I haven’t had Croatian wine since I actually visited Croatia. And that was some time ago — long enough ago that I can’t recall what kinds of wines the country produces let alone what individual bottles tasted like. (This was pre-wine note-taking.) So I was thrilled when fellow bloggers/wine-sellers/good friends John and Irene Ingersoll of  topochinesvino.com offered to send me one of their favs. This wine, paired with a mouth-watering Croatian-inspired meal, was the perfect way to take me back to the Mediterranean. 

About the Wine: The Josić Ciconia Nigra Cuvée Superior 2013 is made from 35% Cabernet Franc, 30% Syrah, 20% Merlot, and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon harvested from the Slavonia Vineyards located in the Danube region of Croatia.

13.5% ABV

Flavor Profile: Immediate aromas of smoke, coffee grounds, charred meat, and the metal-scent of blood ooze out of the bottle upon opening the Josić Ciconia Nigra Cuvée Superior 2013. On the pour, this Croatian red blend is a brownish-red, settling into the glass with a bit more purple: a red meets purple meets brown — with that brown most prominent around the edge, bleeding into a burnt orange color. Despite its darkness, the wine is completely see through from core to edge.

Initial aromas are of stewed cherries, brambly branches, toasted oak wood, burnt chocolate, and coffee grounds. Swirl and find added scents of fertilizer funk, damp soil, dead roses, dead leaves — indeed it is a culmination of the lifecycle of a forest.

The palate of the Josić Ciconia Nigra Cuvée Superior 2013 is a solid medium, teasing with the idea of a full body. There are touchable tannins and a lively acidity that keeps the tastebuds alert. Dominant flavors are of chocolate, toasted oak wood, black cherry compote, coffee beans, almond skins, and a back-breath of licorice.

Food Pairing: I paired the Josić Ciconia Nigra Cuvée Superior 2013 with a charr-grilled octopus served on top of a crispy potato and arugula salad. (Click on the link to see a beautiful photo of this dish!) I created this pairing because the first time I had — and fell in love with — octopus was in Croatia. So I thought, what better pairing than a Croatian wine — which I haven’t had since I was in Croatia.

The charr on the octopus pulled out those dark, toasty notes in the wine. The delicate tannins perfectly contrasted the oily, crispy exterior of the potatoes, while simultaneously mimicking the root vegetable’s fluffy interior. And the arugula, whose bitterness was maintained by the slightly sweet homemade balsamic dressing, added the touch of freshness the meal needed.

Let me just say, there’s a reason this classically Croatian dish and classic Croatian cuvée wine were meant to be together. You’re just going to have to try it for yourself to really experience it.

More Info: I received the Josić Ciconia Nigra Cuvée Superior 2013 as a gift from fellow bloggers and wine retailers John and Irene Ingersoll who write and sell at topochinesvino.com. (Cheers guys!) Retail: $31. For more information about Josić and their restaurant, winery, and wines, please visit the Josić website.

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