A dozen years ago the premium category of wines in Istria came down to three or four names. Today more than twenty wineries competes and constantly struggles for prestige in the most important category of aged wines of highest quality. In the past months we have gathered almost all better known labels in Istria and with systematic tasting determined the current Istrian wine elite. Some names are already well known, while new and promising ones we have yet to meet. This list cites only labels with continuous quality, without ‘one hit wonder’ wines, wrote Saša Špiranec in Jutarnji List on November 9, 2017. In alphabetical order, not by quality, here they are:
AGROLAGUNA FESTIGIA CABERNET SAUVIGNON RISERVA
The crown of good work in Agrolaguna in the past dozen years is this label. Although they have an entire line of good and dependable wines under the Festigia label, especially Malvazija, this red is a wine you can place in the cellar and forget about it as its lifespan is 10 to at least 15 years.
ARMAN FRANC MERLOT SUPERIOR
Wines by Franc Arman in the basic line always an original Istrian rural rusticity and essential aromas and tastes of Istrian indigenous varieties. In the premium category we need to note two crests, Teran Barrique and Merlot Superior. Teran Barrique is the result of careful selection and 12 months of aging in barrique barrels, while Merlot Superior, possibly the best Merlot in Istria, is a full, strong and slightly robust wine, a signature of this winery, with an aroma of ripe bark fruit and a chocolate and spicy retro flavour.
Currently the most important Teran in Istria which shows that positions around Motovun and Kaldir are excellent for this variety. Made through strict selection, waiting until the last harvest deadlines and polished with aging in barrels and bottles to perfection. A great wine with an aging potential. Winner of the platinum medal at the DWWA in London.
BENVENUTI MALVAZIJA ANNO DOMINI
Winning the trophy for best Croatian wine and gold medal at the IWC in London this year is only confirmation of the excellence of this wine, which we in the homeland already knew. Malvazija ripened in large oak barrels certainly belongs to the top of the Istrian wine scene.
CATTUNAR TERAN BARRIQUE
An excellent wine which for some reason is not in the public’s eye, and has at least 15 years of continuous quality. We recall the 2004 edition which beat all other Terans at a blind tasting. Along with this Teran, their Cabernet Sauvignon Barrique is in the same quality class.
Grand Clai, as Giorgio Clai refers to himself when joking, made a truly great wine completely from the Refošk variety. It is a massive wine with a full body and high concentration which bristles with aromas of dark berry fruit, densely swirls in the glass and lingers long in the mouth. The market is so thirsty for it, so having it is a privilege.
CLAI SVETI JAKOV
Clai Brombonero style was also copied onto the Malvazija, which is in body and strength one of the most opulent in Istria. It fermented, on berries in open barrels, without any selected yeasts and enzymes, and was waged in large wooden barrels. The wine is full of savour and has an exceptionally rich taste, and is made only in the best of years.
CORONICA GRAN TERAN
The pioneer of premium Terans in Istria, Moreno Coronica, keeps letting us know that his Gran Teran is the criterion for all others who wish to try this variety. In style, his Teran is a nuance more elegant than others as he avoids overly ripe grapes. The potential for aging this wine can be measured in decades.
CORONICA GRAN MALVAZIJA
A Malvazija full of ripeness, taste and exceptional minerality. It moved away from its former vanilla style and has advanced towards a fresher, more authentic aroma of the variety. Oak management was quite well performed during ripening and the wine is its own, reflective of the terroir. Best to be consumed 5 to 8 years after the harvest.
A rookie in the company of the best regularly impresses with his IQ Malvazijas, and those aged as well, and the Clemente coupage is based on Merlot, with Cabernet Sauvignon, Teran and Burgundy – an exceptional wine. Rich and rounded, with velvety tannins and plenty of sweet spices and ripe dark fruit on the nose, and an aging potential.
DEGRASSI MALVAZIJA ISTARSKA SELEKCIJA
We rarely meet such a good Malvazija. It was produced through a selection of the best grapes and careful and timely vinification. The scent is so exuberant that it seems like an exaggeration. Ripe fruits, spices, a tropical note, some minerality, some citrus. Equally intensive taste, full of minerality and savour, perfectly balanced between freshness and exuberance, with an attractive salty-bitter retro flavour.
DEGRASSI TERRE BIANCHE CUVEE ROUGE
Degrassi always excels at red wines. This one is composed of 7 varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, petit Verdot, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Refošk. Each variety was separately aged in wooden barrels for 18 months, coupaged in equal ratios. The scent is reminiscent of a left bank Bordeaux such as Pauillac, and in the mouth is an authentic Istrian. A great wine.
Simfonija is a Malvazija with a smaller percentage of Chardonnay and is a full, strong, ripe and aged wine marketed at least three years after the harvest, with a lifespan a dozen years from harvest. It is best consumed as a meditation wine in the evening hours, chilled to a red wine temperature.
FAKIN TERAN IL PRIMO
Another rookie on the list whose intentions are quite serious. Teran Il Primo is his best red wine, although he has another more ambitious one aged a full year. The wine has a fantastic scent of red fruit, has soft tannins, juicy finish and excellently integrated spices from wood.
FAKIN MALVAZIJA LA PRIMA
The Fakin winery made better results with the Malvazija than with the Teran. They are winners of Vinistra with the basic Malvazija for two years in a row, and gold medal recipients at this year’s DWWA. Acacia flower, citruses and honey tones are just some of the aromas you can find in this complex wine with an aging potential of at least five years.
KABOLA MALVAZIJA UNICA
Malvazija Unica is only marketed periodically, in good harvests, as is fitting for the most prestigious labels of a winery. Since we recently tasted their harvests over five years old and saw they are in excellent shape, this wonderful, full and ripe wine of monumental minerality is more than an excellent investment. An Istrian classic.
KABOLA TERAN AMFORA
A novelty on the market surely to be talked about. Kabola has successfully been making Malvazija in amphorae, but the first edition of Teran is more than impressive. Although it spent months underground, it did not gain too much tannin grip, but is perfectly balanced, full of freshness and authentic varietal aromas, with an aging potential of at least fifteen years.
KOZLOVIĆ SANTA LUCIA CRNA
Kozlović’s Santa Lucia is equal in style and quality to the super Tuscans, as it has dominant presence of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon blended with some local Teran. Thus we can easily name it a super Istrian. Complex and broad on the nose with dark fruit, leather and spice notes, but intense and with plenty of freshness in the mouth. A great wine which is also made only in the good years.
KOZLOVIĆ MALVAZIJA SANTA LUCIA
The mother of all aged Malvazijas in Istria went through large changes since its first edition in 2001. From high alcohols, sugar residue and strong oak influence to today’s balanced, completely dry and very fresh wines without any oak aromas. It has a 10 year aging potential.
MATOŠEVIĆ GRIMALDA CRNA
Grimalda is the name of the position and vineyard in central Istria where the Matošević winery makes wine with an excellent terroir stamp. A blend of Merlot and Teran, 85/15, small yield. Aged in French oak barrels for 15 months. A Bordeaux wine, with accented minerality and freshness. An exceptional wine.
MATOŠEVIĆ MALVAZIJA ALBA ANTIQUE
A wine which is truly a stylistic homage to Istrian wine tradition. From a vineyard near Krasica near Buje. Maceration and fermentation of several days and then 30 months in small barrels of French oak and acacia. Not made regularly, covering a huge span of dishes as its mighty taste easily carries even the most demanding food. Can be aged for 10 years from harvest.
The most important label of the Meneghetti winery is a classic Bordeaux right bank blend with a dominating Merlot and trailing Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Quite concentrated and strong wine in the warmest of harvests with grapes nearly overly ripe. Has massive aging potential and is a true oenology delicacy.
The second crest of the Meneghetti winery is made from Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc. A scent with attractive exotic pineapple, citrus and melon notes, toasted hazelnut and well blended oak. Concentrated and creamy texture in the mouth. A classic Meursault approach to Chardonnay which can also be aged 5 to 8 years, depending on the harvest year.
ROXANICH MILVA CHARDONNAY
From a line of extremely long macerated wines by the Roxanich winery, this Chardonnay named Milva stands out the most. It is an orange wine, foggy, with a brilliant aroma blend of overly ripe fruit, glazed citruses, cider and spices. A true splendour and abundance in the mouth sliced with an attractive lively acidity. In good years can last up to 15 years from harvest.
SAINTS HILLS NEVINA
Fantastic wine. From Malvazija and Chardonnay. Perfectly tamed and dosed spices. Tropical aromas mixed with ripe aromas of continental fruits, peach and hints of citruses. Slight minerality and pleasant freshness. With serious potential for a dozen years of aging, in perfect form and without a need for additional wait once on the market.
TRAPAN THE ONE
The signature wine by Bruno Trapan which embodies the nature of its creator. The wine does not indulge the public with softness and concentration, but is authentic, made for true connoisseurs ready to age wine and wait for the perfect moment to open it. A 50/50 blend of Syrah and Teran with more than 10 years of aging potential.
The famous winner of the DWWA platinum award in London with a fresh and young wine from Teran which he named Istrian for political reasons. It is a wine whose aging potential is still unknown as the vinification method is new, but is currently in excellent shape and its quality belongs among the most prestigious wine labels of Istria.
Translated from Jutarnji List.