2012 Dubrovacki Podrumi Crjenak Kastelanski
Region: Konalve < Croatia
Grapes: Crljenak Kaštelanski (aka Zinfandel)
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic, dry-farmed vineyards, Dolomite limestone soils; 5-day maceration and 30-day fermentation, then 1 year in used Croatian and Hungarian oak barrels. After 2 months in stainless steel, the wine was bottled without fining or filtering. 700 cases
Winemaker: Vlaho Ivaniš
Crljenak Kaštelanski was an almost extinct Dalmatian grape varietal until DNA fingerprinting revealed that it was an exact DNA match to both Zinfandel and the Italian grape Primitivo. The discovery was made in 2001 by University of Davis professor, Carole Meredith, who set out in 1998 on a mission– dubbed “Zinquest” – to scour Dalmatia’s coastal vineyards in search of the true origins of the Zinfandel grape. What she found is that Zinfandel is actually an indigenous Croatian varietal referred to locally as Crljenak Kaštelanski.
The Dubrovački Podrumi estate was founded in 1877 by a local wine merchant but became a state-run operation that produced plonk after World War II. It was purchased in 2000 by local entrepreneurs who revitalized the winemaking program, planted new vineyards and converted to organic farming. This is classic Zin but cooler (literally) because of the strong maritime climate influence – unlike super ripe Cali zins, the fruit doesn’t have that alcoholic ripeness and sticky richness. But you still get some heft and lushness here, with red fruit, dried blueberries, paprika and smoke. Super fun to celebrate Thanksgiving and a classic American grape varietal with its hipper Croatian cousin.