The Island of Korčula is the spiritual home of the white variety Pošip (Poe-ship), and by all accounts, was first discovered here. There’s even a monument dedicated to the wine. The Island’s winemaking history dates back to the Illyrians, but had its longest run as a part of the Venetian Empire for nearly 400 years until the late 1700s. As an island in Southern Dalmatia, phylloxera came later in the late 1920s.
Not too long afterwards, Frano Banicević’s great grandfather founded the Toreta Winery. Fortunately for his grandson, he also dutifully wrote down everything about winemaking and working in the vineyard as well. This traditional knowledge and historical reverence is central to how Frano works. There’s basically a museum’s worth of vintage winemaking tools and documents littering the winery. The name Toreta is also the local name for the small round stone shelters built to protect workers from the fierce winds and elements. These date back to the aforementioned Illyrian tribes.
Two things immediately make Korčula unique when compared to the nearby Pelješac Peninsula or the Southern Dalmatian mainland where red grapes dominate and the terrain is largely Mediterranean chaparral. Korčula is densely covered in forests and white grapes dominate.
While there is delicious red Plavac Mali here, it’s the white grapes of Grk, Maraština, and the flagship Pošip that are the island’s calling cards. Whether coming from Vela Luka in the west or from the old town of Korčula on the eastern part of the island, as you descend down to the village of Smokvica it’s clear what makes it ideal for grapes. The iron rich red soils are in a valley with the ocean a mere 7-10 min drive to the south and steep forested hills to the north. Humidity is an issue, so having the right exposure and protection from these coastal winds is crucial. Frano’s farming keeps yields low, healthy diversity allows for lower disease pressure, and his pick dates tend to be earlier than most. Herbicides and pesticides didn’t even exist when his great grandfather farmed this land, so no reason Frano should use them either.
This excellent, top-tier 2020 Toreta Pošip is sourced from Frano’s oldest (25+ year old) vineyard. After a 4 day maceration, the juice is fermented in stainless steel, and then the resulting wine is aged 8 months (80% Stainless, and 20% Slavonian oak Barrel) on the lees before racking and bottling.
The 2020 screams Pošip and is one of the biggest and fullest bodied, dry whites in Dalmatia. However powerful, this wine still remains incredibly fresh, vibrant and light on its feet. Full of ripe pear and apple fruit accented by saline minerality, but with a reverberating underlying acidity to keep everything balanced and so deliciously refreshing. One of our customers upon tasting exclaimed “Kistler Chardonnay”!
Great by itself, but naturally appropriate for oysters and sea-fare, or braised pork smothered in Mediterranean herbs. One regional favorite is ravioli stuffed with local goat cheese. We are anxious to try this autumn with butternut squash or pumpkin ravioli with brown butter, and fried sage sprinkled with grated parmesan cheese. YUM!