The final full day of the AdVintage 2016 wine tour saw us heading northwest from Trogir to the village of Plastovo, near the town of Skradin and the tourist magnet of the Krka National Park (which we visited immediately after the tasting).
Plastovo is on the boundary of Northern Dalmatia (Sjeverna Dalmacija) and the Dalmatian Interior (Dalmatinska Zagora), and the area was heavily damaged in the Croatian war of Independence that started in 1991, being within the self-proclaimed Republic of Serbian Krajina (RSK) that existed until 1995.
For wine it is more famous for the BIBICh winery, which has been exporting to the US for a few years. However, we were going to another family business also making wine for several generations at Vina Sladić, where brothers Juraj and Ante have taken over from their father Marinko.
It was Ante Sladić who presented the wines and spoke to us about them and the area, while we enjoyed the usual delicious snacks of local hard cheese, pršut wrapped around grissini and fresh tomato, before finishing with dark chocolate cake and some potent liqueur.
Sladić grows 15,000 vines of indigenous grapes Debit, Maraština, Plavina, and Lasina at 250-300m altitude. The vineyards are moderated by sea breezes and the nearby river Krka, giving cool nights which maintain acidity in the grapes.
Red grapes Plavina and Lasina are truly local, only grown in a 50km area; the white Debit used to be regarded as only fit for bulk plonk, but is now making some interesting wines when treated carefully. The story goes that the grape got its name when the Croatians used it to pay their tax deb(i)t to Napoleon during the region’s short inclusion in the first French Empire (1806-1812).
The wines (all unfiltered);
2013 Debit, 12% abv. This had a sweet floral nose with a hint of almond. On the palate it had a lovely dry approach, dry edges with a long smooth finish; very easy drinking and perfectly matched with the cheese (drizzled with olive oil and rosemary).
2015 Maraština, 14% abv. 24 hours skin maceration has given a ripe, textured and and full flavoured wine. There was a touch or pear-drop on the nose, a bit of grip on the palate and it carried the alcohol well.
2014 Cuveé, 12.5% abv. A blend of Plavina and Lasina matured for 12 months in barrique. The nose was lightly smoky with mint and tobacco. Served lightly chilled, this had good balance and was very refreshing; one of the best value wines of the trip for its 69 Kuna (about £8 with the reduced post-Brexit exchange rate).
2014 Lasina, 13% abv. Only 900 bottles of this are made each year from old-vines. There was a ripe, almost floral-sweet nose. and red fruit was dominant on the palate. This was a medium bodied wine with good balance of fruit and texture behind strong acidity, which should hold together well for another couple of years.
The beautiful sunshine and relaxed, friendly atmosphere of the tasting in the family courtyard was a perfect end to our formal wine-tasting tour – I felt as calm as the family cat, Messi!
Ante was another of the young generation of winemakers with the enthusiasm I saw in Milan Grabovac and Anton Kovač earlier in the week – the future of Dalmatian wine is in good hands!