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Bogdanuša - The Heart and Soul of Hvar Island

Wines of Dalmatia

Written on 06-07-2016 by Dusan Jelic, Hvar, Dalmatia, Croatia

6 wines tasted during the masterclass about Bogdanuša - an indigenous variety from Hvar island of Dalmatia

Bogdanuša - The Heart and Soul of Hvar Island

Hvar island is one of the shiniest jewels in the Dalmatian crown! A charming island along the coastline of Dalmatia covers approximately 500 square kilometers. It is 50 km long and around 10 km wide stretch of land. The island has a few distinct areas each famous for their own unique reasons.

The closest to the mainland is an enchanting small village of Sućuraj. Vjekoslav Vujnović is a local winemaker who produces excellent Plavac Mali, Prč (Parč) and other wines. Starigrad (Old City) is a part of the island that once enjoyed primacy and was a key point for anyone arriving or departing Hvar. Old stone buildings, well-preserved Middle Age infrastructure, monument to Petar Hektorović and an unmistakable Mediterranean feel are the initial images that overwhelm a visitor. A couple of good restaurants, cafes and wine shops create an overall impression of a small hedonistic paradise with a strong historical interference. The city of Hvar became a focus point for almost all well-to-do visitors. Its charm is emphasized with an old Spanish fortress overlooking the city and a string of smart and sophisticated eateries and other places of entertainment. Add to this a harbor with state-of-the-art yachts, near-by islets and plenty of outdoor facilities and a picture of a cool Mediterranean hub and playground for rich and famous is almost complete. Finally there is a lovely city of Jelsa, facing near-by island of Brač which is predominantly attractive for families and guests from the region and the Central and Eastern Europe, with is newly refurbished promenade ('riva') and awesome beaches.

There is a common golden thread that connects all these parts of the island. That is a Mediterranean diet, namely food and wine! Wine is an essential part of the Dalmatian lifestyle, and as such plays a central role in every-day life. Many tourists, visitors, wine aficionados traveled here, discovered great wines and returned many times, as the author of these lines. The undisputed king of Dalmatian and Hvar reds is Plavac Mali. Full-bodied, characterized by high alcohols, with powerful extracts, often enhanced with kisses of oak barrels, this is a type of wine for any serious food lovers. Red meat, game, mature cheeses, fish, powerful desserts... all go very well with Plavac Mali. Apart from this variety, Hvar also has some plantings of international red varieties and a few local ones like Darnekuša, which is at times added to Plavac due to a great acidity.

Pošip is the most revered white indigenous variety in Dalmatia, originating from Korčula island. Full-bodied, powerful, memorable wines with a salty mineral touches of the Adriatic Sea and Mediterranean herbs - it is a perfect choice for winter cold days. However, summer time, when living is so easy requires something lighter, softer, yet with great acidity, minerality and low alcohol.

This is now where Bogdanuša kicks in! This is a variety perfectly created for a warm, long and sunny Dalmatian summers! It can be enjoyed on its own, or as an accompaniment to white fish, sushi, fruit salads or risottos with lighter sauces...

That is why an agile and hard-working president of Hvar Winemaker Association Ivana Krstulović-Carić decided to help in promotion of Bogdanuša - the autochtonous white variety from Hvar. Bogdanuša is a complex word consisting of 'Bog' - meaning 'God' and a form of a verb 'to give', so we can safely translate it as 'God-given'. On July 4, 2016 at the premises of PZ Svirče, a well-known winery from Hvar, we attended a superb masterclass dedicated to Bogdanuša and led by Alen Gulan - extremely passionate, knowledgeable and eloquent speaker from 'Vino u Sridu', who presented the masterclass!


What kind of wine we may expect from the Bogdanuša variety?

Primarily fresh, light and easy-going wine with a good acidity. At the masterclass we tasted six wines including two blends where Bogdanuša played an important part. Here are my tasting notes for these 6 wines.

PZ Svirče Bogdanuša 2015

Light straw color, fresh wine with a pleasant acidity. I sensed some quince and green apple on the nose. Very inviting,well-balanced and harmonious wine. One can feel a scent of lovely Mediterranean herbs, present in many Dalmatian whites. Medium-bodied and alcohol is only 11%. Long ending of citruses. A very good light white wine for every-day drinking. Not suitable for aging. 85+/100 points.


Vina Carić Bogdanjuša 2015

Light golden color with green reflections. Extremely fresh, crisp and savory wine. Some lovely citruses on the nose coupled with a subtle hints of apricot. A touch of almonds at the back palate bringing in a little sour notes which increases complexity of this wine. Definitely, foodie wine, yet perfectly suitable to drink on its own! Lovely acidity and low alcohol level! This harmonious and elegant wine ready to enjoy now, however will still develop further in the next year! 87/100 points


Plenković Bogdanuša 2015

Color of gold. Floral notes picked on the nose, a variety of Mediterranean herbs. Very emphasized minerality, and a bit softer acidity then expected. Medium bodied, harmonious wine, with a lovely lingering aftertaste of citruses. 85+/100 points.


Tomić Beleca 2015 (Bogdanuša and Pošip)

Golden color with some green hints. On the nose one first picks some sweet notes, coming from fruits, ripe apples, flowers. Good acidity. In this blend Bogdanuša somehow made Pošip softer and 'weaker' which renders this wine as a perfect match for a more serious foodie fare. There is a tropical touch in this wine contributed by Pošip. Medium-bodied wine and a perfect choice for sommeliers as it can nicely 'cover' quite a range of foods and gastronomy styles. 86+/100 points.


Duboković Moj Otok 2015 (Bogdanuša, Maraština (Rukatac), Kuč and Parč (Prč))

Wine has a lovely color of amber - deep, intensive yellow. The acidity comes mostly from Kuč (Ugni Blanc). There are honey notes, almond, orange peel hints and a rustic touch of old oak, fondly known as 'a grandfather's barrel'. This wine went spontaneously through malolactic fermentation, so it is amazingly smooth and silky, its complexity notwithstanding. It is truly a great attempt to make macerated white wine! 89+/100 points.


Duboković Moja B 2013

Golden color with subtle green hints. Very subtle hints of old barrels coupled with honey and floral notes. Lovely and lingering aftertaste after a bit short mid-palate. Pretty elegant with 12% alcohol. Alive and kicking after three years and showing powers of Bogdanuša as an aged and more complex wine. This rendition of the indigenous Hvar variety is definitely more for the wine geeks and aficionados and not for 'commercial' purposes. 87/100 points

What a brilliant evening with these 6 lovely wines. I would like to thank Ivana Krstulović-Carić, Alen Gulan and hosts at PZ Svirče for this unique opportunity to learn more about viticultural riches of Dalmatia in general and Hvar in particular. Bogdanuša as a variety definitely has a bright future and the time has come for the world to discover this beauty! Cheers!