Indigenous treasure – “The neglected princess”
“The neglected princess” is one of Croatia’s best white varieties
To celebrate vugava, one of Croatia’s finest white varieties that has been unjustly neglected for so long, we have recalled the words of dr. sc. Goran Zdunić from the Institute for Adriatic Crops and Karst Reclamation in Split.
One of the most cited Croatian scientists, who has dedicated a significant part of his career to study the indigenous Dalmatian wine varieties, spoke with Slobodna Dalmacija journalist Meri Šilović four years ago. Read on what he had to say about the qualities of Vugava, its origin and market potential.
Why is vugava so special?
– Vugava, one of Croatia’s best white grape varieties, together with maraština, grk, pošip and malvasija from Dubrovnik, makes a group of premium Dalmatian white wines. The group is open to other white wines as well, under condition that they meet the requirements of the viticultural position (terroir) and the specific method of cultivation. The excellence of vugava goes way back in history and is not based only on the 30 years of modern production. It’s enough to recall the legacy of Frane Bulić who describes vugava as the best variety of central Dalmatia, the area that covers Brač, Vis and the coastal area between Split and Omiš. These historical records are priceless because they are based on many years of practical experiences of viticulturists and winemakers. This is something to be seriously considered, especially today when we try to propagate a variety or have special expectations from it.
Is it of autochthonous origin?
– Yes, vugava is an indigenous variety. The unique profile has been established by a DNA analysis that showed no match with any other variety in the world.
Is Vis truly the birthplace of vugava?
– This is a hard question. I know the fact is intriguing, but so far the parental varieties or the ones closely related to it have not been found. Therefore, it can’t be said for sure that it originates from Vis. However, one must know there are a few varieties in the world whose origin is determined with certainty. On the other hand, it’s a fact that vugava is the most widespread variety on Vis where it has existed for centuries. For this reason, Vis, or precisely central Dalmatia where it was once present, can be considered its gene center.
So Vis is the island of vugava?
– Yes, it is, but I don’t think it has always been the most widespread variety on the island. Simply said, so famous and of high quality, it wasn’t meant for mass production. Kuč, for example, was one of the most spread varieties on the island and of high yielding too. Vis is an island rightly titled as the island of wine. Agatarhid mentioned it in the 2nd century BC when he declared the wine from Vis the best in comparison to all the others.
How would you describe vugava in short?
– It gives full-bodied, fresh and highly drinkable wines with a fine, pleasantly fruity aroma that resembles overripe fruit. Due to hot summers in Dalmatia and early maturation, vugava often contains a high percentage of alcohol. Since the early days of cultivation it was used to make prosecco, a natural dessert wine that was traditionally obtained by drying grapes in the sun here on the Mediterranean.
Would you say that vugava is unjustly neglected despite its highly praised characteristics?
– It seems it is, but there is no justifiable reason for that. I think all prerequisites for the full revitalisation of vugava exist. Its quality is not in question and Vis abounds in excellent viticultural positions. Recently, a lot has been done on the cellar technology as well. There are not many varieties like vugava that give fine, full-bodied fragrant wines of harmonious taste. In my opinion, the bright future of vugava should not be questionable.