Introducing ... Ahearne Vino, Croatia

English-born Jo Ahearne MW has been making wine on the Dalmatian island of Hvar in Croatia since 2014. In 1998, she completed her Oenology degree in Australia where she worked a vintage at Charles Melton in the Barossa. After some years spent consulting across Australia and Europe, Jo decided to make her own wine in Croatia in 2014. She saw huge potential in Hvar’s top vineyard sites and moved there full-time in 2016. Jo describes the island as one of the most beautiful places on earth with a wealth of old vines, indigenous varieties and fantastic soils. 

Croatia has 130 indigenous grape varieties and Hvar itself has a number of varieties which only grow on the island. Jo shines a light on Hvar’s potential by using these local grape varieties and employing low- intervention winemaking. The fruit is sourced from local growers, with a focus on varieties unique to Hvar. 

The rosé is produced from a grape variety called Darnekuša. It is on the brink of extinction, given there are only 1.5ha of bush vines in existence, which are located in the highest vineyard in Hvar at 500m elevation. Darnekuša typically displays spice and pronounced acidity and is well- structured, resulting in a more serious style of rosé. The Rosina spends eight months on the lees, giving texture and structure to the finished wine. Named after Jo’s mother, the Rosina is expressive with delicate fruit and floral aromas, a mineral backbone and a distinct fresh rhubarb character. The Wild Skins is a blend of three white grape varieties sourced from the north side of the island: Bogdanuša, Kuć and Pošip. The first two of these varieties can be quite neutral so Jo decided to experiment with an extended skin maceration to produce a deeper, more complex character in the finished wine. Skin contact for the different varieties ranged from 10 to 340 days. Each variety is fermented separately and kept on its lees for eight months with regular battonage before blending. A small volume from the 2016 vintage, which was kept on lees for 21 months, completes the final blend. Pale gold in colour, the Wild Skins has layered flavours of quince, honey and rosemary with an enticing phenolic tension on the palate balanced by fresh, lingering acidity.

Jo currently produces small quantities of each cuvée, sold primarily at the cellar door. We are therefore delighted to launch these distinctive wines into the UK market.