Two Blue Danubian, Gisele Carig and Catherine Granger, visited Dalmatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina last April for the first time.
Catherine: It’s been 2 months since our trip to Croatia and Bosnia and I still remember everybody’s kindness and generosity, the striking scenery, and of course, all these fabulous wines and local dishes we were able to taste.
Gisele: One of my favorite food and wine moments of the trip happened on the last evening. We were relaxing on the Skradin marina with Alen and Vesna Bibić, along with a few of their friends. Alen was very generously pouring us his 2015 Debit. The light freshness of the wine along with its slightly green almond finish was exactly what we needed after two long weeks of traveling through Plavac country. Then it arrived…the risotto dreams are made of! Skradin is famous for this particular style of risotto appropriately called “Skradinski Rižot”. Traditionally made by men, this risotto is composed of veal that is cooked down for around 8 hours, or until it completely falls apart. The rich meat stock is added in stages to the rice as you would with any risotto. The texture is amazing! The meat basically becomes a smooth sauce that envelopes the rice. All this meaty richness calls for a wine with a good amount of acid. Debit to the rescue! Even though this is a young white wine, Alen’s Debit sourced from 40 year old vines, has complexity which becomes apparent with a deeply flavored dish like this.
Catherine: Talking about risotto, I still remember the squid ink risotto we had on Hvar at Vina Carić with their 2015 Bogdanjuša. It was our first day on Hvar and we had visited the Stari Grad plain vineyards with Ivana and Ivo Carić. It’s a UNESCO Heritage agricultural plain colonized by the Greeks where they grow their white grapes. After the visit, we were quite hungry and looking forward to our lunch at the winery. The first wine we tasted was their Bogdanjuša. It’s an ancient variety that only grows on the island of Hvar and few winemakers produce it. As its name indicates (it means “God given”), it was traditionally drunk during Church festivities. What I found remarkable about the Bogdanjuša was its bright citrusy acidity and refreshing lightness thanks to its low alcohol content (11%). The black risotto that was served with it had an unctuous texture and rich fishy flavors, and together, they were super delicious.
I really love fish and for me, another highlight of the trip was the lunch we had a few days before on the Mali Ston harbor with the Miloš brothers Ivan and Josip. The town is located at the entrance of the Pelješac Peninsula and is famous for its oysters and shellfish. To our delight, the oysters were part of the menu as well as a perfectly grilled fish that we ate with a generous drizzle of Miloš olive oil. For the occasion, the Miloš brothers had brought their 2015 Rosé: dry, juicy, fruity, mineral, sourced from old organically farmed Plavac Mali vines, a quite hearty wine for a Rosé and perfect with the briny, iodized oysters.
Gisele: There was also the trip we made on our first day over the border into Bosnia-Herzegovina to visit Josip Brkić. Josip focuses on varieties indigenous to his region; Zilavka for white wines and Blatina for reds. His whole philosophy is centered around honestly expressing terroir and not interfering too much in the cellar. Tasting his wines is like meeting him: approachable, unassuming, but completely genuine and remarkable. We weren’t able to have a meal with Josip but a few days later we got to enjoy some traditional Bosnian food with Franica Miloš in Dubrovnik. One of the highlights of that dinner was burek, a light pastry filled with meat. Burek is a popular street food and can be found in a variety of shapes and with various fillings. We couldn’t help but think about how perfect Josip’s red Plava Greda would have been with the flavorful burek. The wine has flavors and aromas of fresh cherry with a distinct minerality. There is a certain savoriness to the wine that would complement the delicate spicing of the meat filling.