Where and What to Sample?
Hvar wines are becoming slowly more popular both nationally and internationally, and the hard work of the Hvar Wine Association to raise the profile of its winemakers and brand Hvar as an island of wine is beginning to pay off. EU entry has opened export markets, and Hvar wines can now be found in several European countries, and as far away as Russia, China and California.
But what if you want to sample the wines themselves and visit the winemakers in person? Some producers are more organised and geared towards wine tourism on Hvar. Here are five of the best.
Andro Tomić in Jelsa. Arguably the most successful of Hvar's wine producers, the Tomić brand and Romanesque tasting rooms have become the most popular wine visit on Hvar. Educated in France, Tomić has a range of wines which include tradition varieties, as well as more international ones. His Beleca white is one of the most popular restaurant wines, while his meaty reds, Caplar, Veli Plavac Mali and Caplar (blended with Cabernet Sauvignon), are fine examples of Dalmatia's famous Plavac Mali red. Don't leave without trying his gorgeous Prošek dessert wine, rightly regarded as the best in the country.
Ivo Duboković in Jelsa. In contrast to the flamboyant Romanesque style of Tomić, Croatia's leading boutique winemaker, Ivo Duboković oozes a different class, with his superbly branded range of eleven wines, all faithful to the indigenous varieties of Hvar. A marketing professor by trade, Duboković has successfully combined his professional marketing skills with wine-making to produce some of the most sought-after wines in the country, and the intimate candlelit tasting in the basement of his family home is a memorable experience. Don't miss his selection of flavoured olive oils as part of that tasting.
Ivo Carić in Svirče. Considered the rising star of the Hvar wine scene, Ivo Carić was one of the first private winemakers on the island, and he works only with the island's local varieties. Working with wife Ivana, who is President of the Hvar Wine Association, Carić has enjoyed great success with his small range, and his Bogdanuša (which literally means 'a gift from God'), won silver at the BIWC Sofia fair in 2012, the first time this indigenous variety won an international award. The Ploški Plovac reds are considered some of the best examples of Plavac Mali in the country. Carić has their own shop in Stari Grad, and tastings can be made by appointment.
Svirče Cooperative (PZ Svirče). Forget any pre-conceptions you had about the notion of the poor quality Socialist cooperative – PZ Svirče has been bucking the trend for several years now. The first winery to have a certified organic Plavac Mali in Croatia in 2003, the winery's organic range has consistently won plaudits, with its Ivan Dolac Barrique winning organic gold at Biofach Mundus Vini in Germany for the last two years. Look out too for the very drinkable and affordable Plavac Hvar, and if you can get hold of a bottle of the white Pošip de Luxe, you will not regret it. Tastings are by appointment, or drop by the shop in the cooperative on the edge of Svirče, where you can choose from their considerable range, as well as buy leading brand spirits, such as Bombay Sapphire and Bacardi.
With a name like 'golden island', there ought to be a little quality about Zlatan Otok, and the big winery in the southern resort of Sveta Nedjelja has done much to raise the profile of the Hvar wine scene, with his Plavac Mali Grand Cru in particular winning constant international acclaim. His Posip was also voted best white wine in the region by Decanter, and a visit to the winery will take you to his unusual wine cellar below the sea.
*Author - Paul Bradbury
*Photo Credit - Romulić & Stojčić multimedia studio