Lately, I’ve been having a lot of these first-winery-epic-greeting moments. Vicelić is a surname to engrave into this category without doubt. Honestly, I haven’t read or heard a lot about this guy up until my visit, but I must admit, eating tuna steak in a vineyard 200 metres above the Adriatic Sea is all the PR I need. A boutique winery humbly producing 20.000 bottles a year, Vicelić is the new kid on the block who you introduce to your friends, tell them you know your stuff, let him show his skills and BOOM, you have a reputation. Definitely a better love story than Twilight.

Mateo and his wife Lucija, together with their 3.5 hectares of vines, are the definition of blue-chip hosts. Along a rocky-limestone path, which is the main culprit for the greatness of Plavac Mali, we experienced a real rally ride to their open air tavern. For six hours we talked, laughed, ate and admired the magic of Pelješac, especially the pureness of the Adriatic Sea near midnight, when all goes numb, giving way for darkness to intoxicate every single pore in the body. You feel no burden, no racing thoughts. Just pure bliss cleansing the spirit.

Mateo Vicelić, owner and winemaker
Magic everywhere

Mateo’s family has been bottling Dingač since 1935 (when exported to Vienna and Prague), but due to many historic misfortunes, the winery had to wait until 2010 to make a grand comeback with Plavac Mali, Dingač and Rose Opolo. Berry Bros & Rudd, a leading distribution company in England and exclusive supplier of wine to the royal family, spread out the red carpet for Vicelić. Now, you can use that “I’m drinking the same wine that the Queen drank, it has to be good” phrase. Ha ha ha. No. Stop. If you really want to be important, read Decanter, Independent, Economist and Boston Globe, all of which gave praise to Mateo’s wine. He also gave praise to himself by saying that the 2011 was an outlandish vintage and I completely agree. His Dingač even ended up being my top cellar pick of 2016. Sorry, not sorry.

When you travel to large regions such as Veneto, Rioja or Bordeaux, you often hear the term „sea of uninteresting wines“. This is not because these places are famous for bland, undrinkable samples, it’s just that the worthy gems constantly struggle to shine because so much has been done for commercializing and selling truckloads of boring wine to the international market. Now on the complete contrary, we have the case of Dingač, a key position on Pelješac used for growing Plavac Mali. Here, if you don’t know how to make a top-quality wine, you deserve to be out of business. Simple as that. With the God-given terroir and grape variety, there’s really no room for bullshit in the cellars. Yes, marketing can be a whole different story, since not every winemaker (of the 40 approximately) can afford to reach the heights of international recognition, but look at the bright side – more alcohol for the locals!

Rosé Opolo 2015

Plavac Mali 100%. Deep salmon pink color, almost orange. Light aromas of roses, overripe strawberries (almost moldy), cherry and lime zest. Medium body with slightly unbalanced bitterness and acidity. Light alcohol (12,3%), medium aftertaste with a crisp acid(y) finish. Very laidback wine like the first day of vacation at the beach when you have no idea what you’re doing and your dog keeps pissing in people’s picnic baskets. I don’t like this rosé because of its overpowering bitterness, but I keep drinking it because of its refreshing acidity. Send help. 83/100

Plavac Mali 2013

Tuna carpaccio in soy sauce. Picture that on a warm September evening and this red wine in an ice bucket. Yes, you read it right. This Plavac deserves just that – a lightning bolt in the shape of a refreshing palate, expressive acidity and fresh fruit tones of sour cherry, ripe plum, blueberry and blackcurrant. Medium body, long finish, not overly complex. 87/100

Dingač 2013

The McDonalds of red wine – everybody loves it and everybody gladly comes back to it. “OH MY GOD, did you really compare the all-mighty Dingač to McDonalds, you sick bastard?!” Ok, I get it, you have feelings and orgasm every time you read Spurrier’s wine reviews, but for the love of everything holy, show a little humorous spirit and understand that this is has absolutely nothing to do with the toxic shit they serve at McDonalds. It’s fun and that’s that. Subtle aromas of black fruit, olives, Mediterranean herbs and blueberry compote. Dry, with a creamy texture and structured tannins followed by medium acidity. Deep structure, great complexity, going back and forth from primary and secondary notes on the palate. Huge butter bomb on the aftertaste, which last for an eternity. 93/100

Written by Aleksandar Draganić.

I’m a WSET certified grape juice drinker, and yes, I’m that 1% of people that love their job. I drink wine, write about it, preach about it, even take pictures of it. Find me at @grapenomad

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  1. Another fantastic and intelligent post! I missed this place when I was in Croatia. I was on a mission to visit Grgic Vina since our hometown (Napa) winery of Grgich Hills shares an owner. Next time I’ll spend a couple of days out there. The topography was amazing and the way the vines grow – seemingly unpruned and untended in the most inhospitable hills surrounded by rocks and scrub brush – wow! So different than manicured vineyards. My wife and I are starting to import Croatian wines to the US – there are some here but not enough. Probably will get started around late Q2 or early Q3. Here’s the website: – when we go live it’ll have a specific section for US. Already these wines are availabe in the EU.


    1. Thank you very much guys. You are so lucky to be in Napa, visiting those beautiful vineyards all day long and then coming to an equally beautiful Croatia to compare. I wish you the best of luck with your import, I’m certain it will be a major success!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Krešimir from Ivančić offered me my first taste of Vicelić. It was a Dingač 2013 and it was supposed to be the last-nightcap, one-for-the-road, just-take-one-sip-out-of-politeness-and-then-we-better-get-going kind of wine. Stellar wine; we ended up finishing the entire bottle and I felt ready for another round again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally understand that feeling. The Dingač is that kind of wine you open at a seaside sunset and just contemplate how beautiful existence on this Earth is while effortlessly drinking the whole the bottle.


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