MATO VIOLIC MATUSKO, DALMATIA, CROATIA

Wine Road, Wine Trail, La strada Del vino, Rue de Vin, Weinstrasse … On whichever from domestic or foreign languages spoken or read this geographical term warm our hearts around. And winding roads that squirming among the picturesque hills planted with vines, usually long thirty, forty kilometers (although there are notable exceptions like those Alsatian long, imagine, even 170 km!) Irresistibly attract weekend tasters, especially during the “Day of Open Cellars”.

Not to run after money, career, fame, women, men, pets, virtual orgasms and who knows what else my ritual visit of one of them roads should begin early Thursday afternoon, and last all the way to next Tuesday, Wednesday evening (in a shortened version). Pitiful would be, in fact, towards hospitable host s after drinking and hope not spitting any sips from all ten samples of his precious fluid, the creation in which was invested unimaginable effort and love, in which he and his ancestors had often invested their entire family fortune and his destiny! By the way, often u start chatting with the owner of the winery, or any of the members of his family, about the global crisis, the Champions League, the shortage of grouper in the Adriatic, nostalgically recall the good old days, sometimes a neighbor bumps in, also a winemaker (winemakers are mostly friends and like each other) and from somewhere on the table with a glass of wine and some cheese bread and a drop of olive oil, a bit of Kulen (salami) or salted herring, which, depending on the region … and often a song! Good thing is that upstairs is an old-furnished room, which after so intensely spend afternoons and evenings in the early hours impose as the only possible solution for refreshments. And you found the time pass so quickly, and imagine, it’s only the third of seventeen callers that you ambitiously meant you visit! I say to you, staying up until Wednesday won’t be enough!

Let us have a little predisposition. For us is one of the above wine roads in our beautiful country dearest than others. Former Napoleonic road on our second-largest peninsula. Peljesac Wine Trail.

Certainly respectable wine list you’ll find there, and premium grapes of exceptional quality, has made it a cult place, this wine yearlong pilgrimage, not only for us Croats. Let’s mention a few great winemakers from Peljesac (hopefully they will not mind us doing that) Grgic, Milos, Mrgudić, Matuško, Putnikovic, Kiridzija, Madirazza, Skaramuča, Bartolovic … What an aristocracy of winemakers! Of course, their “common denominator” is Plavac mali. It is well known that wine made from grapes of Plavac mali grown on peninsula on the southern slopes of the ten-kilometer-long stretch sometimes with the inclination of 60 degrees, stretched in hundreds of acres of vineyards, called Dingač! His Majesty DINGAČ!
About phenomenon known as Dingač we talk to our dear host Mate Matuškova an enologist who has his own private winery founded in 1998. Dingač is in the veins but also in the genes. For centuries, his ancestors with blisters and sweat on this sunny (2600 hours of sunshine a year), southern slopes of the Peljesac created pathways to success that he now walks on confidently. We were In Potomje capital of Dingač, in front of his new winery. The glasses on the table in front of us are filed with the fluid which is in Dalmatia for centuries often called: Blood of the earth. It’s nectar. Divine. Sipping slowly sip by sip (of course we first smelled all these fruity, floral and alien flavors and aromas), and so that this Matuško’s “Superior” at every sip more “open up”, enriches, refines. This is one of the best wines we’ve ever tasted, and believe me, we are not inexperienced.

We ask Mate why Dingač from Peljesac is so distinctive and special, and even since 1961. protected by the Geneva Convention, and since 1965. the first Croatian wine protected by the law of then known state. And imagine that precise answer we almost did not get. There are similar, nearly identic positions in almost all southern Adriatic islands and even on the coast, soil composition is almost the same, and people are similar, thus everything that involves the concept of “terroir” they have in common. Yet Dingač is one and unique. Maybe it’s just the fact that the wine on the peninsula began to produce much earlier than on neighboring islands to some extent is the answer to our question.
In Matuško’s winery along with Croats, Russians, Japanese and Americans, visitors of Dubrovnik orboaters, are quite usual guests. Even Turks usually after Ramadan.
Mato praised this year’s harvest and other winemakers would agree with him. In his long career for a long time grapes were not that good. Then suddenly gets up and brings us out of the caller another two full glasses. In one, a young “Superior” and the other “Royal”. We smelled and tasted them. No matter what I tell you. It’s insanity! “Superior” is a novelty in his collection, a bottle of wine in his cellar which costs 700 kuna. We can only guess how many bottles of that wine cost in one of the restaurants. The Flower of Dingac. And for that wine there is a waiting list, like for the Dingač Bura of Mrgudić family. These two families are indeed close relatives as well.

Mato Matuško looks like a man from those old Marlboro commercials in American magazines. A charmer. This cowboy from Peljesac sits on a white Harley Davidson to show us his restaurant on the southern slope of the peninsula. We followed him through a narrow, dark tunnel, which is, of course, called Dingač. Through the tunnel you drive by a simple principle; your transportations stops at the entrance to the tunnel, so if the vehicle on the other side of the tunnel entered before, you wait until the tunnel is free. For those who (of course, meaningless) rush through life still have several lay-bays in the tunnel. And, unlike the endless tunnel of Croatian politics, in the tunnel Dingač you see the light at the end.
And there we were already on the beautiful terrace of a small family tavern-restaurant, overlooking the legendary vineyards, above one of the most beautiful beaches of Peljesac, offering a breathtaking view of the sea, MljetLastovo and nearby Korcula.
Yet for all of us the joy on the table in front of us is most impressive. Seafood delicacies accompanied by Matuško’s olive oil, and “Superior” bottle of wine. If you hurry up you might still find us there. Cheers!

Author: Voljen Grbac for Pearls of Croatia

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