Croatian Rose Wines Shine Forth at Fourth Pink Day in Zagreb

By 21 March 2016

A celebration of rose in Zagreb, as the first Master of Wine to make wine in Croatia debuts at Pink Day. 

Mimara Museum in Zagreb was literally buzzing with wine enthusiasts on March 19, 2016, as they gathered in a cheerful crowd to enjoy over 100 quality rosé wines from Croatia and beyond. The fourth edition of the Pink Day festival, which was organised by Women on Wine,  was opened by the Mayor of Zagreb, Milan Bandić, who symbolically cut the pink ribbon honouring the event for highlighting Zagreb and Croatia on the wine map of Europe. The opening was also marked by a minute's silence for the untimely passing of one of the giants of the Croatian wine scene earlier this week, Zlatan Plenković from Sveta Nedjelja on Hvar – click here for TCN's tribute to a man who helped put Croatian wine on the global map.

A sunny afternoon in Mimara was a unique opportunity to enjoy the first outing of a rosé vintage made exclusively by the first Master of Wine to make wine in Croatia. Jo Ahearne, who moved to Hvar last year to start making wine, presented her single variety Darnekuša, a red grape variety only grown on Hvar. For the occasion, TCN sat down with Jo to find the reasons behind this unusual choice of grape:

“I was looking for a variety with the right amount of acidity, and Plavac Mali just wasn’t it for me. In spite of being neglected in favour of more traditional wines, Darnekuša with its low alcohol content proved to be just the right fit for a quality gastro rose with strong structure “.

Jo explained how she picked her Darnekuša from a plateau on a northern slope of Hvar’s highest peak, St. Nikola, and is producing only 3000 bottles this year:

“We are aiming for quantity that is small enough to control, but big enough to earn us resources for further development”. It is Jo’s perfectionist approach that is producing not only sublime wines, but also local wine growers who are benefiting from Jo’s vast knowledge.

A fun fact is that there are more astronauts in the world that Masters of Wine, and with less than 350 Masters of Wine on the planet, Jo's decision to choose Croatia is all the more encrouraging for the Croatian wine scene. One person who recognized the value of having such an expert, and who has supported Jo’s efforts on Hvar from the beginning is a revolutionary in his own right - Andro Tomić. His Opolo nobile which he presented at the festival is made from Plavac Mali using special technology (skin contact: 12 hours) that gives the wine its fruity freshness and attractive pink colour, making it one of the island’s favourite summer refreshments.

(Jo Ahearne MW, right, with TCN's Tina Milicic)

In a very colourful selection presented at Mimara, a few wines stood apart. The Slovenian stand dazzled us with their offerings, and Konjiška Penina Rose simply entices one to explore more at Slovenian Pink Day on April 7 in Maribor. Popular also were the sweeter, more fruity varieties like the ones presented in PP Orahovica’s Frankovka Rose, with a romantic tone of rose, and Gastro Pantheon’s Rose Iuris, semi-sweet wine who’s Hubba Bubba raspberry bouquet matched its playful label. Among what is mostly perceived as 'girlish' wine, one rosé stood apart as a somewhat revolutionary blend of Teran, Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon that constituted a solid men’s rose – one that could be accompanied by a quality cigar on hot summer nights.

(Women on Wine president and Pink Day organiser Sanja Muzaferija, centre)

As a fantastic introduction into Spring and longer, warmer days to come, we welcome Pink Day as a great event to visit in Zagreb for everyone interested in serious pink refreshment.

(Legendary Hvar winemaker Andro Tomic with Jo Ahearne MW)