Laughter and sweet transgression in Croatia & Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

I’m back in my carless, (former) laptop-less, briefcase-less, UK passport-less home after a brilliant and cathartic few days in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina with Seva Duty Free.

Thank goodness for having dual citizenship, my New Zealand passport allowing me to make a trip I had desperately wanted to be on, despite the theft of my UK version. Nice in some ways to be a flying Kiwi again, not so nice to know why.

Seva Duty Free. Remember the name, you’ll be hearing it a lot more. On Thursday I attended the Grand Opening of the company’s first duty free store, a border shop in the town of Metković on the Croatian side of the Bosnia and Herzegovina crossing (click here for an extensive Picture Gallery). I promise you, it won’t be their last.

This was preceded by a tour of the company’s bonded warehouse in Ploče, a splendid 4,300sq facility that services not just the Balkans region but much of the world. A facility, like the whole Seva Group empire, that was crafted out of hardship and through overcoming challenges.

The house that Seva built: Seva Group Founder and Owner Severino (‘Seva’) Pusic stands proudly outside his company’s latest landmark development.
Seva Duty Free General Manager Nikolas Brkić spoke with pride and passion about the opening of the store.
Metković’s Deputy Mayor opens the store in time-honoured fashion.
Metković’s Deputy Mayor underlined both the extent of Seva Duty Free’s achievement and also the importance of such services to the local economy and tourism sector.
Magnificent Mostar: A breathtaking view from the Stari Most.

After witnessing the landmark opening of the store, it was on by mini-van to magnificent Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, home town of Seva Group Founder and Owner Severino (‘Seva’) Pusic. The city straddles the Neretva River and is famous (among other things) for the wonderful Stari Most (Old Bridge), a reconstructed medieval arched bridge.

That night Seva and his team hosted us in memorable style at  the company’s Rubis winery, a beautifully elegant and stylish facility outside the city. We drank their main two wines, Vionica (a red made from the popular regional grape Blatina), which won a Bronze Medal in the Decanter Wine Awards 2018; and a lovely peachy/tropical fruit white made from  Žilavka (the predominant white wine grape in the southern part of Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina).

We topped that delightful duo off with Rubis’s premium label, Veteribus Blatina Barrique Crveno Suho 2015. If you think that’s a mouthful, you ought to try the wine – a fabulously velvety, fruit-forward gentle giant.

Renowned Bosnian author Ivo Andrić once said, “Žilavka is full of laughter while Blatina is full of sweet transgression.” That probably explains the non-stop merriment of an enchanted evening and, hey, if we transgressed by knocking back a few too many glasses of red, it was indeed the sweetest of mistakes.

Žilavka: Full of laughter…

Just writing about it brings back the taste, and the warm memories of the evening. So much so, in fact, that I have decided to take the cork out of one of the bottles of Vionica I brought home. All in the interests of research of course. It’s a beautifully balanced, easy-drinking red, just 12.5% in alcohol. One writer describes the best wines made from Blatina as both strong and tender. That’s as good a combination in wine as it is in human character.

Look out for my full feature, coming soon, on Seva Duty Free and the remarkable man whose nickname gave birth to the company’s title. It’s such a story, I promise you. Over a glass or two of laughter and sweet transgression, I plan to tell it.

… and oh those sweet transgressions.
Veteribus Blatina Barrique Crveno Suho 2015: A fabulously velvety, fruit-forward gentle giant.