Plenty could be said about their herb brandy they make from a restored recipe of the former agricultural combine Opuzen.
Plenty could also be said about the Maraština, which sprouted in the second attempt on the extreme position on Komarna, the only one in that wine region. Josip Volarević says the first impressions of his colleagues from other wineries were “fantastic, they were all surprised of the wine we have, especially since it was produced from our first harvest.”
“Our first vines had dried up, but when the second seedlings beat the extreme conditions, the result were miraculous. Wine developed well, it has fantastic aromas, and we decided to do long macerations and long stirrings on its own yeasts, so in the end it turned out to be a complex and good wine,” says Josip.
Plenty could also be said of the Pošip some compare to the best editions of the great Luka Krajančić.
Or of mandarin wine, the only one in this region!
“We planted three hectares of mandarins, as we came to the idea that this fruit ripens after grapes, so we can keep or workers and give them additional tasks. In Neretva there is plenty of waste, mandarins of second and third class are sold for some petty money. I had the idea to make something of such cheap raw material. The first problem was a machine to peel the crust, as a person cannot peel much per day. And the acids are a problem too, fingers are damaged, while with gloves one cannot get a proper grip and they are squished. There is a machine for oranges, but a mandarin machine does not exist due to its softness. So from the two machines we have, I managed to make one which successfully removes crust from the juice, with 90 percent of success. The problem of mandarins is pectin and a type of alkaloid which gives it the tartness. We started this year and we had to make a sweet wine, as when we began the acids were slightly higher than at full ripeness of the mandarin. And I just wanted to use the leftover mandarins and see how it all develops, will fermentation begin, as after all these are abnormal conditions, lots of vitamin C in there, acids were 11, sugars slightly lower, all of this was a problem for fermentation. The mandarin is not full of nitrogen compounds and question was will it have enough food for fermentation. In the end, the experiment turned out well! We got a sweet mandarin wine with a small alcohol percentage. From the next harvest we will take overly ripe mandarins, when sugars are stronger than acids, so we get a dry wine. No one has made mandarin wine. The Spanish tried to, but did not succeed. For the third year I have been developing technology to produce wine from mandarins. Out of 6-7 tonnes of mandarins, only 500-600 litres of wine can be made! It’s not a great job in terms of feasibility. If it was, the Italians would have done it a long time ago,” says Josip.
The story which deserves the highest attention are certainly their labels for the rosé La Chic, made in cooperation with Misha Lenn, world renowned water colour painter, whose paintings are found in private collections of George Pataki, Mihael Gorbačov Foundation, Mstislav Rostropovič, Denise Rich, John Malkovich, Diana Krall, Dave Brubeck, John Williams, or even in Calvin Klein, Donna Karan collections, Godiva chocolates, films set of Fifty Shades of Grey…
“It all began when our designer Dubravko from Heroina suggested we present our rosé in a different way, as we have become popular and recognisable by that wine. In the beginning, when all we had planted was Plavac Mali, without any Maraština and Pošip, we had to market a fresh wine. And it was the rosé; with it we wanted to have some income and repay the investment. The Plavac wines were not in that category, they need to wait their time in the winery. As rosé wines were mostly made from poor grapes, good rosé wines were missing, so we decided to make ours from first class grapes. The audience acknowledged that, rosé became our brand and unavoidable at all our presentations, so today we produce 15.000 bottles of it, increasing that even further and raising its quality,” Josip began the story.
According to his words, Dubravko first thought of the name for the rosé, La Chic, and then set out to find the solution for a label on which he did not want the last name Volarević to dominate nor the stylized letter S, as in some other wines of the winery. He thought of the legendary painter Misha Lenn and his water colourings, suggested the idea to the Volarević brothers, and they sat together and googled Misha’s opus on his webpage. Until they found an image that seemed ideal for the illustration of La Chic.
“That lady in the image is so flaunty, she in fact represents everything we find in the Plavac Mali rosé – the soft side of a robust variety. We made contact with the painter, he did not hide his exhilaration with our desire to place his image on the label of our wine. When we drafted a cooperation contract, he requested we include sending four packs of La Chic to his New York address. He saw in all this a new possibility to promote his images, and showed a great desire to visit our vineyards. He is aware that he is not well known in our region, but he is renowned in global artistic circles.”
According to Josip, the cooperation with Misha Lenn, as it seems, will not stop with one image.
“We have plenty of plans, but won’t get ahead of ourselves. The next step is his arrival to Croatia, meeting of our wine story and presentation to the Croatian public,” concluded Josip Volarević.
For the original and more from Vinske Priče blog on wine, click here.