Something you’re not used to seeing on this page–as I’m allergic to just about every made-up #influencerday in the wine-world–but Plavac Mali is a variety near and dear to my heart, and it needs as much boost as it can get. So here I am on #internationalplavacmaliday with something I’ve been dying to get into since it arrived. I’ve only had this wine once before, and it was a liquor-store orphan 10 years old at the time–and this was easily 10 years ago. I didn’t quite know what to think of it at the time, and honestly I remember it feeling rustic and tired. But here I have a fresh one in front of me, and a shit-ton more experience with the grape since then. To any serious wine-person, an iconic label–instantly recognizable–and needing no introduction. And yet somehow I managed to write one.
Staining black ruby in the glass, possibly not even crystal-clear. Beautiful, modern nose: very Syrah- or GSM-like: the fruit a clean dark cherry and blackberry, hints of pineapple and ripe peach tinge the round body. Not-quite-leathery smelling–although it heads that direction–more smoky dank earth and gone-out Borkum Riff. There’s a mint and briar touching the edges: it honestly smells the way a LOT of Napa Cabs do now: round, sweet, rich and oaked–something I might roll my eyes and dock points for in that variety, but everyone understands THIS grape is a completely different bird. HERE those things show complexity and careful wine-making; THERE it comes off flabby and touristy. Double standard? Not even close.
Tasting it is an intense exercise. The concentration of the berry washes the mouth: GOD, it’s SO gorgeous. An absolute dessert of intoxicating levels. But don’t be fooled into thinking it a Zinny jam-fest. Bitter, thick body climbs out of that trojan horse, so perfectly in sync with the size of the fruit it’s merely a tongue-twisting speed-bump. The tannins are a rich, blossomy affair: compelling–for sure–but not intimidating or obfuscating. An absolute STUNNER. Maybe my favorite Grgich wine? Try it and you’ll agree with me. It drinks ridiculously here at 4, and has another 20 to go, EASY.
2017 GRGIĆ Plavac Mali Peljesac Peninsula Croatia 15.5