Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe
Outside the tasting room with Smokvica in the background
Like most single-owner Croatian wineries, the story of Toreta on Korčula is all about a family history of wine making that stopped during Communism and is now working to produce again. In this case, the man who has taken up the helm is the very young Frano Banicević, who, at 25 has begun to run the winery that his great-grandfather built at the turn of the 20th century. Like most of the new generation in Croatia that are taking over from their parents or grandparents, they are full of ideas and ways to get their wines more well-known. One of the biggest examples of this is that fact that there are actually signs to the Toreta winery and it is quite easy to find in Smokvica. Others are a little more subtle like a gradual change in the design of the bottle labels. While seen as something of a waste by the older generations, Frano is keenly aware of how much it affects the decision of the consumer.
The barrel sign out front
The one thing that really doesn’t change is the commitment to producing good wines. We tried two of their vintages in the tasting room that they have in ‘downtown’ Smokvica. By the way, ‘smokva’ is the Croatian word for fig and the region was apparently covered in them prior to massive wine cultivation. There still are some being grown and if you get the chance to try a fig jam from Dalmatia, do so as they’re some of the best in the world, but I deliciously digress.
Toreta’s 2005 Pošip at 13.9% alcohol is aged in Slavonian Oak. It starts out with a lovely, sweet nose that has aromatic touches of honey, apple, and a bit of pear. The body is full and surprisingly heavy, in that a great bit of the nose gets lost in it, but many of the tones come through regardless, all the way to a bit of lemon on the finish.
The Toreta is a 12.5% alcohol Plavac that is only classified as ‘stolno’ or table wine. Frano warned me about it not being that amazing before I tasted it, but I think he really sells the wine far too short, as it is actually quite good. While not a Dingač, it still retains a few of the elements in the nose. The body drops all of this and is quite light, but the high acidity you can taste in the wine speaks to me that it would pair extremely well with most any dish.
Visiting Toreta was a very pleasing experience overall to see how the younger generation of Korčula is slowly gaining the reigns from the older generation and doing it with what appears to be relative ease.