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Krauthaker Grasevina Mitrovac 2017
Grasevina, the Croatian name for the grape Welschriesling, is a specialty of the Krauthaker winery, located on the southern slopes of Krndija in the Kutjevo wine growing region. Almost 65% of their vineyards are planted to the varietal, and their mastery of this grape shows in the Grasevina Mitrovac. Straw yellow in color, the aromas leap out of the glass, with ripe apple, apricot, honey, and chamomile leading the way. The palate is fresh and fruity, with more stone fruit, a creamy and round texture, and a tart finish with just a hint of refreshing bitter melon and salinity. A hint of noble rot throughout the sip lends sweet, dessert-wine like flavors to this wine, although it is dry.
This wine is a fantastic pairing for richer seafood dishes like crab or lobster risotto, cured meats, or light summer appetizers like prosciutto and melon. It would also work well as a digestif during a cheese course.
Krauthaker Winery, in the renowned winegrowing region of Kutjevo, is a Grasevina specialist, making multiple types of the grape with both dry wines and sweeter, late harvested versions. The Grasevina Mitrovac is picked two weeks after the regular Grasevina, which lends some Botrytis Cinerea, or “Noble Rot” notes to the wine, however it is still fermented dry. The Mitrovac vineyard is fertilized only with manure, and is worked in part by horses so as to not compact the soil, and in keeping with Krauthaker’s environmentally friendly mantra.
Clai Ottocento Bijeli 2014
With just 8 hectares under vine, this boutique winery has been in the hands of the same family for generations and is currently run by talented winemaker Giorgio Clai. The Clai family’s winemaking philosophy centres around a celebration of indigenous grapes which they skillfully blend with popular international varieties that suit the Istrian terroir.
Their Bijeli is a dry white blend of local Istrian malvasia, Pinot gris, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc which are all harvested from the family’s organically-farmed vineyards on the Istrian Peninsula close to the border with Italy. After the harvest the grape must is vinified along with the skins using wild yeasts which are naturally present on the skins of the grapes. The wine is then aged in large wooden casks for around 15 months to soften and integrate the four different components until Giorgio decides it is ready to bottle and release.
Giorgio’s wines have developed a cult following in top restaurants and wine bars all over the world and it’s easy to see why once you take a sip of his stunning Bijeli. On the nose there are seductive notes of lemon curd, acacia flowers, ripe peaches and caramel, while the palate is well-rounded with spicy hints from the barrel ageing and plenty of ripe stone fruit and orange flavours.
Zlatan Otok Posip 2017
With fruit grown on the island of Hvar in the Dalmatia region of Southern Croatia, the Zlatan Otok Posip is made from the Posip grape, an indigenous variety found almost exclusively in Croatia. Bright and straw yellow in color, this is a ripe, refreshing wine with aromas of nectarine, pineapple, and lemon. On the palate, the Zlatan Otok Posip exhibits flavors of fresh apricot, pear, light anise tones, and a slightly herbal quality, with a mouthwateringly acidic finish.
This energizing and lip-smacking wine would be a perfect summer aperitif, served chilled with appetizers like olives, pickled vegetables, tomato tarts, or shellfish such as lobster or scallops.
Beginning with a family farm in 1986 where grapes were only a small part of their production, the Zlatan Otok winery has received numerous accolades and awards from international wine competitions since their first release of their own wine in 1989. The island of Hvar, where the grapes for this wine hail from, is a beautiful oceanfront paradise. However, the vines for these grapes are grown in slightly less hospitable conditions, on steep slopes where all pruning, picking, and planting has to be done by hand, and yields are extremely low. This is certainly a labor of love for the family, but one that has proved to be successful, as their wines are some of the most sought after in Croatia.
Cattunar Malvasia 2017
The Cattunar family have been making wine in this part of western Istria for generations and even continued to grow grapes during the difficult years of communist rule when private enterprise was not permitted. Franco Cattunar and his wife Vesna currently work one of the region’s largest wineries with a total of 56 hectares and they have recently been joined by their daughter Nicole and son Edi who represent the next generation and the future of the estate.
This classic Croatian Malvasia is made with grapes grown on the Cattunar estate’s prized Zmergo vineyard which offers a snapshot of Istra’s four key soil types: white marl, terra rossa or red clay, and black and grey sandstone. This region enjoys abundant sunshine during the growing season which helps the grapes to achieve optimal ripeness, while proximity to the glittering Adriatic sea provides cooling breezes which preserve acidity and ensure the finished wines are well-balanced and elegant.
Pour yourself a glass of this crisp white wine and you’ll immediately notice the intense stone fruit aromas and hints of acacia blossom, vanilla and hay. On the palate there’s plenty of freshness, a well-rounded mouthfeel and a rich white peach and tropical fruit flavours. Try serving it alongside pan-fried sea bream or a generous platter of fruit de mer to emphasise the light and breezy character of this easy-going wine.
Kozlovic Malvazija 2018
Reminiscent of the fresh sea breeze which blows along the Istrian coast, this pretty white is made with local favorite Malvasia which has been grown here for centuries. The small Kozlovic winery has been in the hands of the same family since 1904 and is currently run by Gianfranco and Antonella Kozlovic. The couple are passionate about combining Croatia’s stunning indigenous varieties with modern winemaking techniques to show to the world the incredible potential of Istrian wines.
In the glass the first aromas to emerge are citrusy lemon, pear and crisp green apple followed by hints of dried sage and oregano. On the palate richer fruits like peaches, apricots and pineapples come to the fore along with a harmonising salty minerality from the limestone vineyard soils.
The vibrant personality of this white make it ideal to sip in the warmer months alongside a platter of fresh seafood or simply savour by the pool. This Malvasia is also ideal to serve well chilled paired with creamier dishes like an elegant prawn risotto or pasta carbonara thanks to the bright acidity which helps to revive and cleanse your palate after each bite.