Croatia’s wine region of Dalmatia presented a group of journalists from seven European states and the USA with its richness of indigenous wine varieties. Pošip, Kuča, Maraština, Babić, Plavina, and Plavac Mali, are just a part of what was to be tried and tested. In the vineyards of the Saints Hills winery, at the Dingač wine growing region on the Pelješac Peninsula, Antonija Car from the winery introduced and explained to the visitors what goes into creating a bottle of a Plavac Mali wine from Dingač. The steep hills of the Dingač wine region never seized to create the renowned and most esteemed wines of the small shrub-like vines, because of the winemakers, whose firm faith and a strong belief in the quality of the wine, never quitting on growing and producing wine. A guided tour of the winery and cellars was led by Antonija, who pointed out the very important family values that are found in the work of the winery and the wines. The founder and owner of the Saints Hills winery, Ernest Tolj, has dedicated all his vineyards (and therefore, all his wines)  along with his olive oil, to his children Lucia, Roko, and Ante. They are named after the saints, and the vineyards are named after them. The youngest, Lorena, is the proud carrier of the name of Istrian olive oil the winery produces. The most impressive lunch was served and can serve as a prime example of the most successful food and wine pairing example. A menu that is smart carries no excessive or over-the-top elements, and as that is the greatest example of how Croatian gastronomy does have a place in high-end gastronomy. Saffron Arancini with foie gras and prosciutto with young cheese was served with Posh (2017), Tuna Tartar with fresh cheese mayonnaise and a cuttlefish cracker was served with Nevina (2016), and Calf’s cheek cooked in pašticada style with home-made gnocchi was served with Sv. Roko (2016). Desert was served in the shade of the lower terrace where Raspberry sorbet with chocolate-mousse pralines was paired with the Dingač. They worked together to bring out the most out of each other, concluding the Saints Hills winery and restaurant at the beautiful Pelješac Peninsula. The late afternoon arrival to Dubrovnik began with a stroll through the city center, and the dinner that followed rounded up the five-day journey. The professionalism and kindness of the staff at restaurant Sesame presented a five-course menu that was accompanied with Saints Hills wines. Adriatic tuna carpaccio on a creamy bed of avocado and mustard, Home-made ravioli with lobster in oyster bisque, oyster soup, File of branzino in a herbal crust with a sous-vide in olive oil blue potato,  and steamed vegetables let to a winning dessert of Mascarpone mousse with an orange center. Rafael Marić from the winery Saints Hills treated the guests to a wine that was worth the wait, and worth the whole journey – ET, the very rare Dingač from 2008 with the signature of Ernest Tolj certainly was a way to go out with a bang.

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