Croatia has seen an explosion of rosé since 2021, when we published our first pink wine review. Not only are more rosés being made, but they are more readily available as wine lovers (both visiting and Croatian) realize just what delightful summer wines they are. So we decided to line up another 6 Croatian rosé wines for a 2023 edition.
Usually the wines themselves dominate our tastings, but this time the conversation was equally fascinating. One guest taster was devoted to the style she considers quintessential rosé—a style synonymous with Provence wines. And it’s true that the majority of rosé producers around the world have looked at the success of Provence pinks (that barely-there peachy rosepetal hue, the fruity-floral notes of Grenache, Cinsaut, Mourvèdre and occasionally Syrah) and at least considered trying to mimick them.
But what if the grapes in your wine region are bold and distinct, like Plavac Mali in Dalmatia or Teran in Istria? In this case, going for that lightest of colors to attract the eye of rosé purists may mean giving up flavor.
Is rosé wine just a money-making beverage, processed to fit a profile? Or should it be held to the usual standards of wine—that the grape varieties should express themselves, that the wine should in some way represent where it came from?
It’s an interesting question to ponder over a glass of pink wine. But we won’t make you choose a side—all you need to know is what you enjoy! Here are six glasses to try.
Note: This tasting is meant to be readable, not comprehensive. We tasted six wines, not 60. The wines are listed in alphabetical order by producer. A star (*) indicates wines that stood out for their quality and flavor on the day of the tasting. Prices are those at the winery or winery webshop.
Antunović Cuvée Rosé 2021 (Erdut) €9
Made in Croatia’s far eastern region, on the banks of the Danube, this popular rosé is from Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The Cabernets give the wine a mild earthy note like green bell peppers in addition to its white peach aromas, bright lemon and pomegranate flavors, and a touch of smoke. Some of us found the earthiness refreshing; one commented, “I like earthy more in my red wines.” This flavor varies noticeably by vintage year.
*Bire Rose 2022 (Korčula) €12
This wine has undergone a transformation over the past few vintages. We liked that it tastes like its grape: Plavac Mali. Its color, though, is definitely Provence pastel. It has the lively acidity you want from rosé (comments were “refreshing!” and “it pops”) and just a touch of tannin, with restrained flavors of earthy pomegranate, black tea, rosehip. It is a clear favorite in our lineup. But one of us remembers how much more lusciously fruity this was when it was day-glo pink.
Dvorac Belaj Rosé 2021 (Istria) €9
The rich aroma of this wine won us over: fresh roses, black plum, fig… “The smell is delicious—I smell it and I’m excited to taste,” said one guest. The flavor is a little more subdued, leaning toward dried roses, black tea and a long finish of dried fig. It is the darkest in color—the exact hue of Dalmatian terra-cotta rooftops—and has a little more tannin than the rest. It’s hearty and flavorful, a little surprising from Pinot Noir. But in a good way!
Enosophia Matarouge 2021 (Slavonia) €7
This pretty, salmon-pink rosé is a 50-50 blend of Frankovka (aka Blaufränkisch) and Pinot Noir. “Refreshing” is the name of the game here. It is bright with a subtle floral aroma and classic cherry-pom flavors, with a touch of tannin to cleanse the palate. It’s not a wine for pondering the meaning of life, but if you need a solid quaffer while you’re people-watching from a café on the town square, it can’t be beat.
*Kabola Rosa 2022 (Istria) €12
Kabola has achieved the barely-there Provence hue in its rosé from Teran. And our rosé classicist immediately pegged this as the one she wants to drink. She didn’t think she would go for a Teran rosé—and that’s the hitch, if there is one: few people would detect the Teran grape here. But it is “delicate,” with a “nice balance of fruity and floral.” The conclusion: “If I’m drinking rosé, I want something easy, light, refreshing. And this is it.” Organic
Meneghetti Rosé 2021 (Istria) €17
Definitely “not your fruit-salad rosé.” This is earthy—think of overripe black cherries, when they’ve lost a bit of their sweetness. Maybe a bite of baguette, some pomegranate juice (without the tannic seeds). The acidity hits on the back of the palate rather than the front, making the wine seem softer. And the alcohol clocks in at 14%—not a recipe for freshness. Of the six wines, this pink Merlot was perhaps more suited for food than for sipping.
Cheers Croatia Magazine conducts wine tastings in the semi-blind format. This means that we know what wines we have, but they are placed in numbered bags so we can’t identify them during the tasting. Wines for tastings are purchased, or occasionally donated by the winery. See the magazine’s Affiliations and Gifts Policy for more information.