Ahearne Vino Hvar, Croatia

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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.

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  • Ahearne Rosina Rosé 2017

    $ 67.00 incl. GST

    Named after Jo’s mother and made from the borderline extinct variety Darnekuša – only 1.5 ha in existence.  Its delicate flavours, light colour and low potential alcohol make it a perfect rosé variety, herentopping out at 11%, with texture and palate weight derived from bâtonnage.  The vineyard sits around 500 metres on a hill top, giving well ventilated and clean fruit.

    ‘Darne’ derives from a Turkish word, used to describe the moment between a wild party descends into a full on orgy.  Curious naming for such a fine and delicate grape!

  • Ahearne Pošip 2016

    $ 73.00 incl. GST

    The noble variety of Croatia, indigenous to Hvar’s neighbouring island Korčula.  Juice is hyperoxidized to remove bitter components pre fermentation, and the wine sees no oak.  There is no malolactic fermentation, and as per the rosé, texture and mouthfeel is built through bâtonnage.  The vineyard is picked in three tries, to bring in components of freshness and full ripeness, allowing the full flavour spectrum of Pošip to show between apricots and peaches, through to zesty limes – think Pinot Bianco meets Chardonnay with a dot of Viognier.

  • Ahearne Wild Skins White 2017

    $ 84.00 incl. GST

    From Bogdanuška (translates Gift from God), Kuć and Pošip.  The first two varieties are rather neutral in character, so Jo decided to experiment with extended maceration to build a deeper flavour profile.  A range of skin contact times are blended together here, from 10 days to a tiny portion which sees 340 days.  Additionally, based on the Champagne experience, additional components with extended lees contact are also included, most notably a tiny portion of the previous vintage wine which sees some 21 months on solids – this component bringing in some amazing non-oak derived toastiness.

  • Ahearne Plavac Mali South Side 2014

    $ 102.00 incl. GST

    ‘Son of Zinfandel’ – a Croatian native with a nod to its parentage.  A plentiful variety but quality parcels are scarce, due to the variety’s propensity to clump its bunches tightly and ripen unevenly.  Fruit comes from two sources, one right by the sea and another at some 500 metres elevation on an almost 45 degree slope, both of which benefit from refracted light from the Adriatic sea.  Oak is used sparingly, with one Slavonian barrel and the rest from Jupilles oak which is typically used for white Burgundy, lending high toned aromatic quality.