A Winemaker in Jelsa
Hvar has a vibrant winemaking scene, with several grapes indigenous to the island, and the island's eclectic group of winemakers have a varied approach to their local grape varieties. Some, like Ivo Caric and Dubokovic, concentrate solely on the indigenous varieties, and both produce an excellent range of wines which are a truly delightful tasting experience. Others, like Andro Tomic have a mix of the two, and indigenous and international can comine to make a truly exceptional wine, such as his premium Caplar, which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Plavac Mali.
And then there is one smaller, less well-known winemaker, who is doing some rather interesting things in the back streets of the old town of Jelsa.
Teo Huljic is a much smaller producer than the bigger names on Hvar, producing roughly 6-7,000 bottles a year, but his range of wines and keenness for experimentation in the small konoba next to his excellent slow food retaurant which bears his name, has resulted in some exceptional and unique wines.
Passionate about the island and its indigenous varities, Huljic has an excellent range, particularly of whites, either single varietal or cuvees, with the main white varieties being Bogdanusa, Prc and Posip. This year he also managed to produce what we believe is the only wine of its sort - a 100% Mekuja, a white wine variety grown solely on Hvar, and one which has all but died out. Huljic managed to get his hands on some grapes and produced a very limited quantity of just 350 bottles. Make that 349, for the one we shared was delicious, and for true wine connoiseurs, a tasting experience with the accompanying restaurant experience is not to be missed.
What makes Huljic all the more interesting, however, is his willingness to experiment with international varieties as well. Having successfully planted Merlot (still young, but it is going to be fantastic), he is now the first to plant Chardonnay on Hvar, and his plan is to produce an oak aged blend of Posip, Prc and Chardonnay. It will not be available for a few years, but it is just one more small chapter in the fascinating 2,400 year Hvar wine story.
When you visit the island this summer, ask your waiter about the local wines on the menu. Hvar wines are now exported all over the world, from China to California, and there are plenty of unique wines to try, just one more thing which makes Hvar Croatia's premier island.
*Author - Paul Bradbury
*Photo Credit - Rafael Janic Photography