Favorite Wines: Pinot Noir & Reisling
Josipa has managed to see a great deal of the wine world during her time managing tanks, harvests, and macerations. Despite originally being from Mostar, in Bosnia & Herzegovina (where there is a vibrant wine industry) and earning her degree in the Croatian institute, her first harvest was actually in Napa Valley, California in 2001. She also worked the 2002 harvest in Sonoma at two vineyards. Then of course there was Australia, New Zealand (twice), Austria, the 2007 harvest at Enjingi, and then California (again) for the 2009 harvest. And that’s not all, as there have been other small harvests tossed in there as well.
It’s something of a dizzying, mad dash around the world, especially as while winemaking seems like some bucolic gentleman’s pastime, the truth is that when the harvest rolls around, you’re busting your ass like you’ve never busted it before. These days, Josipa is working a bit closer to home, managing a new winery in Herzegovina called, Nuić near Ljubuški, bringing the broader wine horizons of the world back to where she’s originally from to produce the workhorse grapes of the area: Žilavka and Blatina.
Her philosophies on winemaking make me want to taste anything she produces. For starters, she feels that oak barrels are good in wine production, but only when they’re neutral or more at least on their third fill. That’s welcome news in an age where many bottles of wine are flavored solely by wood and not by grape.
She also has what I’d call a “holistic” approach to winemaking and not in a biodynamic sense, but more in a sense of just feeling the wine and letting it feel you back. I got the impression when talking to her that her cellar is her garden and as she checks in on the wine, she talks to it, seeing how it’s doing that day, like you would with a ripening tomato vine. Maybe the wine needs a hug? Sure, no problem, hug given. Maybe it needs more love? Draw a heart on the tank.
She has a preference for making single varietal wines when she can and especially whites. In my opinion, this is about as dangerous as you can get. Having a lot of home winemakers in my family who produced whites in the foothills near Zagreb, I have to say that it’s very, very easy to make a very, very bad single varietal white wine because, unlike reds where it seems easier to hide “goofs”, the white is much more honest and unforgiving. When it works, it’s glorious though.
It’s easy to have trust in Josipa’s wines though as when talking to her, you feel what the grapes must when in her presence as she has this encompassing spirit that takes up the immediate space around her. I just hope at some point a bottle of Nuić will come my way or that I can crash one of her friend meetups where they get together to share the wines she’s been part of.