“My vineyard of Plavac Mali is crushed stone. When I left Smokvica winery in 2010, where I had worked in the cooperative for three years as one of the enologists, I cleared half a hectare of vineyards, crushed stone and in essence, moved the forest into the vineyard. Here in the bottle is the first crop of Plavac Mali from that vineyard,” with a lot of pride spoke to me young Igor Radovanović from Smokvica, member of the young wine making group from Korčula island that is gradually and fully taking over and creating the local wine scene.
He has learned from the best and most prominent, absorbed all advice and experience from previous harvests transferred to him by legendary enologist Janko Jovanov, first wine maker of the Čara cooperative, not shy to spend today hours and hours online and in specialised wine making forums, such as Travelling Winemakers - Living the Dream, and exchange experiences with colleagues from around the world.
“I try to be up to date and many new things, that I hear from colleagues from around the world, I first apply at home and if it works - I pass it on. I often get asked how far are Korčula winemakers and Korčula as a wine region from world trends. I say to all - Korčula is absolutely in all world trends, while reviews of the best Croatian wines, with a white wine from Korčula always near the top, only prove my words shown in practice through their wines by Luka and Jakša Krajančić and Frano Milina Bire,” said Igor.
Although only in his 32nd year of life, besides his own winery, he can boast of being a consultant in wine creation in ten other Korčula wineries. In Nerica cooperative of Jakša Krajančić he is also employed full time...
“I know it seems weird a young guy advising others, but I can say that I am lucky that all my clients are nearly my age or younger than 40, so there aren’t many different world views. On the other hand, I have been lucky, results have been good all around and people accept and appreciate you. If I had failed somewhere, it wouldn’t be like this. I have good luck!”
Igor likes to experiment, but when it comes down to applying experience from his “laboratory” games, he is very careful. He says he has managed in his wine story to keep the relationship to wine as a game.
“I am always combining something, mixing, experimenting and what comes out good I present to others through my consultancy. For example, I began applying cold maceration of red wine before fermentation, then a cold and long maceration of white wines...”
Although the labels of his wines suggest, maybe, that this young winemaker from Smokvica loves social games - tic tac toe and poker, he rejects such notions right away.
“I would prefer to say I love the association game. For me the wine itself is a game that you can lose and win. Tic tac toe on the label gives everyone the option to choose whether that wine is a winning or losing combination. Pondering the labels, tic tac toe was just the first association to a game in which wine should be fun and make people spend time together and feel better.”
Igor does spend time with wine intensely with his colleagues and winemaker friends, so much to enter joint projects without prejudice and vanity. Such as the Tris sparkling wine...
"The name Tris for a sparkling was a completely different association. There are three of us in the production of Tris, and the sparkling is from three indigenous sorts. Considering the common number three, we decided to call it Tris.”
There are three sorts in Tris - Pošip, Rukatac and Cetinka, while the three creators of Tris are Igor Radovanović, Nikola Mirošević and Matej Jovanović, son of Janko Jovanov, chief enologist in Čara cooperative.
“We spend a lot of time together and travel too and since I work as a consultant in many wineries, I looked for something that would not go against my primary business and be different than other production on Korčula. SO we decided to make a sparkling. We researched various combination for several years - just Pošip, just Rukatac, just Grk or just Cetinka and arrived at the combination of these three sorts in ratios that we like.”
Igor is intensively researching the options of amphorae and orange wines and by next summer, he believes, the first Korčula Pošip from amphorae will be on the market! Signed by Ante Milina, Igor’s friend, peer and wine enthusiast from Smokvica.
“For now I can say the Pošip has done its time in amphorae, is currently in wooden barrels ad in excellent condition! Miraculous wine!”
He is interested in making “a sweet wine,” trying all sorts of things...
“I turn slowly to certain predicates and we’ll see in which direction it will go. We mustn’t forget that from this area some winemakers over a hundred years ago at world wine fairs won with sweet wines, such as a baked Grk. I am pondering such a Grk, but would first like to make a Prosecco from Plavac Mali or a variant of semi-sweet Pošip. I know of no sort such as Pošip that can have such a wide array of wines - from sparkling to fresh and lively wines from stainless steel, sweet variants made by Luka Krajančić and amphorae. Pošip has enormous research potential!”
On his labels Igor persists to present his winery as a - garage production.
“I believe my winery is literally a garage production, so I am a garage winemaker, although, when viewed in world scale, all wineries in Korčula, except Čara cooperative, are garage productions! I even borrow equipment from people I consult. But, regardless of conditions, I try to do everything by the book.”
On the label of his Plavac Mali Igor wrote - “Single Barrel,” which would mean the wine comes from one barrel.
“I make some 5-6 wooden barrels and bottle and market the wine from the best of those barrels. That’s why it’s a Single Barrel! These are very limited editions. From a 500 litre barrel I only bottle around 700 bottles of Plavac Mali. Although Pošip has due to its quality and recognisability pushed all aside, Korčula can be proud of its Plavac which are good, especially from the south slopes.”
As any Korčula resident, Igor is into folklore, dancing in the Smokvica group, spending less and less time in the sea depths enjoying underwater fishing as - “I am in this business so much that wine is almost everything, no time for anything else. Wine has become my job, my hobby and my life!”
For the original and more from Vinske Priče blog on wine, click here.