Jo Ahearne lives on Hvar Island. Her official data includes the address in Sveta Nedjelja on Hvar Island, with a Croatian contact phone. There is, thus, no reason not to consider Jo Ahearne a Croatian winemaker as well. Jo Ahearne earned her Master of Wine title nine years ago. Masters of Wine is an exclusive organisation with currently 369 members, 124 of them women, in 29 countries around the world. Most of them are Brits. To earn the Master of Wine title, one needs to pass three exams. The practical part entails a blind tasting of 36 wines, the theoretical part deals with wine production, wine business and “current issues,” while the essay needs to be at least ten thousand words long. The essay must be based on the original research of each candidate.
The Master of Wine title opens doors to top notch jobs in the wine industry. The English Jo Ahearne, who came to live on Hvar after many years of working in Australia, naturally became the biggest star of the Character Wines Day, held on Friday afternoon at the Vivat wine store in Folnegovićeva Street in Zagreb. Madam Ahearne, the only Master of Wine on the Croatian scene, presented her Hvar wines for the first time publicly in Vivat, soon to be available for purchase. This world premiere was memorable due to the excellent Pošip 2016 whose precise balance of oily texture, solid texture, optimal freshness and very strong, but unimposing concentration is dramatically different than most other Pošips. In principle, we do not prefer to go into more detailed descriptions of wines we tasted in mass events, along with many others, as it is hard to concentrate on them. But it does seem the Pošip sur lie by Madam Ahearne belongs among the most character Dalmatian white wines in general.
Besides the Pošip, we also tasted the macerated Bogdanuša, Kuč and Pošip cuvee. This coupage immediately settled among the best Croatian macerated white wines, and Madam Ahearne told us of the problems she had with Pošip during maceration. “The Pošip skin is very bitter, and I wanted to avoid bitterness in wine, so I saturated the Pošip with a lot of oxygen. The liquid suddenly turned dark, like chocolate, and then like mud. Each morning I observed the tank to see when the wine would clear up. And after a few days it gained a wonderful, clear green colour. Then I could breathe easier,” Jo Ahearne told us in one breath, whose wines could change the profile of the Dalmatian wine industry.
Besides Jo Ahearne’s, we also enjoyed the wines of Draga-Miklus, a winery from Collio, located near the estate of legendary Joško Gravner. Boris Ivančić has been importing bottles from Miklus for a while, and we were especially impressed by the rich, oily and still too young Ribolla 2012, with a truly huge potential for aging.
Vivat was also visited by some of the doyens of Croatian natural wines such as the Tomac family and representatives of the Roxanich winery, and Mitja Lo Duc, owner of the brilliant Steiermark winery Ducal. Vivat’s Character Wines Day attracted truly many visitors. This, we hope, proves it is high time that natural wines leave the underground scene in Croatia, and begin to take their places on wine charts of leading domestic restaurants.
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