Among the hills and valleys of the hinterland of Primošten, where the sounds of labourers and sheep were once high, now only the chirping of crickets and shouts from neighbouring villages can be heard. Nestled here is the Matošin winery, which nurtures the tradition of producing local wine varieties. Ivo Matošin exchanged the captain's bridge on world ships for the tranquility of the Primošten karst, with a view that surpasses the entrances to all the ports of the world. It is here that Babić, the indigenous wine of the Šibenik region, is cultivated with special care.
Finding the Matošin winery is not easy. We cannot rely on GPS, which initially led us in the opposite direction, ending up on a dead-end street in an abandoned village. Following the logic of "read the map, ask the villager," we soon come across a small road that leads from the village of Široke to the little paradise of Ivo Matošin. Along the way, well-preserved dry stone walls and a few olive groves line the path, but the absence of goats and sheep that would graze on the increasingly lush vegetation is noticeable. Following the signs, we turn onto a white road and finally reach the winery, which obtained its more modern appearance, cellar, and tasting room a few years ago.
The greatest reward for this effort is the view from the terrace of the tasting room. From a height of 260 meters, it stretches all the way to Grebaštica and Šibenik, across rocky valleys and winding villages nestled beneath Orlice and other unnamed peaks. As we contemplate the poetry that exists only in the perception of sight, Ivo Matošin presents us with the first wine, Rose 2021, with its beautiful pink colour and a slightly bitter taste. It was to this place that his grandfather Ivo returned in 1928, after previously being in America. He planted the first vines, so we find ourselves in an almost century-old vineyard. Our host describes how it was all a passion, while other jobs provided for the family.
Matošin employs old winemaking techniques. His wines are ecological, with minimal intervention, faithfully following the rural tradition of the Primošten region. As he says, "There is nothing in this wine except grapes!" These wines certainly have their audience, who seek precisely the original flavours, somewhat forgotten among wine connoisseurs. It is particularly praiseworthy to recognise the efforts and enthusiasm of Ivo Matošin, who works alone in the vineyard and cellar, with occasional assistance from his son and his wife, who visits from Šibenik, as well as a friend of his late father, Rosario. He produces between three and five thousand bottles annually. The labels aesthetically depict the land, sun, stone, and cluster.
Babić reigns over this beautiful vineyard that slopes downhill from the winery. Babić is an indigenous variety of black grapes mostly grown in Dalmatia, and the wines produced from Babić are dark, dense, delicious, and highly regarded. In Croatia, it is also known by other names such as Šibenčanac, Babica, Babičević, Roguljanac, and Pažanin, and the variety itself has two widespread variations – Babić Veliki (Babić Grand) and Babić Mali (Babić Small). There used to be terraces of Babić everywhere, and their traces can still be seen through the shrubs.
A yellow cat walks between the legs, which has also replaced Šibenik's asphalt with Primošten's karst. He is still getting used to the new environment a bit, while he eats the fresh bluefish that the owner has to bring him from the market in Primošten. He doesn't like white fish, like arbun, complains Ivo. Health above all, and a drop of olive oil from Oblica, a traditional Dalmatian variety, also contributes to this.
We tasted several vintages of Babić at Matošin's. The name Babić Zero 2018 reminds us that there is no filtering and that this wine is made from pure grapes, with minimal intervention in the cellar. This rich wine can regularly be found on the table with richer food. Babić has great maturing potential, so we were impressed by Babić Reserva 2016, with aromas of cherry and oak. It is full of flavour and has an impressive and lasting finish. Babić 2017 is a similarly strong wine that is still easy to drink and where the aromas of blueberries and cherries are pronounced.
Dalmatian prosciutto, cheese and olives are regularly served with wine, and Ivo Matošin will also prepare toasted bread, which is especially pleasing on such occasions. It is an expression of the traditional hospitality of the Primošten karst. Many wine enthusiasts come here, take pictures with the view and a glass of good Babić, and the effort is rewarded by the indigenous feelings of this landscape.
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