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

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 2018

Vinarija Benkovac Korlat Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, Dalmatian Interior $29.95

Vinarija Benkovac Korlat Merlot 2018

Vinarija Benkovac Korlat Merlot 2018, Dalmatian Interior $29.95

Vinarija Benkovac Korlat Syrah 2018

Vinarija Benkovac Korlat Syrah 2018, Dalmatian Interior, $29.95

Badel Cuvée Benkovac 2021

Badel Cuvée Benkovac 2021, Dalmatinska Zagaora Benkovac Stankovcin Interior, $15.95

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 Peljesac Red 2020

Badel 1862 Peljesac Red 2020, Peljesac, South Dalmatia Coast $17.95

For Badel spirits, click here.


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.