Croatia Goes International – Phenomenal Wines From Croatia’s Only MW Qualified Winemaker
Hailing originally from East London, Jo Ahearne studied winemaking in Australia in the early 1990s at Charles Sturt University, working through Charles Melton, Pipers Brook, Leasingham, Tintara and Bailey’s, and considers her winemaking background firmly Australian. She returned to Europe in 2003 and worked in a multitude of roles, including as a winemaker for Marks and Spencer, seeing her making and blending wine from around the globe. She was awarded her Master of Wine in 2008, set up a consultancy business in 2012, and with the ultimate view to make her own wine, set her sights on the island of Hvar, Croatia, in 2014.
The focus here is on local varieties and minimal intervention winemaking – “the grapes do the talking,” as Jo says. Fruit is sourced from good local growers, with varieties unique to Hvar the focus – some 90 indigenous varieties are found here. These include the almost extinct Darnekuša for the rosé, Bogdanuša, Kuć and Pošip for the whites, and Plavac Mali for the red. All alcoholic and malolactic ferments are achieved naturally, and oak regimes are minimal and cautious, as are sulphur additions.
The resulting wines are quite something – transparent to place and variety, and perhaps belying the minimal handling philosophy, they feel clean, cohesive and extremely well put together. Add some striking labelling to the provenance and personality behind these wines – it’s easy to say that we’re immensely excited about welcoming these to our folio.