One of my biggest island discoveries since starting to write about the island almost five years ago is the quality and diversity of the wine.
Until I started researching the first edition of the guidebook, I had never really bothered with the wine, as the table wine offered in restaurants was nothing special. But with a little research, I realised what I had been missing..
The formation of the Hvar Wine Association in 2010 has given the winemakers of the island a little focus, and it has been a pleasure seeing them build a brand and slowly get the message out about the quality of their offering. With such a range of indigenous grape varieties, several which only grow on Hvar, and various micro-climates and terroirs, Hvar is a fabulous wine destination, which is slowly building its wine tourism, as it increases its wine exports, now as far away as California and China. Wineries such as Tomic, Dubokovic, Huljic, Caric, PZ Svirce and Zlatan Otok offer fabulous and very diverse wine tasting experiences, with wines of truly international acclaim, such as the Zlatan Posip which won Decanter Gold in London, or the PZ Svirce Ivan Dolac Barrique, which has won organic gold at Biofach Mundus Vini in Germany two years in a row.
But where to get an overiew of all this Hvar wine goodness in one place?
The opening of Artichoke Wine Bar and restaurant in Jelsa provided something of a revolution to the wine scene in central Hvar. Here, on the waterfront in the middle of the old town arrived a quality restaurant offering a very wide selection of Hvar wines... by the glass. Finally there was a place open all day, where one could eat well and really explore the wine scene, a glass at a time.
The Artichoke list of Hvar wines offers a truly excellent range of the quality and diversity of Hvar winemakers' finest produce. Most, but not all, wines are available by the glass. There are too many to mention here, but here are a few worth trying:
Rose - the word on the street is that the Tomic 2015 Opolo Nobile is the best vintage from Andro Tomic yet. Another not to miss is Ivo Dubokovic's No.11, a great name for a wine which made up his football team of wine labels.
The whites have a great flavour of Hvar's white indigenous goodness. Don't miss the Caric Bogdanusa, the first of this Hvar indigenous variety to win a medal in international competition and now for sale in California, the vowel-starved prc from Vujnovic from Sucuraj, the Huljic Kap Sunce, or two great whites from Tomic, his new 2015 Posip and my favourite Hvar white, Beleca. The Zlatan Otok Posip has also won much international acclaim.
Reds - plavac mali here is the king, and some of the best reds at the entry level include Caric Jubo'v, Tomic Plavac and Vujnovic Plame, as well as sunshine in a bottle, the Dubokovic 2718, named after the average hours of sunshine Hvar enjoy each year. The meatier read include one of Croatia's best known red wines, the Zlatan Otok Grand Cru, as well as one of the most prized reds in the top restaurants of Zagreb, the Medvid from Dubokovic and Barbic, the latter producing becoming Croatia's first ever Master of Wine this year.
And where to finish but with what is reckoned to be the best prosek dessert wine in the country, the Tomic Hektorovich.
A fabulous collection to chose from to accompany your Artichoke lunch. And these are just the highlights.
To learn more about Artichoke, follow them on Facebook, or check out the opening party in the video below.