Considerable pent-up bottle-funk on first pour. Not unpleasant, and a generous decant blows it off into a deep, tightly-structured wine with toasty roasted notes supporting the fruit: lavishly giving, but also tight with briar, herb and mineral. Very Cab-like, but asterisks of terroir immediately surface. WHERE would we place these cab-ish nuances? Bordeaux? Not really–unless it were Merlot or Cab-franc. Alexander Valley? Most definitely. Paso Robles? WAY more subtle. Napa? No, it’s tighter and greener than that. Washington? Never. Los Olivos or Happy Canyon? Thinner and more restrained–except perhaps in the less-expensive versions. Sonoma Mountain? Not really elegant enough. The nose hints at Syrah: but a funky, barnyard No. Rhone version. The fruit a clean pale cherry, chaparral and chalky dust exploding throughout. Sweaty and intense, clean fermentation and some time in neutral oak–probably not French–have distilled everything down in the bouquet to a beautiful patina of SERIOUS red wine. Definitely European, but a ripeness eluding description pervades its medium-ruby body. A serious floral note arises from new swirls, fitting in nicely with the savory density and slight carmelization of berry. This is not a simple wine.
Tasting it solves nothing, but solidifies it as one of the finest Croation wines I have had to date. If this country were in the business of making Claret, THIS would be my entry. They’d never see it coming. Just STUPIDLY good, layer upon layer of nuance–nothing simple except the enjoyment–everything a sparkling shell of complexity. The plummy roundness of a simple sniff *almost* hints at Zinfandel, but that is where the comparison ENDS. Rich and thick on the tongue despite its modest visual concentration, it deposits acidic residue on every surface: a grainy, gritty, grippy ache of fruit needing years of resolution. Delicate and un-slutty over the middle, grapefruit minerality churns at herbs de Provence and resolute tar & bitter, but the yummy berry, quince and creme de Cassis make a cocktail charging HARD into the finish of defensive tannin.
While possibly not resolutely varietally-correct, THIS is a wine SO impressive, so *world-class*, so perfectly balanced and structured–while maintaining charm and poise and easy drinkability–I DARE you to throw this thing out of bed. If it is 50 or 60 or even 75 dollars, it would have easy recognition with those peers. But knowing Croation wines: I imagine it’s HALF that price.
2016 TERRA MADRE Plavac Mali Komarna Vyd Middle & South Dalmatia Croatia 13.5