If a curious person were to head to the hinterland of Skradin or take a drive, like us, through places with magical names such as Gaćelezi, Čista Mala, Piramatovci, they would certainly not expect to come across three top wineries in one village. That path brought us to Plastovo and Ante Sladić's winery, which recently won the gold award at the prestigious Decanter. At the very edge of the Krka National Park, in a landscape of stunning natural beauty, Ante Sladić is making world-renowned wine feats. It was time to visit him!
Each wine story gives a little personality, a little atmosphere, and a good sip. At Ante Sladić, all of this exists, but it is upgraded with native feelings woven into each label. The stone courtyard in Plastovo expects many guests who are delighted with the guided tasting. In that beautiful environment, Marinko Sladić started making wine, and his son Ante took over and brought his passion and expertise as an agronomist and oenologist. Old and rustic agricultural tools are visible on all sides, and the climate is exploited in a sustainable way, whereby single-varietal wines are produced in the cellar, including some that will not be found often in other wineries.
Hills above Skradin has a unique microclimate. At an altitude of 250 metres, the climate of the Krka River and the influence of the Adriatic Sea meet, with fresh nights and sunny days, a lot of limestone that gives minerality to the wines, and all in an apparently austere and karst land. We visited the latest plantings of the vineyard, which is a real feat of engineering, because it had to be dug deep to ensure enough water for the vines. All for a superior product that is greatly enjoyed!
For Debit 2022, Ante Sladić received Decanter's gold. The winemaker smiles modestly behind his thick beard, but he must rightly be proud of this wine, which is produced in locations north of Skradin, above the Krka River. Debit is the primordial wine of the Skradin region, a fresh, drinkable, dry wine with citrus aromas, and Ante says that it shows the combination of sea and stone. The French and Italians drank it by the hectolitre, including Marshal Marmont, who was led by historical and political luck to be the governor of Dalmatia on behalf of Napoleon. Debit was so valued that it was also a means of payment, hence the name. All of Ante Sladić's wines have beautiful labels by designer Damir Bralić, and Debit is decorated with an old map of Šibenik's Zagora, all those places that are mentioned in the legendary song of even more iconic artist Arsen Dedić, "Last Tango in Đevrske".
Đevrske is really not far, but next to Plastovo is Rupe, the village where Arsen's mother was born. He doesn't mention Plastovo, which is perhaps a jealously guarded secret of the popular singer-songwriter, because it's a real pleasure to sit under the big brunches and take breaks between sips of wine with excellent homemade prosciutto, cheese and olives. Everywhere we can see the sign of ancient tongs, with which the stem was once squeezed and thus the flow of juices was cut off. Clever Dalmatian winegrowers thereby reduced the quantity but obtained top quality.
At Ante Sladić's, you must try Opol from Lasina, because few people make wine only from this variety. Lasina has a thin skin that enables a long maceration of 24 hours, and this is exactly what makes this wine special. Floral and fruity aromas conceal a fresh, mineral, elegant and fluffy wine. The variety is also called black rose in Dalmatia, and this elegance led the Sladić family to another well-known song by Arsen (yes, we listened to it the whole way in the car), "Djevojka iz moga kraja". Fans know that it is about a girl who traveled by train from Perković via Knin, so she is immortalized in the dedication with a label with a track.
In the line of elegant and fresh wines, there is also Plavina, the cousin of Babić and Plavac Mali and the son of Tribidrag. This blue gem is another phenomenal wine from Sladić's cellar, where it is aged in Slavonian oak barrels for 12 months. Fruity, spicy, elegant, fresh and juicy wine is a true Dalmatian character, strong and mild at the same time. The blue river, as it is called, reminds of the trajectories of another sea creature, the one from the shark family that flows happily through the Zadar and Šibenik archipelagos, so the label of Plavina provides a portrait of one such predator and a map of beautiful islands.
More and more people are coming to Ante Sladić's court. When we arrived, we encountered a cheerful group of women, but the days of open cellars in Šibenik-Knin County bring busloads of thirsty visitors, who by the end of the day have surely tried a lot of things. Therefore, we turn to a line of wines from Plastovo itself, where the mild Mediterranean climate permeates with cold nights. In the fields, the cultural landscape of Krka, the pride of the hinterland of Skradin and Šibenik, is cherished, and in the distance the stone wall of Dinara, which marks the mighty end of the Dalmatian climate, can barely be seen.
We start with Lasina in all its fullness. Dalmatian Pinot Noir is demanding and gives small yields. It is no wonder that many farmers have abandoned it, but when it is refined in older oak barrels, a wine with a unique aroma is obtained, elegant, seductive, complex, delicious, fruity and floral. It has great aging potential and we hope that Ante Sladić will hide a few bottles before passionate wine lovers in search of original flavours get their hands on them. Lasina is the "flower of longing", and that's why the bright flower of Dalmatia was on the label, together with the visions of Skradin and the famous priest.
Skradin hinterland is unimaginable without Maraština. Macerated for 24 hours, Ante Sladić's Maraština is refined with fine lees and Slavonian oak barrels, which gives a complex, serious wine with a strong body, but with the freshness of the limestone soil. Of course, this wonderful wine was also popular in the Šibenik area, but it could also be bought in pharmacies without any problems. Namely, the local people saw a medicine in Maraština, so doctors also prescribed it. People knew how to keep it for over 20 years, "as a medicine". Therefore, the Šibenik cathedral, Faust Vrančić's parashoot, Krešimir's town itself and Asclepius rod are on the label.
Along with all these tastings, it is inevitable to pour bread in olive oil. The cultivation of these olives is exclusively organic, and the peculiarity of the climate gives rich and intense oils. There are two on offer. Extra virgin olive oil from Oblica is known throughout Dalmatia and goes well with almost all dishes. But oil from the Krvavica variety is a specialty of the Skradin region. The yields are small, but the quality of this intense oil is high, and we really enjoyed it. It is bitter and spicy, perhaps too much for everyone's taste, but it is primordial and a true delight in olive growing! It is an excellent variety for the marginal areas of olive growing and in colder regions and certainly has a bright future with a little effort.
Finally, the singing team leaves, and before visiting the current souvenir shop, we enjoy a few more drops of liquor. Ante Sladić makes two liqueurs based on grapevines and wild and autochthonous herbs in the vicinity of Plastovo. Black rose is a grape liqueur enriched with Lasina red wine and fruits from the Šibenik hinterland. It contained Marasca cherries, wild fruits of dogwood, thorn, hawthorn and blackberry. The black rose, of course, marks Lasina, and the light and sweet liqueur has a rich and lasting taste. For a slightly stronger end, there is Likarija, a liqueur made from grapes refined with Maraština and the fruits of chestnut, fig, almond, jujube, juniper, carob, and then there are the herbs rosemary, sage, wormwood, fennel, immortelle, lavender, mint and honey. All this is very healthy, hence the name Likarija!
Every budding connoisseur of Dalmatian wines will have to face us from now on if they haven't gone to Ante Sladić. A beautiful story in one of the most beautiful parts of our southern region deserves selected guests who will enjoy it impeccably.
OPG Ante Sladić
Plastovo, Sladići 29, 22222 Skradin,
+385 95 382 2036