Winery Profile: Badel 1862 in Croatia

By Sara d’Amato

This feature was commissioned by EU.

The ombre blue-green coastline of Dalmatia is just across the Adriatic from Italy and boasts some of the best-kept secret beaches in Europe and — not to mention — wine regions. If you’ve been following along with WineAlign over the past year, you may have tapped into our collective excitement over the quality and potential of wines we have tasted from Croatia.

My overarching critique is that the prices are generally not low for consumers who are inherently skeptical. Yet, small production houses reign in Croatia and the quantities for export are limited. Is it not better to emerge with a strong price point or is it more prudent to work your way up from accessible prices yet risk being considered a “value-driven” wine nation? A topic for further debate and less generalization. Yet, food for thought, as this past week the WineAlign team was afforded a tasting of wines from one winery group, largely focused on the production of wine in Dalmatia, a key region for quality wine production in Croatia.

Badel 1862 is Croatia’s largest and oldest producer of wine and spirits and, as such, prices are more accessible in export. Be advised that this piece is sponsored by the EU, but the opinions and reviews herein are our own.

Croatia has been producing wine for two thousand years, but the modern wine period was jumpstarted in 1991 when Croatia, formerly part of Yugoslavia, became a democratic republic, causing a cultural reinvigoration with an influx of investment in tourism.

Ten years later, grape geneticist Carole Meredith of U.C. Davis, who was researching the origin of the widely popular zinfandel, revealed that the variety originated in Croatia. It was locally known as tribidrag or crljenak kaštelanski and was on the verge of disappearing in its homeland.

This discovery further galvanized interest in zinfandel, the parent of Croatia’s best-known red grape variety, plavac mali. The Badel 1862 portfolio includes many examples of this variety grown on the Dalmatian coast along with a number of French varieties such as cabernet sauvignon, syrah and merlot.

Many of the wines we tasted from the Badel 1862 portfolio were grown in Southern Dalmatia, on the island of Hvar or on the Peljesac Peninsula, a tourist spot between Split (the stronghold of crljenak kaštelanski) and Dubrovnik. Both regions focus on the production of plavac mali. The former is home to significant old vine plantings of indigenous varieties on the seashore all the up to terraces cut into the steep slopes. The latter, the Peljesac Peninsula, features limestone, sunshine, and elevation – signs of a dynamic and watch-worthy viticultural region. The narrow peninsula reaches 960 meters in elevation and is composed of karistic limestone that is also found in Puglia, home to a wealth of much-loved primitivo (aka zinfandel). Tannic and muscular reds — as well as a riper style of welschriesling, known locally as graševina — are quite common.

Besides being Croatia’s largest and oldest producer of wine and spirits, who is Badel 1862 and what wines do they produce? The company includes five wineries from various regions in Croatia including Benkovac Winery, Daruvar Winery, Ivan Dolac Hvar, Tenimenti Civa, and Wines of Croatia. Distillation was the company’s historical initiative going back to 1862 and, in 1967, they began to develop their wine program. As of 2001, operations continue in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Northern Macedonia.

Let’s have a look at what they have to offer. All wines are represented by United Stars Corporation Group. The top scoring wines are featured below with links to all reviews underneath.

Benkovac Winery, Korlat Position

The expansion of the Benkovac Winery began in 2004 and it now has 110 hectares of vine planted to “stone maquis” otherwise known as crystalline schist, with a southern French inspired design. Mainly French varieties are planted to this site in the Benkovac-Stankovci winegrowing region, including merlot, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and mourvèdre, on poor, stony soils at elevations reaching 300 meters, just inland from the Dalmatian coast, north of Split.

Vinarija Benkovac Korlat Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, Dalmatian Interior $29.95

A chalky full-bodied cabernet sauvignon from just inland on the southern Dalmatian coast. Velvety but with some tannic grip and a pleasant floral perfume. Thick in mouthfeel with some volume and warming influence from alcohol. A bit rustic but cleanly made with plenty of blackberry and plum, devoid of meddling oak spice.

Vinarija Benkovac Korlat Merlot 2017, Dalmatian Interior $29.95

Packaged in a stout bottle, this organically grown merlot features a pleasant balance of acidity and tannin as well as a crunchy, salty texture. The wine has an appealing mineral bite with chalkiness and a hint of iron. No notable oak spice and with more intrigue than expected. Some unresolved tannins still provide grip on the finish of good length.

View all Benkovac Winery reviews here.

Daruvar Winery

Daruvar Winery’s vineyards extend over gentle slopes in Bilogora, Papuk and Psunj, in eastern Croatia, near the Slovenian border, at 150–230 meters in elevation with more than 160 hectares planted to vine. The winery has a focus on white varieties such as graševina, sauvignon blanc  and rajnski rizling.

Vinarija Daruvar Vezak Sauvignon 2017, Daruvar, Eastern Croatia, $16.95

A sleeper surprise with a late harvest feel, this sauvignon blanc is so comfortable in its maturity, which gives the wine a wealth of pleasant tertiary notes. Flavours of honeycomb, olive oil and preserved lemon rind linger on the finish of notable length. Lightly creamy with an acidic-driven precision that lifts the fruit. 

View all Daruvar Winery reviews here.

Ivan Dolac Hvar

South-facing plantings on the Island of Hvar result in a small winemaking haven with more hours of sunshine than anywhere on the Adriatic. There are ecological sanctions here that prevent the use of non-organic fertilizers — so this is an important region for sustainable production in Croatia.

Badel 1862 Ivan Dolac Barrique Plavac Mali 2015, Hvar Island $40.95

A more tannic expression of island plavac mali, with distinctive fruit and barrel-derived spiciness. Notably floral and brimming with ripe blackberry and black currant. The tannins are still firm and the wine expresses a good concentration of fruit despite having spent seven years in bottle.

View all Ivan Dolac Hvar Winery reviews here.

Badel 1862 Peljesac Red 2019

Badel 1862 Peljesac Red 2019, Peljesac, South Dalmatia Coast $14.95

I encourage readers to taste Croatian wines beyond this singular wine group. Relatively speaking, Badel 1862 offers more accessible price points than many producers, affording those new to Croatian wine a taste of the Adriatic.


This feature was commissioned by EU. As a regular feature, WineAlign tastes wines submitted by a single winery, agent or region. Our writers independently, as always, taste, review and rate the wines — good, bad and indifferent, and those reviews are posted on WineAlign. We then independently recommend wines to appear in the article. Wineries, wine agents, or regions pay for this service. Ads for some wines may appear at the same time, but the decision on which wines to put forward in our report, and its content, is entirely up to WineAlign.