Denis Bogoević Marušić and his father Mile are an impressive 42 years apart (Mile is 85 and Denis is 43). But as Denis’s wife Maja remarks, “Both are well preserved with natural wine” – and both are actively engaged in the winemaking at their small two-hectare estate Vinarki Križ in Croatia’s southerly Dalmatia.
The generation-spanning team isn’t the only point worthy of note – Vinarija Križ is, despite its small size, a frontrunner for organic agriculture in the region, being certified organic since 2008. Furthermore, Denis and Mile make one of the few examples of Grk to be found outside its native island of Korčula. Križ’s Grk 2016 is also notable for being macerated, harking back to a style that was almost certainly the norm a century ago. Right now, it’s possibly the only ‘orange’ Grk on the market.
Grk is a full-bodied, honeyed variety even without its skins, but here in its skin-fermented guise (with seven days of maceration), it gains yet more weight and complexity whilst retaining a typically fleshy, stone fruit character. This is an orange wine for all, not just the wine geeks. It’s soft, generous and accessible, with subtle citrus peel and almond hints that lift the finish and stop it from feeling too hefty.
White varieties aren’t the stock-in-trade on the sun-scorched Pelješac peninsula where Kriz are located. The Postup sub-region is more famous for heavy red wines made from Plavac Mali, and it must be noted that Križ’s Plavac is extraordinary for its elegance and minerality. Still, the sandy soils clearly also suit Grk, and given how little there is of this rare unisexual variety, it’s great to see it being grown slightly further afield from its usual stomping ground.
It’s not easy to get hold of Križ’s Grk at the time of writing, but see wine-searcher for their importers and retailers in a few select parts of the world. To be sure of tracking it down, a visit to the idyllic Mediterranean climes of Dalmatia is highly recommended.