Sea, Wine, Guitars and – Waves!

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Always working and active, the bees from our WOW association recently had their sea christening. They took part in the sailing rally organised by the Plavac Mali Zagreb association, titled “On the Paths of Plavac Mali.” WOW participants – Ksenija Vrabec, Augusta Fabijanić, Maja Jagodić-Štimac, Margita Belušić-Gobić, Nevija Tirelli and Irfana Bašić are still savouring the impressions. From Split to Hvar, on to Vis and then Šolta, we sailed on four sailboats. Although the journey could be described as exhausting or arduous – wet, wavy, damp and sleepless – the joint impression of this unique, once in a lifetime experience of “recharging” and soul cleansing is positive. It was an experience to remember – a combination of active sailing with wine and gourmet hedonism proved a winner. Thoughts were far from reality, often an unattainable goal for most.

The journey began on the night of 4-5 October when the merry crew got on a bus to Split. At the very start there were problems with Bura winds, which met them in Split as well, not stopping them to get on board and bravely head out to search for Plavac Mali. They arrived to Stari Grad on Hvar island, the goal of the first stage, in the late afternoon hours. After a short rest they toured the nearby Tvrdalj once belonging to Petar Hektorović, where they were met by renowned Hvar winemakers Tomić, Carić and Duboković. Listening to stories of Stari Grad, marking its great anniversary this year – 2.400 years, we tasted the superior Tomić Prosecco Hektorović and Hvar brandies from figs and carob. Among the brandies we especially notices Tomić’s aromatic Euforija – from carob and sage – which went perfectly with Hvar pepper biscuits.

Tomić’s Euforija is not a name aiming at the peak of pleasure but is composed of: EU (Europe), FOR (Hvar) and – ja (I) = Euforija, but it guarantees to produce – euphoria! The company continued in the Antica restaurant with a dinner that did not meet expectations, but the restaurant and food impression was improved by the crew of the youngest male boat, setting up a true gourmet barbecue on the waterfront of Stari Grad. After an entire evening of song and laughter and after only a few hours of sleep, we headed out to Vis. Brave travellers and sailors were accompanied by strong Jugo winds from the south and rain, but the female crew was already in tune and with the best skipper, there was no fear.

The Vis tour began with a tour of Lipanović winery, nestled since 1998 in the abandoned military tunnels above Vis town, formerly a power station. With a constant temperature of 16-17 Celsius, the space is ideal for a wine cellar, which is why the superior Plavac and Vugava are kept here, made by the renowned and great (in every sense of the word) winemaker Antonijo Lipanović. The tasting began with Opolo, a pink wine made from Plavac Mali, and continued with a wine from the Vis indigenous sort – Vugava. This was certainly the best Vis Vugava, a fine, aged wine with golden yellow colour dominated by subtle fruit, almond and orange peel scents. It has an excellent balance of acids and sweetness, with 14% alcohol, while the winemaker calls it a wine for celebration! Next came a Plavac Mali from 2013 – something truly special! Above all, Plavac sorts from Vis are the only ones of their kind to be grown and born in sand, making them special, with softer, rounded tannins giving them a softer taste, despite alcohols rising over 16%, they simply glide. Wonderful ruby red colour, strong and dense, full bodied with a wonderful fruit aroma with red berry fruit, the wine was a winner to all. And the taste… goes on and on… and stays with you.

But when the glasses were filled with a 2011 Plavac Mali, there was no end to excitement. It is a semi-sec wine with 12 grams of sugar which Antonio says comes from the later part of pressing grapes. Powerful body, full taste, smooth, soft tannins, well balanced, with discreet sweetness giving it charm and allure. We took a long time to savour its complexity. This complex wine has not yet made the market, but it will be heard of. The only problem with Lipanović wines is the fact he sells his 50.000 litre production completely on Vis. In any case, a visit to Vis would be incomplete without stopping at one of the best restaurants in Dalmatia, Pojedi u Kutu. Although the Vis tourism season has ended, the restaurant was pleasantly full, with the atmosphere picking up with the arrival of the sailing team. The meal began light with an array of seafood appetizers – especially octopus with broad bean and white fish with chickpeas. The main dish was a traditional brodetto, and Vis cookies for dessert. Musicians Mate Grgan and friends, also members of the rally crew, made sure the feast lasted until morning – something many will remember with love and nostalgia.

Stomorska on Šolta island was the last stop of the sailing rally, bathed in sun that warmed our faces and urged some to swim in the warm sea. But there wasn’t much time for sun tanning and bathing as the rest of the hedonistic schedule awaited. We toured the family farm Kapja and Bokun, belonging to the best known Šolta winemaker Vicko Kaštelanac. After a luxurious greeting that included sweet delicacies of Šolta and brandies from walnut, carob and grass, we had a meat dinner. Alongside a domestic beer, we tasted wines from Puritić and Kaštelanac: Pošip – white 2015, superior dry Purtić; Maraština – white, Kaštelanac; Dobričić 2015, Kaštelanac i Dobričić 2015, Purtić. Guests of the evening were winemaker Tomislav Purtić and Šolta mayor Nikola Cecić Karuzić. Both winemakers, Kaštelanac and Purtić, promote the Dobričić sort which is only available on Šolta. Some 7-8 years ago a project of Dobričić renewal was started, with the sort being the mother of Plavac Mali and the father being Crljenak or Tribidrag. The wine is full of tannins and somewhat bitter, often described as the “darkest” wine of Dalmatia. The dinner on Šolta ended with a grand finale, the rally winner announcement. We couldn’t believe it, but the crew of the Tessy Kiss, made up mostly of WOW girls and the best, most responsible, caring, patient and always smiling skipper Dražen Pomper, won first place! The victory was celebrated with Plavac wine from PZ Svirče with an unavoidable song – the hymn of the Plavac Mali association – “If I can Call you With a Song.”

The crew returned to Zagreb dazzled and full of impressions. It was an adventure leaving a mark for life, something that makes life more valuable. Until the next event, with thoughts of Jugo, waves, Plavac and a singing crew, never alone!

Irfana Bašić & Margita Belušić

For the original and more from Women on Wine, click here.


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