A Serbian Introduction Through Dulka

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe A taste at Dulka From Croatia, we traveled south through Montenegro (which is Plantaže country) and then north up to Belgrade. Curious about the local wine scene, we head up to the beautiful town of Sremski Karlovci, in the Fruška Gora wine region, to taste what the vintners in that area were doing with the grape. We found our way to Dulka (or Дулка in Serbian Cyrllic.) Đorđe Dragojlović (Dulka) is from a line of wine makers who started around 150 years ago in the region. Of course, the period of Communism severely impacted their production as they had to feed in to a central cooperative, just like any grape grower in the former Yugoslavia. But, with the beginning of the 1990’s, they ramped up production again. The Bermet He produces from eight hectares of land and makes about 36,000 liters of wine each year including a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and next year, Sauvignon Blanc. One very unique wine that we tried was called Bermet. This is dessert wine that’s rather hard to describe as it is its own creation. We’re not aware of it being … Continue reading A Serbian Introduction Through Dulka

Stipan Cebalo of Lumbarda

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Stipan CebaloOne of the last wineries we visited on the island of Korčula was that of Stpian Cebalo in Lumbarda. This is on the far southeast side of the island and is a place where tourists usually just go for the beaches. But it is here where Stipan has two hectares of land and is one of the few producers of the white wine, Grk. The man knows what he is doing and has a family tradition of wine making that dates back an amazing 500 years! Grk and Plavac Grk is a well-balanced white that doesn’t really push you one way or the other, but makes for pleasant drinking and is considerably different from Pošip, the other main white of Korčula. His 2005 ‘vrhunsko’ or high quality Grk has nice fruit aromas to the top and bottom of the nose. It is a bit dry, but not terribly so and has a nice finish. Stipan does not age this in oak at all and told us that he preferred not to have the oaky aromas to the wine, which seemed to be a good plan … Continue reading Stipan Cebalo of Lumbarda

The Craft of Bleuš and Kunjašić

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Stanojević and BleušTwo more of the smaller producers on Korčula are Bleuš and Kunjašić. They are both located around Smokvica and like many wine makers of this size, very tricky to find. You see, their cellars look just like any other house on the street and it’s not until you go inside that you see a whole wine making operation spread out from behind the old doors. It also makes it impossible to just drop by for a tasting or a visit, since you need to know someone who knows someone to call them and actually meet you as was the case when we went to Bleuš. But, they will always make it worth the hunt by rewarding you with good wines and great hospitality. Bleuš is a tricky name, since it really is the Stanojević Family that produces the wine now. Well, actually, it still is the Bleuš family (which they believe is really of French origins), but there were just two daughters to inherit the winery after their father passed away and it still is the custom for it to be the man’s family … Continue reading The Craft of Bleuš and Kunjašić

The Mighty Blato of Korčula

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Korčulanka fresh off the production lineWhen it comes to former Communist cooperatives on Korčula that transitioned in to successful private companies, there are none bigger than Blato 1902. Named after the town that they are located in, Blato produces a massive 1,000,000 liters a year and even has the capacity to produce more. But, they don’t make only wine. The produce rakija, aniseta, travarica, smokovača, rogačica, and komovica, as well as olive oil and vinegar. All told, there are about 30 wines and products that they make. Not bad for a company that was started by the local wine growers of the area in 1902. It was a little tricky to find, being that the main building is located behind a school of all things. Once we found it, our attempts at speaking Croatian with the employees was helped up and greatly improved upon by Sanja Protić and Ante Šeparović (one of the enologists) who spoke English and gave us the history and a tasting. We tried the 2005 Korčulanka which is at 12.5% alcohol and has a light fruit to the nose. This carries in … Continue reading The Mighty Blato of Korčula

Smokvicas Toreta

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Outside the tasting room with Smokvica in the background Like most single-owner Croatian wineries, the story of Toreta on Korčula is all about a family history of wine making that stopped during Communism and is now working to produce again. In this case, the man who has taken up the helm is the very young Frano Banicević, who, at 25 has begun to run the winery that his great-grandfather built at the turn of the 20th century. Like most of the new generation in Croatia that are taking over from their parents or grandparents, they are full of ideas and ways to get their wines more well-known. One of the biggest examples of this is that fact that there are actually signs to the Toreta winery and it is quite easy to find in Smokvica. Others are a little more subtle like a gradual change in the design of the bottle labels. While seen as something of a waste by the older generations, Frano is keenly aware of how much it affects the decision of the consumer. The barrel sign out front The one thing that … Continue reading Smokvicas Toreta

The Former Collectives of Korčula

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Vineyards in front of Čara Built in 1983, the company that is now Pošip Čara on the island of Korčula, started as one of the Yugoslavian wine making collectives. All of the grapes from the surrounding area in the town of Čara fed in to this one factory to produce the wines of which 90% were whites. There were 100 hectares of land which over time became dedicated to the production of Pošip. In standard Communist thinking, this centralized production made sense as there were plenty of areas that produced reds, so why not focus this region on just whites as they grew extremely well there? Well, the result of this today is that the region is still primarily growing only whites and while there are a few private growers in the region, the now privately owned Pošip Čara still dominates production with 300,000 bottles a year leaving their doors. This is all done with a scant 10 people on staff, of which, one is Toni Tomić who was actually a mechanic, showing us around as he spoke the best English. But, even though he worked … Continue reading The Former Collectives of Korčula

Miloš, Popular Beyond Pelješac

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Driving up the Pelješac peninsula from the Croatian mainland, Miloš is one of the first wineries one comes across. It is located in the little village of Ponikve just a few kilometers north of the walled town of Ston with its beautiful fortress. The StagnumIt Although the Miloš family has been making wine for over 100 years, like most families in the countries of the former Yugoslavia they had to sell their grapes to the state-owned cooperatives. So it was only in the beginning of the 1990’s that Miloš became a private business, and is now producing about 50,000 liters of wine annually. Today Frano Miloš has managed to make the family winery into one of the most successful in the Pelješac region, and frequently receives large tour groups in their new tasting room and century-old family cellar. Miloš produces a broad range of wines in each of the quality categories existing in Croatia (table, quality, high quality and special). Since we couldn’t try them all, we decided to taste their most popular varietal, the Plavac. It was a vintage from 2004 with a 12.6% of … Continue reading Miloš, Popular Beyond Pelješac

Meet the Pelješac Peninsula with Bartulović

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Their very nice brochure Another interesting small wine producer that we found on the Pelješac peninsula was Bartulović, in the little village of Prizdrina near Potomje. We met Mario Bartulović, the manager of the winery located in his beautiful 500-year-old family house. His father Teo started producing in 1989 after having spent some time in Italy. They had to play a bit of catch up initially due to the long pause in production and until 1996 they were using a 220-year-old grape press. The old wine press With a small production of around 20,000 liters a year, Bartulović produces three red wines, a white, a rosé and a few bottles of a very exclusive dessert wine, a Prošek. One of their reds, the Puncta, is a limited vintage biodynamic wine, made of Plavac Mali grapes grown on an ecologically tested vineyard, free of artificial supplements and chemicals. We tasted the white Rukatac from 2005, with 12.5% alcohol, made of a local varietal that is also known as Maraština in the Konavle region. It had a very light nose but a bit of a sharp taste at … Continue reading Meet the Pelješac Peninsula with Bartulović

The Craft of Kiridžija and Matković

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe In Kiridžija’s cellars While there is a great deal of large-scale wine production going on in Potomoje on the Pelješac peninsula, there are also a number of small producers who are crafting excellent wines on their own terms. They’re not easy to find and if you were to ask us where they were, we’d most likely have to point you to the first place we asked a person who knew a person who knew a person that eventually led to the homes and cellars of Kiridžija and Matković. Both of them are tucked away in homes where you’d never suspect that some fantastic wine making was taking place. Kiridžija’s wines We started with Kiridžija. He has been making wine for the last 12 years, which is right in line with most of the region, as that was the time when the former Yugoslavia fell apart and they were able to start producing on their own again. In his 300 year-old home, he produces small quantities of both Plavac and Dingač. Let us reiterate that these are actually the same grape, but grown in very different regions … Continue reading The Craft of Kiridžija and Matković

Miličić: A Hobby Goes Big

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Pavo Miličić had a long career working on the sea. He eventually made his way up the ranks to being a captain and worked in the cruise industry for some time. Despite traveling the world, winemaking was in his blood though. Like many in the Pelješac region, his family were growing wine previous to WWII when they stopped due to the new Communist regime not allowing any private wine production.Twenty years ago, Pavo started to try his hand at the grape again. Time passed and what started as a hobby quickly grew in to a company that produces about 300,000 bottles a year now. The production level of his winery has gotten so large that a year ago he formally quit his seafaring job to focus solely on his wines and built a new, larger facility that could produce upwards of 500,000 bottles. For all appearances, he seems to be handling the transition in stride and showed us around despite being deep in the middle of construction. We tasted everything straight from the barrels as many of his wines are still in the process of aging … Continue reading Miličić: A Hobby Goes Big