The Pošip of Krajančić
The islands off the coast of Croatia are nothing short of stunning and Korčula is the one island that has the advantage of not being a long, once-a-day ferry ride away from the mainland, and about two hours’ drive north of Dubrovnik. At the same time, it offers all the island beauty and is surprisingly quiet once you get away from the tourist-fest of Korčula City on the east end. If one is so inclined, you can get even more peace by going to the south-facing village of Zavalatica where winemaker Luka Krajančić is based.
Heading down the same road that goes to Pošip Čara you’ll know when you’ve hit Zavalatica. Its brilliant blue waters are some of the clearest to be found. The dock on one side of the village is full of kids plunging in during the peak of the summer. On the other side, down a single lane road lies Plaža Žitna which is an equally shimmering, hidden cove that at first seems it will be your very own beach until you see all the cars with Czech license plates parked at the top of the path that leads down.
But it’s here where Luka lives, makes his mostly Pošip-based wines, and composes his poetry–a natural fit given that 18th century poet Petar Kanavelić also called Zavalatica home for part of the year. For those who have seen either the winery’s pamphlet or the original Croatian-labelled bottles, you’ll be familiar with Luka’s wordcraft. It’s hard to translate it in to English as not only is poetry a bastard to shift between languages, but it’s also written in the Korčulan dialect of Croatian–yes there are dialects specific to each of the islands, as if Croatian wasn’t hard enough for foreigners. But, on to the wines.
Since Yugoslav times, Korčula has been Pošip country. But, given the amount of sun, it would be quite easy to grow reds which Luka does in a very, very small amount. Available commercially though are all the white wines of this lovely, bold, yet nuanced grape that has made the island its adopted home.
The 2009 Intrada has 13.4% alcohol and serves as a great example of Pošip. We found that the nose had citrus tones of both citron as well as grapefruit. The body can be a touch buttery, but has strong, well-structure acidity that screams for food pairings such as seafood. On that note, while the label says it has hints of “seashells” we found that this could be best summed up as a pleasant saltiness that works to accentuate the acidity.
Despite all of this, it still composes itself with a good minerality and finishes clean. To best compare it to a French varietal that people might be more familiar with, you could say that it has Chenin Blanc qualities. Important to note is that even though it’s a 2009 vintage, it could probably age even a few more years if desired.
With the 2009 Sur Lie (13.5% alcohol) you take the Intrada and toss in a large degree of oak aromas and flavors. If you like oaky whites, then this is an ideal wine for you. For us, the oak detracted from the overall stellar grapes to some extent.
The Sur Lie does benefit from breathing more than the Intrada and after about 45 minutes or so, some interesting elements develop such as a hint of graham crackers. But, more interesting is probably this quality that kicks out of the nose just before you drink it that is reminiscent of pršut (Croatian ham) and works well with the oak in the body.
This 2007 Pošip was probably our favorite of the lot. You would never know that it has a touch higher alcohol at 13.9% due to the wonderfully fragile, light nose that the wine carries. It almost seems as if there is a touch of lavender to the nose which might be the reason that Luka has an illustration of a sea urchin with lavender on its spines decorating the bottle.
The defining element to both the nose and the body though, is orange blossom. It’s a slightly sweet and citric element with a touch of oil and meatiness to it. Very, very pleasing and it all goes to show that, as suspected in the 2007 Intrada, these wines are indeed quite happy to age.
We talk a great deal more about Pošip as well as other Croatian wines in our Dalmatian wine guide.
Ancestral Wine Cellar - Khikhvi 2014 95
First harvest of Khikhvi. Light apricot notes, peach skin, lemon peel. Citric in the mouth, fresh, lively acidity, vibrant. Very holistic, full and deliciously good.
100% Khikhvi · 12% · 30GEL
Petriaant Marani - Khikhvi 2015 94
Bruised red apple, touch of lemon peel, limestone minerality, and some white pepper notes at the back of it. High acidity and full in the mouth. Luscious, involving, elegant wine.
100% Khikhvi · 14% · 25GEL
Domaine Augustin - Adéodat Blanc 2016 93
Lemon and white peach, strong kick of salinity, and toasted notes. Very fleshy and full on the palate, peach notes more prominent as well as Meyer lemon, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish.
100% Grenache Gris · 14.5% · 20EUR
AA Badenhorst - Secateurs Red Blend 2012 93
Forest bramble with ripe red fruit, touches of cherry, ripe red plum, tiny bit of prune, cumin, anise, black licorice, wet cement mineral note, underlying fig jam. Crisp medium plus acidity, medium tannins, medium plus length, medium alcohol, overall medium plus body that’s ripe and lively but super fresh and balanced at the same time. Bit of rugged wildness to it but doesn’t get out of hand. Easy to drink but with just enough underlying complexity so that it stays interesting.
56% Syrah 27% Cinsaut 6% Grenache 4% Cabernet Sauvignon 7% "Others" · 13.5% · 12EUR
Domaine Treloar - Motus 2015 93
Dark ruby, minor rim. Big, mighty bouquet of red cherry and other brambly forest fruit, vanilla, almond blossom, orange peel, and cocoa. Rich and full on the palate with a wealth of tannins still integrating, leading into a crunchy, lingering finish.
80% Mourvèdre 10% Syrah 10% Grenache · 14% · 14EUR
Domaine of the Bee - Cuvée 2015 93
Ruby with minor garnet rim. Rich red fruits with an underpinning of ripe plum, orange peel, licorice, cocoa. Broad, round tannins with a touch of toast and sweet cocoa in a long finish. Manages to stay very light on the palate despite the higher alcohol.
50% Grenache 50% Carignan · 15% · 25EUR
Tchotiashvili - Khikhvi 2014 93
Apricot, yellow peach, orange peel, and a touch of honey. Quite complex aromatically. Orchard fruit much more prevalent in the mouth with young apricot notes. Rich and elegant, touch of astringency in the finish.
100% Khikhvi · 13.1% · 28GEL
Domaine Fontanel - Prieuré 2014 92
Dense ruby with brick flecks. Crisp red fruits, lifted by a waft of volatility making for a light nose with a spicy licorice and leather component. Crisp and lively with red cherry fruit in the mouth and a nudge over medium acidity. Nice, lingering finish.
50% Syrah 25% Grenache 25% Mourvèdre · 14.5%
Cave Abbé Rous - Cornet & Cie Blanc 2016 92
Peach, orange peel & blossom, honey, dried apricot, and a hint of green apple. Very nicely balance in the mouth, green apple notes more prevalent, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish. Fresh, lively, very pleasing wine to drink.
60% Grenache Gris 25% Grenache Blanc 5% Marsanne 5% Roussanne 5% Vermentino · 14.5%
Clos Henri - Petit Clos Pinot Noir 2016 92
Earthy, red cherries, young, crisp cranberry, light herbal notes, leafy, minor chalk. Medium tannins and medium plus acidity as well as length. Light sweetness on the palate but with a very pleasant, lingering structure and lightness to it.
100% Pinot Noir · 13.5% · 16.50EUR