Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe
Frane Matulić in his tasting room.
Dol is a small village tucked away in the deep recesses of a small valley of the island of Brač, which explains the name that merely means ‘valley’ in Croatian.
It’s a really lovely village that doesn’t seem to see a lot of traffic and because it’s not near the beach, the look of the town is 100% authentic with no ugly beach apartments. This also explains why there are only 112 people living in a village that once sported a slightly more bustling 750 souls. It is here, nestled in a 130 year old house and wine cellar that Frane Matulić makes his wines.
He started four years previous and is currently pumping out 27,000 liters of wine a year. This is produced from the one hectare that he cultivates and about 20 more that he buys from. There is a wine growing tradition in his family, which has been additionally tempered with a dose of large business acumen working as the general director for Badel 1892, a massive alcohol producer in Croatia that is based in Zagreb. It was only after working there for 25 years that he decided to somewhat retired and start making wine. Of which, he makes several varietals: Plavac Mali, Pošip, Viver (a red), and Vivera (a white).
We started off tasting his 2005 Plavac Mali barrique. It has a nice earthy nose on top of standard Plavac aromas. There are a bit of moist blackberries that carry though under the top aromas of the nose. While the body is a tad acidic at first, it mellows out a great deal with air. The finish cleans up with some nice round buttery tones. Even still, Frane is something of a perfectionist and says that his 2006 vintage will be even stronger because it actually spent less time in the barrels. We could taste the difference the barrels made when we moved to the 2005 Plavac Mali that hadn’t been barrel-aged. The lack of oak in this vintage makes it even more drinkable than the barrique. The body is very light and easygoing. The light berries in the nose come through even easier and as Frane showed us, it is quite splendid when blended with the barrique 50-50.
Frane is very interesting fellow who, despite his business background is right at home amongst the grapes. Given his ability to change and grow with his wines, the vintages in the next few years will undoubtedly be sound examples of the fine wine making tradition on Brač that died out for awhile, yet is coming back to some degree.