Dalmatia

Our European Civilisation owes a lot to the Ancient Greece. The Greeks were the first to pursue winemaking and winegrowing in Dalmatia in an organised manner. They no longer live in Dalmatia, but Grk Bijeli (lit. Greek White) grapes remain and thrive only in sandy soils on the western tip of the Korčula Island around the village of Lumbarda. Even though Dalmatia is renowned for red wines, white wines are the winemaking mainstay of the Korčula Island. In addition to Grk Bijeli, Korčula is known for Pošip – a variety  indigenous to the island. Pošip is a wine of brilliant, straw-yellow colour with a high alcohol component and peculiar flavour. Indigenous Dalmatian grape variety Maraština is also known as Rukatac on the Korčula Island. It was brought there more than a thousand years ago. 

Pelješac, the second largest Croatian peninsula, is a gem of Dalmatia and abounds in hills. The best Croatian red wine made of the most abundant Dalmatian and Croatian grape variety – Plavac Mali – originated on this peninsula. The variety is well-adapted to the scorching Mediterranean climate and harsh soil. Plavac grapes grown on south-facing karst slopes exposed to plenty of sunshine yield full-bodied, robust, and rich wines that keep for a long time. Conversely, Plavac grapes grown in the fields in the interior of the Pelješac Peninsula yield lighter, fresher wines. The wines are normally abundant in tannins. Sometimes they are very tart and often have very high alcohol components. Plavac Mali is mostly cultivated on the Pelješac Peninsula, the islands of Hvar, Brač, and Vis. Dingač is the most significant and the best-known area of cultivation of Mali Plavac. It is a mountain ridge sloping to the southwest at an angle of 10° to 60°. The secret of Dingač wine quality is precisely that steepness of the mountain ridge and its seaward exposure. Sailing north from Korčula or Pelješac across the Korčula Channel, one arrives to the Hvar Island – the sunniest island in Dalmatia. The south side of the Hvar Island is very steep. Its two significant stands – Ivan Dolac and Sveta Nedjelja – make it ideal for cultivation of Plavac Mali and rich, full-bodied wines. Bogdanuša is the best-known indigenous white grape variety of the Hvar Island. Typical Northern Dalmatian varieties are Babić, Grenache, and Plavina among reds, and Debit and Maraština among white ones. The most significant winegrowing areas are Primošten, Pirovac, Skradin, Promina, and Benkovac–Stankovci. All Northern Dalmatia’s wines are pleasantly acidic, fresh, delicate, and drinkable. “Primoštenska Čipka” vineyards around Primošten are the most impressive monument to Dalmatia’s peasants whose hands are knitting stone lace protecting and nurturing vines for centuries. Babić grape variety is predominant around Primošten today as another Northern Dalmatia’s indigenous red grape variety.