Sviličić and Rokis, a Taste of Vis Locals

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Inside the tasting room of Roki’s. The wineries of Sviličić and Roki’s are two of the many small producers on Vis along the Wine Route. Ivo Sviličić and wine. They are working to grow their production capacity without stunting the quality of their wines. Obviously this is not an easy goal, but they both have long family traditions on the island that should give them a foundation for making this possible. Starting 10 years ago, Sviličić has been producing from two of his own hectares. Out of this, he produces 10,000 liters a year, of which 70% is white. We first tried his white, the 2006 Vugava. It has a good deal of fruit to the nose. The body sparkles a bit more than other Vugavas that we tried and there is a delicious touch of apple in the body. The finish pulls out very smoothly. From there, we tried his 2006 Plavac. It is a much more dry version of the wine than we’re used to. You can even smell the dryness in the nose, as well as some good berry aromas. The finish comes … Continue reading Sviličić and Rokis, a Taste of Vis Locals

PZ Podšpilje: The Uncollective Collective

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Roki Srećko shows us the steel casks. The Vugava PZ Podšpilje is one of those anomalies from the former Communist period in Former Yugoslavia. Despite being a central collective for the grapes in this area of Vis since 1924, it was never actually a state-owned collective like others that we’ve visited. Even though is was free from Communist oversight, it still maintains the rather heavy Socialist look to the building that makes it none too welcoming, although the people who work there are very friendly and were happy to see us. This is not surprising given the almost complete isolation that Vis lived under for decades. Showing us around and giving an introduction to the wines was Roki Srećko, the general manager. He also happened to be the enolog, which gave him a bit more character than the standard managers that we have often talked to. While they produce 300,000 liters a year from the 60 hectares that they source from, he only has about six people to manage all of this. We quickly got down to the business of wine and tasted their offerings. First … Continue reading PZ Podšpilje: The Uncollective Collective

A Call to Ivo Carić

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe As is usually the case in a small place, everyone seems to know everyone and this was perfectly illustrated when we were tasting at Svirče and they realized we hadn’t met with Ivo Carić, another local wine maker on Hvar. Ivo with his wine Despite the fact he is technically the competition, they called him up and told him to stop by with some of his wines to for us to taste. Just a bit later, in the door walks this large man, dwarfing the bottles he carried (no, that’s not a split he’s holding up in the photo, it’s a full 750ml) who, like most wine makers was delightful to talk to. Ivo started making wine as a full enterprise in 1993. Like most who started in the nineties, he was born of a long family tradition of wine making that stretches back five or six generations. He is something of a small producer making 50,000 liters a year. The grapes that go in to the production come from four hectares of his own and grapes he purchases from his neighbors. He makes two different … Continue reading A Call to Ivo Carić

Tasting Tomić and Duboković in Jelsa, Hvar

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Tomić, the man himself We visited two wine makers in the town of Jelsa on Hvar: Tomić and Duboković. While there are some similarities in the end result that you taste, the wine makers couldn’t be more different. The difference really comes down to personal style. Tomić is a bit, well, blustery. The picture at the top of this article is one of the main ones that adorns the wall in his tasting room in Jelsa and is a theme echoed throughout his wines. For instance there is a side profile of his face on his bottles. He calls his tasting room a “wine studio” for some reason. In person he has a demeanor that is hard to crack, although friends of his that we met, say that is just a first impression, so we’ll give him the benefit of a doubt on that. But, egoism aside, how do his wines stack up? Well, they’re good. They weren’t our favorite on the island mainly due to how light the body is. For instance, the nose on the 2006 Pošip is very pleasant with a hint of … Continue reading Tasting Tomić and Duboković in Jelsa, Hvar

A Big Taste of Svirče on Hvar

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe The beginning of tastes from Andrija Carić We have visited many of the formerly state-owned, large cooperatives that were remnants of the Communist area until they were sold off in to private hands. Our treatment has ranged from pleasant to here’s our boot and there’s the door. Svirče on Hvar has changed all this, because despite the fact they are a big producer (700,000 to one million bottles a year), they were very inviting and were great people to sit and talk about the wine production on this very touristic island. Dolac barrique These guys are the biggest producer on Hvar and if you’re a grower there and not selling your grapes to Plenković, Tomić, or Plančić, then you’re most likely selling to Svirče. Even though they could let this go to their head, they don’t and they know how to make some really good wines, which naturally, we had a good taste of. Actually, it was a great taste of nearly everything they produce, which we’ll sum up with some of the shining examples showing that big wine making can make great wines. Their 2005 … Continue reading A Big Taste of Svirče on Hvar

New Croatian Classics of Plenković Part II

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Plenković’s wine bar on the Adriatic After an introduction to Zlatan Plenković’s winery in Part 1 we will now continue with tasting notes on some of his wines. ‘Regular’ Plavac But, what about the wines they have now? We tasted them and they are fantastic. We started with the 2006 Zavala, which is a strong white wine at 13% alcohol that we hadn’t tasted before. It has a light fruit to the nose and carries a tad bit of citrus to it. Despite being 40% Pošip, it has a body that is more like Maraština, which is a much smaller part of the blend. Like any good wine, it gets more complex with more air, but retains the citrus tones out through the smooth finish. We then moved to the Zlatan Plavac 2005 ‘regular’. This is the most basic version of their Plavac, although it is not the ‘table wine’ level and is still very much a ‘high quality’ wine as rated by Zagreb. When you first smell the nose, it almost has some dessert wine aromas to it and is dark and sweet. The body … Continue reading New Croatian Classics of Plenković Part II

Hercegovina Produkt Delivers

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Barrels in the main cellar area Hercegovina Produkt is the rather forceful sounding name for a winery that started out as a family-run operation. In 2002 the Barbarić family took their 150 year-old tradition of making wine from being a small affair to being one of the bigger wine producers in the Herzegovina region. While it comes across as a very large company when you come up to the building from the road, there are only seven people running it. One of them is enologist Mirela Gudelj who was nice enough to take some extra time to show us around and give us a taste of their two main wines: Blatina and Žilavka. Blatina and Žilavka We started with the 2006 Žilavka which was quite typical of the region. It had nice soft fruit on the nose and was very fresh. The body was similar and gave of a sense of fresh cut vegetables and fruits, pointing to it being good, paired with salads and other appetizers in a meal. There is also a touch of apricot and peach to the body, which leads in to … Continue reading Hercegovina Produkt Delivers

Vinarija Čitluk Keeps Aging

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe A few of Čitluk’s top quality wines Čitluk is a smallish town in Herzegovina that has a surprising number of wineries in it. The biggest one is naturally the one that was the former collective for the area under Communism called, Vinarija Čitluk. While the name and the drab building aren’t the most exciting things in the world, they do produce a good number of wines of good quality. This is no small feat considering that they buy grapes from a massive area of 400 hectares in Herzegovina. They first fired up the barrels in 1960 and currently have 85 employees and a capacity of 11 million liters, although they produced a “mere” five million in 2006. Tihomir Prusina led us through a tasting of a few of their wines, starting with the 2005 Blatina. It had good fruit in the nose, but was rather light overall. The body was very dry and had a bit of sharpness to it. This did clear out though in the finish as well as with a bit more air in it. Main processing tanks We also had the 2005 … Continue reading Vinarija Čitluk Keeps Aging

Podrumi Andrija Expands on the Classics

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Andrija’s family sharing wine, meat, and cheese Our first stop along the Vinska Cesta of Herzegovina was at Podrumi Andrija. Like most wine makers in the area, the family has a tradition of wine that formed the foundation of the company. They were a bit different, though, as they actually started making wine to sell in 1971, which was not allowed under the Communist government. Apparently, family and friends worked to hide their wine making operation. Proving that they were a crafty group, they were able to continue growing during the war with their wine being routed through other countries with some fantastic scheme that we think we were better off not knowing about. Andrija’s Žilavka Barrique But now, in the 21st century, the winery is a full-fledged operation, producing from four hectares of their own and buying from 400 other people who grow on an additional 80 hectares. This allows them to have a well-appointed tasting room where they treated us to an extensitve tasting of their wines as well as some locally made pršut (smoked ham), which we always accept gladly. We started with … Continue reading Podrumi Andrija Expands on the Classics

Rubin: A Leading Serbian Cooperative Goes Private

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe A few Rubin wines Rubin is an interesting case of a former Communist cooperative that went private. One reason that it stuck out to us, was that it took an incredibly long time to privatize. Where most wine cooperatives were transferred to private hands during the 1990’s, Rubin only went private two years ago. Secondly, it’s more massive than any former cooperative we had encountered before. They produce five million bottles of liquor each year, three million of which are wine. They buy wine grapes from all over the region, including neighboring Macedonia. Lastly, they have vineyards in Kosovo of all places. All of these points make the company sound like any large-scale producer in America and thusly, our expectations were low; very low. We found it amazing that even though Rubin produces at such a large scale, their wines, especially the Terra Lazarica line are more than just drinkable and are even quite noteworthy. Rubin’s Cab Sauv We tasted the 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc that we found to have some good fruit aromas to the body and the nose. It was easy to drink and … Continue reading Rubin: A Leading Serbian Cooperative Goes Private