Zinfandel By Another Name Crljenak

Crljenak - 1

It’s been my experience that the Zinfandel grape’s origins continue to be a source of interest and frustration for many. This fall I attended a great seminar all about where Zinfandel actually comes from with a California producer of note. During that same trip to the American Wine Society conference, I was told by the importer of this particular wine that this is the true parent of Zinfandel, Crljenak. Apparently, a UC Davis professor, Carole Meredith “has ended any speculation about whether or not Croatia is the home of the Zinfandel grape.”

Makarska 2136This wine from Zlatan was a big bold wine. It I tasted it blind I don’t think I would have put it with Zinfandel as one and the same but that is largely irrelevant. It reminded me much more of some wines I have had from Bulgaria but again perhaps that is stylistic. At 14.5% it basically knocked my socks off. A fun find, it definitely needs food. Priced at around $40 , they are really trying to compete with the high end Zinfandels. A retail shop that sells this particular wine mentions aged parmigiano reggiano as a pairing and I can see that working well. Zlatan Otok was created by Zlatan Plenković in 1986 but the current brand name came about in 1991. The vineyards are located on the Dalmatian islands of Hvar and on Makarska below Mt. Biocovo. Most of their vineyards are planted with Plavac Mali but they also grow other grapes such as Crljenak on Makarska. They do everything by hand on the islands as you can imagine. Difficult terrain and conditions but no need for pesticides or other treatments thanks to the cooling and cleaning sea breezes. Zlatan Otok owns 10 hectares of vineyards and buys grapes for the rest of the wines they produce.

Marina, Sveta Nedelja 6187In addition to the vineyards, they also have a marina and a restaurant. Looks like a perfect place for a visit. I’ve always wanted to sail around Croatia. Maybe this will be the occasion.

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