Međimurje-Zagorjes Wine Route

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe The Međimurje Wine Route After spending several weeks exploring the wines and wineries of the Croatian coast of Dalmatia, we were headed towards Slovenia. However, while in Zagreb for a couple of days, we were advised to check out the Wine Route of the little region of Međimurje, about an hour north of Zagreb in the area bordering Slovenia and Hungary. Once there we didn’t regret the detour, for it was one of the loveliest spots in the interior of Croatia that we’ve seen. In this extremely green area, even in summer vineyards are sparkling and verdant on the slopes of the gently rolling hills that cover the land. In between grape vines there are dots of traditional family houses for those who are still here, making the wine. Although obviously not as touristic or popular as the Wine Routes on the coastal areas, we found Međimurje’s Wine Road to be surprisingly well-developed and organized. Not only were we handed several brochures and maps of the main twenty something wineries that are part of the route, but we also saw plenty of road signs showing the … Continue reading Međimurje-Zagorjes Wine Route

An Evening with Alen Bibić Part 2

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Alante – The Restaurant. This is a continuation of Part 1 where we talked about the history and how Bibich winery came about. Now, let’s get in to the fun of the wines we tasted. The Bodulski We started with the Debit 2006. It’s a very fresh white wine with a peachy nose and a slight bit of acidity. The finish has a bit of dryness that moves more in to some mineral tones as it breathes. Moreover, the wine does very well when chilled a bit, as there are sweet tones that come out from it, that you don’t taste unless at the proper temperature. We then moved in to the another white, the Debit Lučica 2005, which is actually very hard to come by because it sells out fast with just 1,800 bottles produced. There is a bit more citrus to the nose and a lovely, natural honey tones. The nose slips right in to the body, but loses a bit of the honey. This tricky honey part then comes back to great you again in the finish. The wine cleans up wonderfully and … Continue reading An Evening with Alen Bibić Part 2

An Evening with Alen Bibić Part 1

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe The town of Skradin. The Bibić Family have always been outsiders to some degree. Wine has been in their blood for a long time, but they’ve never really played by the rules. For instance, when everyone else was selling to the collectives during Yugoslavia, they didn’t. When everyone else stopped making wine in Skradin because of war, they didn’t, making them one of the very few producers in the region currently. And when everyone started spelling their names with a ‘ć’ instead of ‘ch’, they named their wines Bibich, instead of Bibić. These may seem like small things to the casual observer, but it was our opinion that they are the points in life and history that defined winemaking for the Bibić family today and specifically for the man at the helm, Alen Bibić. Alen Bibić We had the incredibly good fortune to sit down with him for several hours in his lovely new wine bar and restaurant (actually a joint partnership called, ‘Alante’- Alen and his friend Ante) in Skradin for a meal and a taste of his wines. Skradin is in and of itself … Continue reading An Evening with Alen Bibić Part 1

The Supetar Suprise in Baković

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe The port of Supetar. Hrvoj Baković is a tad tricky to find. It’s true that he’s in one of the biggest towns on Brač, Supetar, but we were on the lookout for a full winery and instead found his home. He was a little surprised by our tenacity (as were we) but he was very welcoming nonetheless, inviting us in for a little chat. Hrvoj and his wine. He’s quite a character who worked for many years as a sailor in New Zealand to save some money to start his own winery, before returning back to his homeland. Once there, he bought five hectares of land and worked to build up his winery. He started at something of a disadvantage because while his family has a history of growing grapes, they didn’t have a history of making wine. None of this has held back Hrvoj and he has learned a great deal about the climate of Brač in a short time. He knows what grapes work and what don’t. He is one of the few wine makers who has tried other grapes only to fall back … Continue reading The Supetar Suprise in Baković

Matulić of Dol on Brač

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. Matulić Plavac 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 … Continue reading Matulić of Dol on Brač

Theres More to Brač Than Sandy Beaches

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe The harbor to the right, winery to the left. Tourists dead center. The island of Brač, the third biggest of the 1,184 off the cost of Croatia, and the biggest in the region of Dalmatia, is mostly known for its postcard-perfect beach in the town of Bol. Described by the Croatian Tourist Board brochures as “the most beautiful beach on the Adriatic”, the famous Zlatni Rat (Golden Beach in Croatian) owes its fame to its original cone shape and for being one of the very few on the Croatian coast that features sand instead of rocks, pebbles, or the most unfortunate: concrete. PZ Wines. Although currently the economy of Brač is based mostly on beach tourism, historically it has always been famous for its wines, goat cheese, and olive oil (as well as its white stone which, as a side note, it was used to build the White House in DC). Nowadays the biggest and oldest winery in Brač is PZ Bol, the island’s cooperative that now belongs to the Jeruzalem wine company in Zagreb. Founded over a hundred years ago, in 1903, it is located … Continue reading Theres More to Brač Than Sandy Beaches

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

Vis Wine Route

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

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