Plešivica: home of Croatian sparkling wines
Located just an hour’s drive from Croatia’s capital, Zagreb, Plešivica is a continental wine sub-region in the southern part of the Žumberak mountain.
With an east-west orientation, it is a part of the larger Croatian Uplands wine region. Despite its relatively small size of only 2,300 hectares of vineyards, Plešivica is considered one of the most fascinating continental regions.
It is renowned for producing some of Croatia’s finest sparkling, orange (amber) and amphorae-aged wines.
Plešivica wine sub-region
To begin with, written records from 1370 indicate that in Plešivica, grapes for wine production were grown for six centuries.
The region’s microclimate is extremely favorable: an altitude of 500 meters keeps the fog away, while the average yearly insolation is 1900 hours with an average temperature of 11°C.
Some of the most unique Croatian vineyards are on steep southern slopes, protecting them from the cold north winds. The vineyards are scattered and inaccessible, so most must be processed manually.
Plešivica’s geographical position has one of the most eclectic wine scenes due to its vicinity to Zagreb, which has a serious growth in the number of tourists all year round.
Thanks to its pleasant climate, Plešivica is a great destination throughout the year. Additionally, wine cellars and hospitality properties are growing both in number and offer, thus leaving visitors satisfied and wanting to return.
Plešivica grape varieties
Popular white grapes grown in the Plešivica region are:
- Sauvignon Blanc,
- Pinot Blanc,
- Pinot Gris,
- Rizvanac (Müller Thurgau),
- Traminer (Gewürztraminer),
- Muscat Blanc,
- Muscat Ottonel.
Among red varieties, the most important grape varieties are:
However, it is important to say that there are still some old vineyards with various indigenous grape varieties that make some of the best Cuvée wines in the region.
Another interesting fact is that calcareous soil in the region is similar to that in Champagne and favors sparkling wine production, which has, over the years, become the forte of the Plešivica wine region.
Nowadays, many winemakers in the region have their style of sparkling wine. On the one hand, some are very similar to classical champagnes, for example:
On the other some are characteristic and express their respective terroir:
And some decided to use new technology for making fruity and particularly refreshing sparkling wines, such as:
Since we already mentioned amphora wines, Plešivica has a few winemakers practicing natural winemaking by using amphoras as a vessel for winemaking and wine aging.
This type of vinification is an ancient way of winemaking, and the point is to vinify white grapes as red ones, which results in a specific amber color. Wines of this type are called macerated, orange or natural wines.
A great example of amphora and orange wines from Plešivica are:
- Šember Qvevri,
- Tomac Amfora Traminac,
- Tomac Amfora Sauvignon,
- Tomac Amfora Riesling,
- Tomac Amfora Brut Nature,
- Jagunić Amber Red Traminer,
- Kolarić Amfora Pinot Grigio,
- Kolarić Amfora Neuburger.
Riesling also gives very nice results on Plešivica. You can find various ways of Riesling vinification – from crisp and fresh to complex ones aged in an amphora. The best ones are:
Likewise, some of Croatia’s best Pinot Noirs come from this region. Namely:
Portugizer is this region’s match to French Beaujolais as this wine is the first one ready for drinking.
In recent years, with the Croatian wine scene becoming more recognizable worldwide and the popularity of certain winemakers, Plešivica grew from a hidden gem into a respectable wine region and an unavoidable tourist spot.
The wines you should put on your tasting list come from Jagunić winery.
Some of their best wines are:
- Jagunić Three Stars Brut,
- Jagunić La Bulle Rose,
- Jagunić Blanc de Noirs,
- Jagunić Rizvanac,
- Jagunić Amber Red Traminer,
- Jagunić Blanc de Blancs,
One of the wine stars of Plešivica is Krešimir Ivančić. His family has been making wines for generations and has a long winemaking tradition, but it was always exclusively for their needs.
Krešimir is a perfectionist who lives for wine and vineyards and is best known for his Chardonnays and fresh and fruity sparkling wines. Some of the best wines from Ivančić Griffin winery are:
- Ivančić Griffin Single Vineyard,
- Ivančić Griffin Chardonnay Sur Lie,
- Ivančić Griffin Brut,
- Ivančić Griffin Zero,
- Ivančić Griffin Rose,
- Ivančić Griffin Dark Side,
- Ivančić Griffin Darkside Barrique.
His Darkside Barrique Portugizec, a wine chosen from the sunniest position on Plešivica, spent six months in oak barrels, a paradox since Purtugizec is typically enjoyed as a young, autumn wine.
Despite this unique aging process, Darkside retains its distinctive fruitiness and freshness while gaining deepened oak tannins that add a touch of elegance and sweetness.
It’s a curiosity to find a successfully aged “Croatian Beaujolais,” as the Portuguese grape variety is known locally.
While uncovering Croatia’s wine scene, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Plešivica!
Raise a glass of your new favorite Croatian wine and enjoy the picturesque hills of Plešivica as you wander from vineyard to vineyard, chatting with winemakers and dining with their families.
Before planning your next wine trip (hopefully to Croatia!), head to our offer of Croatian wines and indulge your senses in the ultimate wine experience!