Why International Wine Experts are Heading to Dalmatian Islands

Total Croatia News

August 4, 2019 – The exciting indigenous grapes on Dalmatia’s islands are attracting increasing international interest. Great piece by Kate Hawkings in The Buyer on a visit to Korcula.

When I moved to Hvar in 2003, I had no idea it was a wine island or that, in fact, I had bought a house in the Dalmatian wine capital, Jelsa. I carried on in innocent ignorance for about 7 years until I started researching for the first edition of my guidebook, Hvar: An Insider’s Guide. 

And then I became fascinated. Not only did Hvar have some excellent winemakers, but the grapes themselves made the Hvar wine story even more interesting. It is said that there are 130 indigenous varieties all over Croatia, and I had no idea that Hvar was so rich in them. 

The most famous is Bogdanusa, literally a ‘gift from God’, but there is also Prc and Darnekusa. I want to say Kuc as well, although from memory this exists elsewhere under a different name.

And then the longer I stayed, the more I discovered, most notably with Jelsa winemaker Teo Huljic, who introduced me to the Mekuja grape (he is the only one to make a 100% Mekuja, just 600 bottles). The following year, he opened one of only 70 bottles of Palarusa, an almost forgotten grape that even some Hvar winemakers had never heard of. Kortolaska is another rare variety only found on Hvar. 

The more I looked, the more impressed I became. the islands of Croatia seemed to excel in indigenous varieties – you can learn more about them in Indigenous Wine Varieties on Croatian Islands.

And international wine experts are taking an increasing interest. The most high-profile of these, of course, is Jo Ahearne MW, the first Master of Wine to make wine in Croatia, much of it from Hvar’s indigenous varieties. 

Jo was featured in a great in-depth piece largely set on Korcula by Kate Hawkins in The Buyer. 

Read on to find out why the international wine community is getting excited

Learn more about the wines of Croatia in the Total Croatia Wine guide.


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