Croatian Winemakers: Degrassi in Savudrija

By , 27 Dec 2016, 21:45 PM Croatian Wine Producers

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Degrassi is the westernmost winery in Croatia, located in Istria, in Savudrija, near the border with Slovenia, and exactly at the point where the border dispute between Croatia and Slovenia is based, and a couple of hundred meters from the oldest lighthouse on the Adriatic still being used today. Degrassi family don’t really pay much attention to the border disputes; they are much more concentrated on the other division in Istria: the one between the red and the white soil. While those soils obviously differ quite a lot, they are both quite mineral, and so are the wines made from the grapes grown on them.

Degrassi winery has vineyards mostly in the Buje region, one of the most valuable wine-growing regions of Istria, on the south-facing slopes of the hills between Buje and Brtonigla. And those positions, where their 25 hectares of vineyards are located, are considered to be the premium locations in those hills, where the grapes have been grown for centuries to make wine for the emperors and wine connoisseur. So, these days, Degrassi winery has the responsibility of living up to that tradition, and they do that, first and foremost in the vineyard itself, making sure they keep the yield on their vines as low as economically viable, in order to help the vine achieve high quality and intensity.

Ever since the mid-nineties, when they started making wine commercially, the winery has been run by the father-son team, Nino and Moreno, where the younger, Moreno is the lead winemaker, the main force behind the innovative approach taken by this winery. The winery grows the unusually large number of varieties, and bottles them into a large selection of labels, both varietal and cuvees. The wines are named after the micro-locations of the vineyards, so malvazija is called Bomarchese, cabernet sauvignon and franc as well as sauvignon blanc, merlot and viognier are Contarini, chardonnay is Ferné and teran and refošk (two very similar but still genetically significantly varied varieties) are grown on the red soil, and called Terre Rose.

In addition, they produce quite a large selection of reserve wines, in the best of years, choosing the best of the grapes they create the small series of exceptionally intense and special wines, to be had in the special occasions. And of those wines, both basic and reserve, sometimes a wine appears that deserves to be archived, to be kept in the best possible conditions and allowed to mature and develop over the years: these days you can still purchase some of their gems, such as a 1996 chardonnay, or a dreamy 2003 and 2004 merlot. You can take a tour in their cellar, designed and furbished to meet the winemakers every wish, but also to give the guests the welcome feeling in the tasting room, open for tastings and visits every day.

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