St . Vincent’s Day in Imotski

Thanks to wine cellar Grabovac near Imotski, St. Vincent’s has become one of the most important dates of a winter calendar for winemakers in this part of Dalmatia. It is celebrated on the 22nd of January and it is more connected with traditions of continental Croatia but, for the past 9 years, it has been celebrated in Imotski as well. So, after I got invited by Igor and Srđan of Klub Gurmana i Hedonista, Split, I decided to join them and finally go to Grabovac wine cellar that has been on my list for a while. After all, I am a big fan of entire Imotski region and their wines so it was about time…

Grabovac estate in Imotski
Grabovac estate in Imotski

We got there around Noon time and the stew was still cooking and it was cooking slowly as it was quite cold. The low temperatures prevented gas from flowing nicely so the chefs had a lot of trouble finishing everything. Next to them, grill was serving as a heater as well.

Cooking and warming up
Cooking and warming up

Basically, whole fuss is about a priest coming and blessing the start of the new season of works in vineyards and tasting young wine.

The priest arrives...
The priest arrives…
Tools of the trade
Tools of the trade

 

And then it is some ceremonial works in the vineyard before we get back to eating and drinking.

One in charge
One in charge

The food was ok. It did not really got cooked but who cared. We were there for wines.

And Grabovac has something to offer!

The selection at very affordable prices!
The selection at very affordable prices!

Once we got to the cellar, we had a chance to learn (and taste) more wines. Most of these are available in stores and restaurants but my personal opinion is that every restaurant in Dalmatia should have them on their list because they are quite modern and “playful” yet not pretentious or trying to be something they are not. Their most popular wines are “Modro Jezero” : couvee of merlot, trnjak (local wine), vranac and cabernet sauvignon – and sparkling wine “Grabovac”. This sparkling one is made of pinot grigio, chardonnay and sauvignon.  Traditional method is used.

Grabovac sparkling wine - still on the rack
Grabovac sparkling wine – still on the rack

Once we go deeper in the cellar, true treasures started coming out of barrels…

Main cellar bellow the ground
Main cellar bellow the ground

Just to name two that impressed me the most.

Prošek – sweet, dessert wine is true Dalmatian classic that is so hard to find these days in it’s original form. At Grabovac, they have a barrel or two of this nectar and it it is mind blowing! Although not done the authentic method of drying grapes on the net but they instead, leave it to dry completely on the vine, it is probably one of top 3 prošek I had.

Milan Grabovac giving us a tour
Milan Grabovac giving us a tour

Another one is their young blend Žilavka – Pošip. The one we tasted – 2012, the young one – was unbelievable! Very refreshing even at 0 degrees Celsius. If it stays like this, it will be the perfect summer wine and I can’t wait for summer heat to open a perfectly cooled bottle.

Grabovac wine cellar
Grabovac wine cellar

As we were leaving Imotski behind and climbing into the gray winter hillside, wines of Grabovac kept us warm. The idea of showing this treasures to travelers and wine lowers materialized and our new program” Wines of Dalmatia’s Hinterland” will be offered to travelers from this spring.

Vineyard of Grabovac
Vineyard of Grabovac

Combining Grabovac and my friend’s traditional kujunđuša with some traditional meals of the region is simply a winner for travelers looking to escape crowds and go off  the beaten path. So, I look forward to Spring visit, more photos and checking out that Žilavka – Pošip again.

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