A new partnership to firmly put Hvar wines on the international map. Meet the Master and the master.
After 12 years of frustration, bureaucracy and banging my head against a brick wall to achieve the simplest things in Croatia, a story of beauty in its simplicity. And one which will firmly put Hvar on the international wine map.
It all started with an offhand remark by a woman in a wine seminar in Split about the lack of vowels in some of the names of Croatian wines.
“Grk, for God’s sake,” moaned Jo Ahearne, one of only 300 Masters of Wine in the world. “How on earth are you supposed to pronounce that?”
“Talking of vowel-challenged wines, have you ever tried Prc from Hvar? Or any Hvar wines in fact?” I asked after we concluded an interview for Google News a few minutes later.
And so it began…
An impressive tasting of the available wines from Tomic, Caric, PZ Svirce, Vujnovic (he of the Prc) and Zlatan Otok at the Dalmacija Wine Expo in Split was followed by email contact and a visit to Hvar in July by Jo, who apart from being a Master of Wine (there are more astronauts than Masters of Wine in the world), is also a winemaker, and she has produced wine for some of the biggest names in Australia.
Jo seemed to have decided that Croatia would be a fun place to try and make wine, and she was impressed and excited by the quality and variety of the indigenous grape varieties in Croatia (see her interviewed at the Hvar Wine Association tasting in Vrboska recently in the video below). She came to visit in July, and I showed her a little of the island, including the oldest Plavac Mali vineyard in the world.
“Oo, wouldn’t it be cool to make wine from grapes of the oldest Plavac Mali vineyard in the world?” she cooed. We called the owner, and he was more than happy.
And while that may be a great PR project, the quantity of grapes is too small from that vineyard to make a serious quantity, and so Jo did the rounds of the Hvar Wine Association winemakers, introducing herself and exploring the possibilities of using facilities to produce her own wine from bought grapes this vintage.
The national media took an interest, and a big story on Jo’s plans on Hvar appeared this morning in leading magazine Globus, of which you can see an online intro here.
And at the end of a trip, an agreement, a partnership. Hvar’s iconic master of wine, and my first next door neighbour, the legend which is Andro Tomic, has agreed to work with Jo and allow her to use some of the facilities at the Bastijana winery in Jelsa to produce her wine.
Apart from the interest that will be generated for the Hvar wine story in the global wine community, what a tantalising prospect with their combined experience and energy. And once you have seen Jo and Andro conversing together in French, you have a feeling that this is just the start of one great chapter in the Hvar wine story.
To be continued…