Updated: Mar 2, 2019
First act: Nikica Katić welcomes us with a smile on his face according to an old tradition with excellent brandies, below the evergreen trees on top of Kutinska Slatina. The last act: after maybe ten or eleven glasses of varied wines, we decide to go all together to the Wine Court in Kutina to continue tasting Moslavina wine drops in further ten sequences. Everything between is a wonderful Moslavina gastronomic story in Klet Romić, which enchants with its rural beauty, especially with the families of Romić and Katić, who professionally look after each guest with the feeling of wonderful Moslavina food.
All this is the responsibility of Drago and Nada Romić, who came from Travnik to make a little paradise in Kutina’s hills for their family. Nikica's parents, Mato and Lela, assisted them in the hand-picking of vineyards, which was a family habit until lately when they bought a new vineyard tractor. With this appliance, Katić's vineyards produce six thousand litres of the best Moslavina wine. Helps is given both by sister Tena and waitress Anka, while the kitchen is a sovereign territory of grandma Nada.
She is an expert, as we have already found out by trying the chicken soup with meatballs. The beautiful soup returns to life everyone, and meatballs are the same as those we remember from childhood. Very nice introductions to Klet Romić were followed by a half-dry Škrlet for which Nikica tells us it is the King of Moslavina, who can then marry with the Queen of Croatia Graševina. Nikica knows what he says - as an oenologist, he often runs wine workshops throughout Croatia! His Škrlet was tried by many Croatian presidents, politicians and world stars, and he was visited by a Moroccan prince who was wearing crocodile leather shoes, which fell apart on the Moslavina ground. In Kutina, they were terrified of the idea of destroying valuable shoes, so the prince walked around in the most common slippers.
The surrounding area of Kutina is rich in vineyard houses – klet or kl’jet as it is said here, which can be found in its traditional oak tree shape, as well as in modern buildings such as Klet Romić itself. Klet is a significant part of everyday Moslavina wine region, which is a practical and symbolic centre of work and social life of people of this region. Klet also served as a repository of wine, working tools, barrels and grapes for the grape harvesting, storage of fruit, and often it was a sleeping place for a winemaker or an extraordinary visitor who drank a bit more. As in the past, today klet is the place of social life at any time of the year. Interior of Klet Romić is the real example of that. Long tables with narrowly arranged chairs, with old paintings and objects around, and especially the view of the vineyards, give a special feeling of pleasure and happiness to every guest. On the walls, we read the lyrics of drinking songs that were passed over generations, remembering who knows which old drunk event or happy anniversary celebrated by our ancestors. Such klets can be found all over the Wine Roads of Moslavina.
Today, many of them serve food, just like in Klet Romić. Among the finest meat options is a roasted duck with home-made mlinci, a favourite dish in klets throughout central Croatia. The soft dark meat and the beautiful mlinci melt in the mouth, and the meat plate featured also pork and Parisian steak, along with fresh vegetables from the family garden. Apart from ducks, Klet Romić is also known for its superb game, like the small one from the Moslavina Hill forest, as well as for the deer that inhabit the wetlands of Lonjsko polje. Wonderful food offer in Klet Romić also has its family history because Grandma Nada learned her own cookery at Petrokemija's restaurant, which has a legendary status throughout Moslavina. In addition to this, we are delighted with Her Majesty the queen of Croatian Wines Graševina with a beautiful scent of green apple. After Graševina we went to a Pinot White, macerated for six hours, beautiful wine with 13.5 per cent alcohol and almost no sugar, a product of western Moslavina vineyards.
Nikica is not a stranger to blends also. A special one is called Dragonada, according to the names of grandparents. This is a blend in which half of the wine makes Škrlet, while the rest are Pinot White, Traminac and Chardonnay, all the white wines of central Croatia and especially Moslavina. Before we started with the desert, we also tried Chardonnay 2016, a barrique wine of straw colour and honey in the smell and taste, where it is mixed with notes of hazelnut, vanilla and caramel.
For the sweet ending of the gastronomic journey through Klet Romić we got dumplings (knedle) with homemade plums sprinkled with cream. Like all other Moslavina dishes, sweet pies are rich and saturated as well as various strudels that can be obtained in Klet Romić. We are drinking Traminac from 2017, barriqued in the oak barrel. A wonderful wine with notes of roses in the smell and freshness in taste is the only that doesn’t come from grapes in the family vineyard. Nikica acquires it as a first-class grape from the vineyard of Kutjevo. We are excited by the effort and love of the wine in this family, and we wonder what secret success is. Nikica told us, "You work, work, learn, do 30-40 harvests and then you die.” Never enough of black humour, but we are deeply hopeful that it is the 30 best harvests!
After lunch, the best is to walk a bit, so we went a few metres further down to Katić's wine storage, which boasts with various wines from all over Croatia, but also the world. In the fresh atmosphere of the cellar, Nikica shows us bottle after bottle, each telling his story. Below the klet is a wine cellar with barrels, where the true wine-growing atmosphere of Moslavina is felt. Particular attention is given to acacia barrels where the Škrlet is kept. We are testing the Škrlet 2015 that has been macerated for 31 hours, and it still needs a year or so in the barrel to become a wonderful heritage of Moslavina.
There is a vineyard on the slope below the klet, where we find mostly Škkrlet, recognizable by the upper part resembling the ram’s head. In the late afternoon sun rays mildly touch the green leaves, as we come up with a Frankovka in the hand. This is one of the rare black varieties of wine on Moslavina Hill. Katić's Frankovka 2016 was stored for ten months in a French oak barrel, which is why it has a strong earthy taste and intense smell, but the berry flavours remain in the mouth. So, we sip this vigorous wine as we look to the vineyards and enjoy the silence from which one can go deaf.
A wonderful visit to Klet Romić is seasoned with excellent Moslavina wine, but also with the great hospitable heart of Nada and wine expert Nikica, which will surely be appreciated by every guest.
Mate Lovraka 43, Kutina Slatina
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Photos by: Andrea Seifert, Mint Media