Niko Bura in the middle of an extensive tasting at his kitchen table.
Niko Bura is a Croatian garagiste, with his setup on the ground floor of his house, and he is one of this region’s leaders in quality. Niko is making wine in the vineyard, not in the winery. Indeed, we met him this morning tilling the soil between newly planted vines on the family’s Dingač hillside. Niko himself is soft-spoken, clearly proud of his artist daughter, whose painting hangs on the wall of the small tasting room, and appears on the label of Bura Galerija, a light cabernet sauvignon that was first released this year, made from grapes grown in a prime valley location. He is also experimenting with marsellane, a cross between cabernet and grenache. It will be three or four years before the first bottling. The wine called Bura, of 100% Dingač plavac mali, was first produced in 1995. This year saw the release of the first bottles of Mare, from Postup plavac mali and named after its maker, Niko’s sister Marija.
MARE 2004, Postup. For this vintage, the grapes were partially raisined due to lack of water on the hillsides. The wine is an unfiltered opaque purple with an aroma of hay, black fruit, and beef broth. It’s full-bodied, with creamy black fruit (plums, stewed blueberries) and slight raisin, and a long finish of fresh tobacco. Definitely a new-world style wine.
BURA 2004 Dingač. Bura is the masculine to Mare’s feminine. It too is unfiltered; it has more pine on the nose than Mare, stewed black fruit, and hay. It is fuller bodied, rounder, with the same creamy black fruit and long finish. The BURA 2003 offers herbs on the nose and palate, and more secondary flavors: hay, figs, slight beef broth, stewed blueberries, and a beautiful finish.
The 2002 has less tannin, sweeter oak, and a licorice undernote. It has a hay/camomile aroma, and slight raisin and prune on the palate.
After our longest day of tasting, we’ve experienced an exciting cross-section of Pelješac production that makes us want to go back and taste the wine of every other producer, to delve deeper into the history and future of wine in this region. The Dingač and Postup regions are tiny, but inland hillsides are being planted to vine. Where will the region be ten years from now?
(The Bura Dingač 2005 is available in our wine shop.)
Text and photos by Katherine Camargo, DWS / email@example.com