This most popular variety in the world is a typical French variety that is the most widely grown in that country. It was named after the bird merle, which means blackbird in French.
In the Bordeaux region, merlot is mixed with the Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc varieties to produce a world-renowned wine of the same name. By spreading the good reputation of Bordeaux wines, merlot also spread around the world.
Due to the very favorable climatic conditions for merlot, in Croatia wines of this variety can be found in all regions, and the wine is mostly marketed independently.
The Pinot Noir variety originates from Burgundy and produces the best wines there. The characteristic for grapes of this variety is a very thin skin, and the wines are light-bodied with a ruby red color.
A good Pinot Noir is a dry wine that smells like berries such as blackberries, raspberries, cherries, sour cherries or all together. If stored in wooden barrels, they can smell like smoke. As these wines tolerate aging well, they get a touch of earth over time.
The Plavac mali variety is the third most represented variety in Croatia and the most important wine variety in Dalmatia. It is most widespread on the Pelješac peninsula, on the southern slopes of the island of Hvar, and on the slopes of the islands of Brač and Korčula.
The wines of Plavac mali can be full and powerful in taste, with alcohol content over 15% if they are grown on steep slopes by the sea when the grapes are heated three times - summer sun and sea during the day and by stones during nights. Wines from the interior of the islands are usually more fruity and lighter.
The wines of the autochthonous Istrian variety Teran already show their robustness and richness of character on the vine. The wine is full and strong, has a distinctive ruby red color with purple reflections, and a noticable raspberry aroma. Aging in oak barrels adds a touch of smoke and complexity.
Some oenologists consider Teran wine to be medicinal due to its high content of polyphenols, ie tannins.
The Cabernet Sauvignon variety was created by crossing Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon. It has a wonderful and very noticable varietal scent reminiscent of black currant.
Thanks to the quality of Bordeaux wines, the cultivation of this variety has spread all over the world and today it is a regular guest at all tables.
The wines are full-bodied, with more tannins and a certain acidity, which is a good basis for longer aging. While in wines from colder climates the note of black currant is more noticable, from warmer regions come wines with a note of cherries or black olives.
Cabernet franc is a very old wine variety. It is most often grown for the well-known blend of Bordeaux wines, but it is also vinified on its own.
Cabernet Franc wines are a bit lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon's, and depending on the region of cultivation and vinification, the aroma of the wine may have notes of smoke, black currant, raspberry and violet.
In Croatia, Cabernet Franc cultivation can be found in northwestern Istria.