Wondering what Croatian wines to try while you are here?
Here’s my Trogir beginner’s guide to Croatian wines, both red and white.
First of all, I’m no expert. I don’t know much about wine. I don’t know the wine tasting lingo. But I do know a good wine when I taste one. I spent about 7 years on the Central Coast of California and developed a taste for dry, “oaky” Chardonnays and bold reds. Croatian wines are new to me.
I can’t remember ever seeing any Croatian wine while I was living in Denver, and of course it made me even more curious. What kinds of grapes do they have? What is the essence of Croatian wine?
So I came to Dalmatia and felt humbled all over again. I also felt eager to learn and discover, malo po malo, on my own. Till very recently, I had no idea that Babić and Pošip are grapes, or that certain varieties are grown in very specific areas.
Central Dalmatia is the perfect place for wine. Everyone and their brother knows someone who has an annual grape harvest, and winery tours are plentiful.
However, Croatia strikes me as being unpretentious about its wines. You can find expensive, boutique wine, wines that are difficult to find, and plenty of well-kept “secrets.
It is also easy to find some very good and inexpensive wines in restaurants and even at the corner store. It’s just not a huge deal here as it was in the US when it comes to doing wine the “right” way.
Consider this blog my entry-level introduction to enjoying wine in the city of Trogir. If you are on a budget, or don’t want to work too hard at finding the perfect wine, no problem. If you want to get a real “Dalmatian experience” as you have your glass.. I’ve got you covered, but I also encourage you to explore on your own.
Let’s start with an exploration of Croatian wine in the old city of Trogir.
I decided to enter the south gate and try 2 white wines and a red wine. My goal was to enjoy the late afternoon atmosphere before the dinner rush. I love to just sit with a glass of wine and relax, and Trogir is the perfect place to do it.
Croatian Red Wine (Crno Vino)
First stop.. Restaurant Tragos.
This seemed like a good place to sample a red wine.. although here, we call in crno vino. or black wine.
I chose this place for the vibe. I looked inviting, so I found a table for one. The konobar was great.
I asked him for a good, local red wine, perhaps his personal favorite, but something for under 35 kn. I was expecting a Plavac or Babić wine, but was mildly surprised to be presented with a Syrah. It was excellent.. and just what I like. A nice, big, fat dry wine with a touch of black pepper and fruit.. is it cherry? currant? does it matter? This could be go-to wine.
Especially if I decide to come back and try the grilled lamb.
Here was my view from the table.
I could linger here for hours, but it’s time to move on..
Croatian White Wine (Bijelo Vino)
The next stop was a place called Capo. Their specialities included fish, pasta, and black risotto, which is more or less a popular Dalmatian dish. But today is all about wine.
The konobar was super friendly and relaxed, even at the end of a busy tourist season. I asked him to bring me a white wine in the 20-30 kuna range.. a nice, everyday wine which could be considered very Dalmatian. Well, he brought me an Istrian wine, but hey, it works!
I was expecting good old Graševina.. the Chardonnay of Croatia. Instead, I discovered yet another grape.. Malvazija.
I would say that the personality of this wine is the complete opposite of the previous red wine, and was a good choice for my mission of getting as much diversity as I could into a handful of samples. Even though it’s from Istria., this wine is the perfect apertif wine for a hot day in Dalmatia.
It is crisp, dry, citrusy, with a strong acidic tang. (remember I’m not good with wine tasting terms) I think I found my favorite summer wine, for now. Dalmatians often mix their wine with water, which makes sense on a hot day here. I chose to drink this one straight up.
Capo is also a perfect place to watch people or meet a friend. It has a very friendly vibe.
Capo closes by mid October at the latest.. with most others closing by the end of September. Now is a perfect time to come visit! I already told the konobar I would be back. This wine would be perfect with a light fish and pasta dinner.
After Capo, I meandered for a short distance on the cobblestone streets and discovered another gem.. Tre Gure.
Another friendly konobar. I told him that I prefer Chardonnay over Graševina.. but if he could recommend a wine that would win me over (in my price range) I would love to try it!
It was a toss-up between a Graševina and a Pošip. I went with the Graševina. This one was of much better quality than some of the less expensive (ok cheap) wines I got used to.
It has that dry, fruity, tangy taste characteristic of this type of wine.. without the weird aftertaste that some of the lower quality wines do. I also found out that the grapes are hardy, and are harvested late season, which gives it an even more interesting taste. I will be exploring these wines in another blog.
The atmosphere here was my favorite. Keep in mind that I look for quiet alcoves before the dinner rush, for those who may be concerned about seeing the empty tables. What a place to relax and just be. Trogir itself is like a work of art, and this place is like a microcosm of the city, in regards to its vibe and attractiveness. Quiet jazz was playing. It simply a gorgeous place to try any type of wine.
Indeed, enjoying wine here can be easy, inexpensive, and unpretentious, and also very, very good. Even though I’m not yet educated about Croatian wines, I wanted to show you that it’s easy, and more about discovery than any set of rules to follow.
In fact, my favorite way of enjoying wine is right here on the Veranda at Pape, watching the sun set. You can find similar wines down the street at the corner market.
Want to know more about Croatian wines? Let’s go to the next step while introduce you to some white wines.. (bijelo vino) Pošip and Traminac.
Hope you will join me!
Julie Odler is an American writer, digital marketing consultant for T&W marketing, and a former acupuncturist living in the Split/Trogir area, Sarajevo, and Belgrade. She loves Croatia and writes about her experiences in her own blog, The Balkan Nomad.