Finding Matković Plavac Mali
The Croatian postal system has this ‘fun’ tendency to put smaller towns in to a bigger town’s postal code. Well, actually, most of Europe does this. But, in the case of Matković who is the small village of Gruda, he is actually listed as being in Potomje. While incredibly close to one another, it makes finding him a nightmare for visitors new to the area. Thankfully, it turns out that if you ask three or so people to point you in the direction of his home and winery, you’ll eventually get there.
Petar Matković’s family has had quite a history of winemaking. He is the 14th generation winemaker in his family. Despite the fact that they started in 1536, he had to start from zero, 15 years ago. Yugoslavian Communism had dealt a crushing blow to his family’s ability to make their own wines, since everything was channeled in to the collective Dingač winery. But these days, he is producing about 18,000 bottles of his own and sells a good number of his grapes to the collective to maintain some stability in the business.
He only makes reds. His basic Plavac is a tricky wine. For instance, the 2003 has a strong alcoholic nose, yet has a lovely, smooth body and finish and the wine gets more dry, the more it breathes. As a contrast, the 2004 vintage is slightly less dry and has a good deal more fruit to it like a touch of apple, and blackberries. It is also a good deal deeper, approaching Dingač qualities.
Matković’s Dingač really shines. It has this great, soft nose on it that initially lends some plush qualities to the wine. There are deep tobacco elements to the aroma of the nose that carry in to the body with a nice, smooth finish to it. The fruits are considerably lighter in the wine and the oak comes out a bit more from being aged in a mix of French and Slavonian barrels.
It’s best to pick up Matković’s wine in the stores though as his cellar is his home and dropping in, like we did with our first visit can confront you with waking Petar up from his late day nap that is very much required after one has been working the Dingač slopes all day.
We talk a great deal more about other Croatian wine regions in our Dalmatian wine guide.