A quiet revolution is taking place in the heart of wine country on Hvar – and I like it…
Simply quite extraordinary.
Of all the things I have discovered on Hvar in the last two years, I am not sure anything can beat this.
A dormouse festival, the only island with three UNESCO heritages, one of the world’s oldest olive trees, 25,000 refugees evacuated to the desert in Egypt – these are all great finds and great stories, but they don’t compare to my wine discovery of the year this week.
The discovery is a wine revolution taking place very quietly in Vrbanj, a revolution which is 55 days old and includes two exciting young winemakers, one of whom has come all the way from Argentina, back to the island her great great grandmother left in 1906.
I have the newly-formed International Club Hvar to thank for my introduction to Florencia Gomez, a 24 year-old oenologist from Mendoza, via the vineyards of Napa Valley, whose Rudina heritage is betrayed by the family surname of Dulčić. We met at the Scottish breakfast in Vrbanj the other day, and discussions about wine resulted in an invitation for dinner with her boss at Nono in Jelsa last night.
That was a fascinating meeting, which in itself resulted in a quite intriguing invitation – to come to Vrbanj this morning to try the 2013 vintage of Bogdanusa at the Plančić winery – a grape variety only grown on Hvar, and produced for the first time by an Argentine.
What can I say? It has been a sensational day of discovery, or excitement and of planning for the future for the new management team at Plancic in Vrbanj. Just 55 days into the job, with the small matter of the annual harvest to negotiate in the interim, I am still trying to catch my breath from learning of the new developments and future plans.
All I can say after an afternoon with Florencia and fellow winemaker Ivan Protega – fresh from his gold-medal winning performance from the vineyards of Vis at Sabatina 2013 – is that the future of Hvar wine just got better.
An invitation to come and meet the team and try the wines was reason enough for a Total Hvar family excursion to the Plančić winery this morning, where Florencia entertained the kids with some Argentine magic, while impressing the older wine drinkers with magic of a different kind – the first taste of an extraordinarily fruity Bogdanuša 2013.
Bogdanuša, which literally translates as ‘a gift from God’ is only grown on Hvar, and it is a wine that causes much debate among winemakers. Although not a wine expert by any means, there are two camps of bogdanuša theory – one is that is should be kept for some time, the other that it is an early drinking wine.
Ivo Carić believes that bogdanuša is an early-drinking summer wine, and the success of his bogdanuša in 2013 would seem to bear this out – silver medal in Bulgaria, export to California and cited by famous British blogger Jamie Goode.
Having tried the bottled 2010 bogdanuša, it was time for a glass of the 2013 straight from the tank. The difference in fruit and taste, even for a wine so young, was marked. These young winemakers seem to know what they are doing…
Watch this space. There are some exciting things happening in Vrbanj, with some even more exciting plans to move the Plančić winery forward. Young Argentine winemakers are just the start. If I was enthusiastic about the future of Hvar wines at the beginning of the day, I am even more so now.