Some of the fruit is from older vineyards (50 years old).  20% is fermented in stainless steel for freshness, 80% in large neutral oak, maceration on the skins for one month. The wine is then aged in barriques, majority new, for 18 months.  The wine shows an excellent concentration with predominantly black fruit. The fruit, oak and alcohol is well balanced by bright acidity. Layers of interest, with a powerful tannic finish. Drink now with robust meat dishes or cellar for 10-15 years.  

It was great to visit Stina and to experience at first hand the progress that Croatian wine is making. There is more to this country than the beautiful coast and islands. 

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