“Drink what you know” has become our version of the saying “write what you know.” On any given night when a bottle of wine is open on our table, it’s likely to from a region or a grape with which we have a long history – whether an elegant, thought provoking Burgundy, a racy and lively Oregon pinot noir, or a leathery, tobacco-spiced Rioja from somewhere near San Sebastian. This approach has served us very well over the years,and has rarely (if ever) led to a truly disappointing bottle.
A few weeks ago, however, we decided we wanted to branch out into lesser-known (to us) regions and grapes. So far, this change of course has led us to some truly memorable bottles. We’ve enjoyed bottles from all over the Old World, running the gamut from a focused and mineral-driven Gruner Veltliner from Austria to a dark, brooding Ribuero del Duero a friend brought home from Portugal and graciously opened with us.
One bottle, though, was honestly a shocking discovery: the 2015 Plavina from Croatian winemaker Ivica Pilizota. This was the first bottle of Croatian wine we’ve ever had, but it certainly won’t be our last!
Plavina is a red grape indigenous to the Dalmatian Coast, and the Pilizota grapes grow in rocky soil near the Adriatic Sea. At only 12.7% ABV, our initial thought was that this bottle would be very bright and fruit-forward with relatively high acid and a light, delicate structure. This Plavina did primarily offer strawberry and red currant characteristics, but they were nicely balanced with a hint of bramble, dewy forest floor and even a little bit of sea air – a great expression of its coastal terroir.
The Pilizota Plavina is an absolute gem of a wine, and it’s a steal at around $16 (for Charleston locals, we found it at Bottles in Mount Pleasant). For us, it provided an instant flashback to late summer evenings on the Jersey Shore – it’s a glass of sea air and sunsets that we recommend serving slightly chilled, preferably with an ocean view.
V-Dub Vino Score: 94/100
2015 Ivica Pilizota Plavina – 12.7% ABV – $15.99 (SC price)