Meet the Pelješac Peninsula with Bartulović

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

The Craft of Kiridžija and Matković

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe In Kiridžija’s cellars While there is a great deal of large-scale wine production going on in Potomoje on the Pelješac peninsula, there are also a number of small producers who are crafting excellent wines on their own terms. They’re not easy to find and if you were to ask us where they were, we’d most likely have to point you to the first place we asked a person who knew a person who knew a person that eventually led to the homes and cellars of Kiridžija and Matković. Both of them are tucked away in homes where you’d never suspect that some fantastic wine making was taking place. Kiridžija’s wines We started with Kiridžija. He has been making wine for the last 12 years, which is right in line with most of the region, as that was the time when the former Yugoslavia fell apart and they were able to start producing on their own again. In his 300 year-old home, he produces small quantities of both Plavac and Dingač. Let us reiterate that these are actually the same grape, but grown in very different regions … Continue reading The Craft of Kiridžija and Matković

Miličić: A Hobby Goes Big

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Pavo Miličić had a long career working on the sea. He eventually made his way up the ranks to being a captain and worked in the cruise industry for some time. Despite traveling the world, winemaking was in his blood though. Like many in the Pelješac region, his family were growing wine previous to WWII when they stopped due to the new Communist regime not allowing any private wine production.Twenty years ago, Pavo started to try his hand at the grape again. Time passed and what started as a hobby quickly grew in to a company that produces about 300,000 bottles a year now. The production level of his winery has gotten so large that a year ago he formally quit his seafaring job to focus solely on his wines and built a new, larger facility that could produce upwards of 500,000 bottles. For all appearances, he seems to be handling the transition in stride and showed us around despite being deep in the middle of construction. We tasted everything straight from the barrels as many of his wines are still in the process of aging … Continue reading Miličić: A Hobby Goes Big

Two-Donkey Matuško

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe To distinguish themselves from their very close neighbor, the Dingač winery, Matuško has been putting two donkeys on their label to make them distinct from the one donkey that Dingač uses. The differences aren’t label-deep though, as Matuško is a much smaller winery, producing 500,000 bottles a year that are sourced mainly from their own vines that are nine hectares in size.Their winery is very friendly and set up to receive tour groups who can get a tasting of all 11 wines that they produce. Additionally, there is a downstairs tasting room with old farming implements and salutes to the donkeys that are no longer needed to carry the grapes over the mountain from the Dingač vineyards now that the Dingač Tunnel exists. We were told by our host that while we may see donkeys in the region still, they are strictly for the purposes of tourists and then their lives are much easier now. We selected several wines for tasting from their lineup and started with the 2006 Rukatac. This is light white wine, which is also called Maraština in areas such as Konavle, further … Continue reading Two-Donkey Matuško

One-Donkey Dingač

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe There is a bit of confusion surrounding the wine producer, Dingač on the Pelješac Peninsula in Croatia. The issue primarily revolves around the fact that the major wine region in Pelješac is called Dingač and that this is also the name of this company. This in by itself wouldn’t be so bad except that several other winemakers in the area also make a wine which is called Dingač, because their wines are made from the high-quality grapes of this region. So, to clear this up once and for all, the wine producer, Dingač, is what’s left from the cooperative that was built there in 1982 for wine production in what was then, Yugoslavia, and the one that features a donkey logo in its wine labels. >The cooperative had been actively producing wines before then, since about 1960. Today, they still function in a similar fashion wherein they buy the grapes from small, local farmers for large-scale wine production to the tune of 1.5 million liters a year. The big difference between now and before the fall of communism is that grape growers now have the choice … Continue reading One-Donkey Dingač

Dingač, a Very Unique Wine-Growing Region in Southern Dalmatia

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Pelješac is a 65km long peninsula in Southern Dalmatia, about an hour north of Dubrovnik, which produces some of the best wines in Croatia. The majority of them are produced from the red Plavac Mali grapes grown in a thin strip of land of only 2km in the Southwestern side of the peninsula, known as the Dingač region. Dingač comprises the lower half of a steep mountain that runs along the sea by the village of Potomje on the other side of the mountain. For centuries, the people of Potomje and the surrounding villages had to travel on donkeys, horses or mules to tend to the vineyards in the Dingač slope, on the other side of the mountain. They also had to bring their yearly harvest by those same beasts of burden to Potomje, to crush and age the grapes. Naturally, this was a very labor intensive process, so in the early 1970’s all the wine growing families in the area decided to pool their money and order the construction of a tunnel through the mountain. This tunnel, which was finished in 1973, made life a … Continue reading Dingač, a Very Unique Wine-Growing Region in Southern Dalmatia

Miljas – A Family Rebuilds

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe. The home of the Miljas family was built in 1897 when the great-grandfather of the family began to produce wines in the Konavle Region at the southern-most tip of Croatia. With the invention of Yugoslavia, their winemaking stopped as they had to feed their grapes in to the general collective for wine production and could not produce it themselves. As Croatia broke away from Yugoslavia, they again began to produce, but only to be forced to abandon their homes when the Yugoslav Army rolled in to the area for a lengthy occupation. While their vines didn’t immediately suffer any damage, the fact that they couldn’t tend to them caused a great deal of harm to the old vines and they were forced to replant nearly all of their vines. Thankfully, they did not have to contend with landmine removal as a great many winemakers in the area of Slavonia did, which greatly sped up the process of replanting. Today, they are growing again and producing good quality wines from the region. Like most wineries in Konavle, they were very hard to find and are actually in … Continue reading Miljas – A Family Rebuilds

Visiting Crvik Winery

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe. Čilipi is a small town in Croatia near Dubrovnik and it’s not known to many foreigners as being anything other than home to the airport for Dubrovnik. But, just over a hill or two, in a village of Čilipi called, Komaji is the family winery of Crvik. It’s a nice, out of the way setting that is very much off the beaten path and takes some searching to find. There, in a little vale, Crvik grows their two hectares of vines amongst a very forested area that is a sharp contrast to the rugged grey rocks that are a dominant part of the Damatian Coast of Croatia. Like most wineries, they also source grapes from the Konavle region as well to meet their 100,000 liter a year production. All of this is barrel-aged in oak from Slavonia, the top, eastern-most region of Croatia. Like most wineries in the region, the breakup of Yugoslavia was very tragic for them. They lost all their old vines because they were unable to tend to them and had to replant everything again upon returning home after the war. Thus, all … Continue reading Visiting Crvik Winery

Large Production at Dubrovački Podrumi

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe. The Konavle region is at the most southern point of Croatia, even further south than Dubrovnik, bordering Montenegro. Historically, it was the region that produced all of the food for what was the Ragusan Republic and is present-day Dubrovnik. These days, the fields are covered with a great many grapevines and a lot of that feeds in to Dubrovački Podrumi, which is a very large wine producer in Gruda, a small town at the southern end of Konavle. Upon first glance, the building is anything but welcoming. The concrete construction that echoes the “aesthetic” of Socialist construction is menacing. There is no business name out front and we had to look for the tell-tale signs of new bottles on palettes to know we were in the right place. With some rather awkward Croatian, we talked to a worker who was leaving for lunch and were guided around to the other side of the building where they’ve built a very pleasant tasting room, but without any signs pointing you there. Upon entering, we could see why the signs were scarce, since it was very apparent that they … Continue reading Large Production at Dubrovački Podrumi

The First Release of Perafita

Over a summer two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe. While staying in Catalonia, we set out from Figueres to make a day trip to Cadaqués. Due to misunderstanding of roundabout, we ended up on the isolated northern beaches of Roses, but managed to eventually twist and turn our way back to the right road. This delay ended up being incredibly lucky as it had us driving over the top of a hill where the vineyards of Perafita are located. We entered the winery at the exact right time to visit while they were having their grand release day for their very first wines: Perafita 2005, Cadac 2004, Muscatel 2006, and Garnatxa 2006. The Perafita and Cadac were both reds. Perafita was the lighter of the two, even though it had an alcohol content at 14.5%. You could really taste the Merlot and Garnatxa in the blend as the Cabernet Sauvignon seemed to be propping those two up more than the other way round. It also had strong oak flavors to it that came through very well. The Cadac was much deeper and approached a more standard California alcohol level of 15% in an area where … Continue reading The First Release of Perafita