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

New Croatian Classics of Plenković Part I

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

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

Vitai is Different

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

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

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

Bosnia and Herzegovinas Wine Route

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

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