Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Only in a place like Vis do both ways lead to wine. Only 8 miles to the Southwest of Hvar, lies another island with an even longer wine-making tradition than the former: Vis. Sign along the route The furthest inhabited island from the coast, Vis was founded in the year 4 BC and for nearly all that time, it had been producing wine. Already in the year 28 AD some Greek poet praised the wine from Vis (which at the time was known as Issa) for being far better than that of the other islands. Nowadays, Vis’ wines lag behind those of neighboring Hvar due to their less advanced technology and lack of economic development on the island. During World War II, Vis, because of its strategic importance, at one point became the main hideout for Josip Broz Tito and the partisans (the Yugoslav resistance movement) and after the war the Yugoslav Army continued to use it as one of its main naval bases. For that reason, until 1989 Vis was closed to all visitors and tourists, and all its economy revolved around keeping up the … Continue reading Vis Wine Route
Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe An hour and a half by ferry from Split, the capital of Dalmatia, lies Hvar island. Called Pharos by the Greeks that occupied the island since the 4th century BC, Hvar is the longest of all Croatian islands, a narrow strip of land stretching for 42 miles. In the last few years it has become a popular touristic destination and is now famous for its lavender (of which we didn’t actually see any), and its Plavac mali wines. Plenkovićs at work While not a household name in the United States, the wines of Zlatan Plenković have gotten extremely well known in wine circles and haven’t stopped receiving international awards and recognition. Based in the little village of Sveta Nedelja on the Southeastern coast of the island, Zlatan Plenković’s first release was just a few years ago in 1999 and he has only been producing since 1996. In that time, his wines have gotten to be in such high demand that they sell out of all their reds three months after bottling. Zlatan Plenković is very unfortunately not in the best of health these days (although that … Continue reading New Croatian Classics of Plenković Part I
Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Sanja Juricić samples the wines of her family Vitai is the company name for the brand of wine in Bosnia Herzegovina that most people know as Gangaš. It is a very different winery in the region for several reasons. The first being that it is run by three women: Olivera Juricić and her daughters, Sanja and Anđa. This is unheard of in this area because men are the wine makers and that is the end of the discussion. Women may be the enologists for a large company, but men make the wine. Blatina big and small Obviously it was not always the case that women ended up making the wine in this company, and it was the untimely passing of Sanja and Anđa’s father that brought this about. But, instead of folding or selling to another winery as was often the case in the past, they took up the reigns and have become one of the biggest family-owned wineries in Herzegovina producing 75,000 liters last year and having a capacity of 150,000 liters. Not bad for a place that really started in earnest, in 1995 and … Continue reading Vitai is Different
Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Herzegovina, the Southern region of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is the land of sun and stone and because of this it is the biggest and single wine producing region in the country. The majority of the wines produced in Herzegovina are made with the autochtonous varieties of Žilavka (white) and Blatina (red). B&H has a long tradition of wine growing and production from the Illyrian period. However, the wine growing region in B&H was historically much bigger than it is today, but with the Ottoman rule this type of production was gradually extinguished due to many successive wars, because grapevines require a high degree of maintenance and even a month away from them can be catastrophic. Currently, the production of wine is limited to the confluences of the rivers Neretva and Trebišnjica. Herzegovina hills Because of the long wine-growing history in Herzegovina, and the quality and abundance of its wineries, last year the European Union decided to fund a project of the association of vintners of the region called Vinska Cesta (Wine Route) to promote Herzegovina wines. About four few months ago, the Tourism Association of the … Continue reading Bosnia and Herzegovinas Wine Route
Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Downtown Sremci Karlovci Red Bermet Bermet is a sweet wine that is a specialty of northern Serbia’s Fruška Gora wine region, in the Vojvodina province. It has between 16 and 18% of alcohol and it is usually served as a dessert wine, with coffee and cookies, but can also be served as an aperitif, much like Italian Vermouth. However, Bermet is produced in a different way than Vermouth, through maceration of 20 different herbs and spices. It can be made of red or white grapes, but the exact recipe is secret and held by only a handful of families in the town of Sremci Karlovci. Dulka winery, for example, told us that he makes the base of his white Bermet are župljanka grapes, a local variety, and Merlot for his red. Other vintners seem to use Portugieser, and others blend both red and white grapes. White Bermet As the story goes, Bermet was very popular among the aristocracy of the Austro-Hungarian empire and was regularly exported to the court in Vienna in large quantities. Moreover, according to some documents, a few Bermets were even included in … Continue reading What is Bermet?
Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe While in Belgrade, we decided to take a little day trip to the little wine-making town of Srmeski Karlovci to discover some Serbian wines, and we discovered by chance that a wine festival was starting the follwing day in Novi Sad (from the 28th to the 30th of July), the second largest city in Serbia and the capital of the Vojvodina province. Rubin’s wines So we spent a couple of extra days in Novi Sad enjoying wines not only from Serbia, but also from the whole Southeastern European region, at this festival, which is growing in popularity every year. Among the Serbian wines, we had the chance to taste many Bermets from different producers, all them delicious, but also some excellent regular wines. Among the reds, we were impressed by the high quality of Rubin’s Terra Lazarica Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, which were a pleasant surprise from such a big winery that produces around 5 million bottles of wine a year. In the white deparment, Aleksandrovic‘s Sauvignon Blanc was simply outstanding. Istrian lunch Then we also got the chance to taste some Macedonian and Croatian … Continue reading Novi Sads 4th International Wine Festival
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
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