Wines to Try
Start discovering our collection of exciting Croatian wines with this curated list.
Ancient vineyards overlook the Adriatic Sea in Croatia’s southernmost wine region. Hvar, Korcula and Vis are the most well-known of the more than 1,200 islands here, and they are famous for the wines they produce. Rich, buttery Pošip is the most widely planted white, while reds are typically made from bold, powerful Plavac Mali. Recently, DNA testing confirmed that both Italian Primitivo and American Zinfandel derive from Kaštelanski Crljenak, a grape indigenous to this region.
Slavonia and Danube
In the country’s northeast, Croatia’s largest wine-growing region is dominated by a vast, rich plain enclosed by three rivers: the Danube, Drava and Sava. Cool springs and warm autumns are typical, allowing for extra ripening. Supple Graševina is the region’s top white variety, and well-balanced, fruity Frankovka, blended or used on its own, is the most widely planted red. In recent years, more producers are experimenting with Burgundian (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay) and Bordeaux (Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) varietals.
This region has some of the coolest, wettest conditions in all of Croatia, but it’s also home to some of the country’s most renowned vintners. Best known for its white wines from indigenous varieties such as Mirkovača, Moslavac and Škrlet — a white varietal famed for fresh, fruity wines — the area is gaining acclaim for its sweet late-harvest and Icewines. An early-ripening red grape called Portugizac is also getting a reputation as the Croatian Beaujolais for its light, fruity style.
Istria and Kvarner
This region in the country’s northwest is sometimes called the Croatian Tuscany. Hemmed in by the Adriatic on one side and the Dinarin Alps on the other, the rich soil, grape-friendly climate and abundance of innovative winemakers make it a dynamic region. Coastal wines tend toward mature, fruity styles, while inland wines typically emphasize more mineral and floral aspects. Indigenous varieties like Malvazija, with mineral and citrus flavours, as well as deep red, berry-laden Teran, thrive alongside international grapes like Pinot Blanc and Merlot.
Croatia’s best known and most widely planted red grape, Plavac Mali makes big, well-structured wines brimming with notes of rose blossom, baked fruit, peppercorn and chocolate.
TRY IT WITH: A long, slow braised osso buco or peppercorn steak.
Traditionally blended with Plavac Mali and another regional variety called Babić, Plavina is increasingly being made into lively, complex single-varietal versions. Medium-bodied with soft, fresh tannins and lively acidity, its has red berry and earthy notes supported by a touch of chocolate.
TRY IT WITH: Roast chicken or a charcuterie and cheese board.
Widely grown throughout Istria, this late-ripening variety produces dark ruby, verging on purple wines, with plenty of ripe blackberry and spicy paprika notes. Bright and lively, the grape has an inherent acidity that’s tamed and softened by a bit of oak aging, which allows for long aging.
TRY IT WITH: Crisp roast duck or black truffle risotto.
Native to the island of Korčula but grown throughout Dalmatia, this was the first Croatian variety with a protected geographical origin. When fermented in stainless steel tanks, the resulting wine is fresh and aromatic, with a crisp gooseberry and citrus profile. Oak aging gives the grape body and imparts a rich, buttery texture along with vanilla and candied lemon-peel notes.
TRY IT WITH: Red snapper or a fresh tabbouleh.
Especially popular in Istria and the Slovenian coast, this wine is the country’s third most planted white varietal. It’s defined by its tangerine and peach blossom aromas and a minerality with a pleasant saltiness. Cooler conditions result in a wine featuring nectarine and apple flavours, while warmer regions offer a more exotic style with banana notes.
TRY IT WITH: Grilled lobster tails or seared halibut.
An ancient wine of mysterious origins, this grape grows easily in a wide variety of conditions and is widely planted throughout Croatia. Styles range from rich and concentrated with exotic fruit notes in the south to aromatic and fresh, crisp apple flavours in the cool inland hills.
TRY IT WITH: Pork satay or shrimp with garlic butter.