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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.
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.
Iuris Saltwater Sauvignon Blanc 2018
As refreshing as a summer dip in the sea, this featherlight Sauvignon Blanc exudes lemony freshness, salty minerality and hints of elderberries on the nose. Take a sip and you’ll immediately feel energized by the vibrant acidity and lively citrus flavours which make this an excellent match for scallops, pan-fried white fish or creamy risottos. Thanks to the vivacious personality of this white, you can even serve it alongside tricky ingredients like asparagus or artichokes which can be very difficult to pair with wine.
This versatile and gastronomic Sauvignon Blanc is the work of Iuris Winery based in the Danube region of Croatia. Although the winery itself only dates back to 1977, many of the vineyards on the site were planted in 1910. Around 85% of the vineyards are dedicated to red grape varieties with the rest planted with Sauvignon Blanc and the indigenous Graševina grape.
The winery harvests the Sauvignon Blanc grapes for this wine just before full maturity to preserve freshness and create a vibrant, clean style. To provide balance to the crisp acidity and a rounded mouthfeel, Iuris Winery ferment 15% of the Sauvignon Blanc grapes in large 500 litre barrels which are made out of American and Slavonian oak.
Zlatan Otok Posip 2018
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.
Kozlovic Valle 2018
The boutique Kozlovic winery has been in the hands of the namesake family since 1904 and today it is run by the talented husband and wife team of Gianfranco and Antonella Kozlovic. The duo are passionate about combining Croatia’s stunning indigenous varieties with modern winemaking techniques to showcase the incredible potential of Istrian wines to wine lovers all over the globe.
The couple’s vibrant Valle white is a skillful combination of the indigenous Croatian grape Istrian Malvasia and the international favourite, Sauvignon Blanc. On the nose there is an explosion of bright citrus zest, ripe pears, and dried sage, while the first sip reveals a mouthwatering freshness, light body, and long-lasting white peach and lemon flavours. There’s also an underlying mineral or flinty streak which reminds of the taste of the seasalt in the air from the nearby Istrian coast.
The bright character of this wine makes it an excellent partner for light, summery dishes like a flavoursome seafood paella, a creamy prawn risotto, or a simple and generous platter of seafood. It also makes for a stunning aperitif served al fresco and well-chilled along with some simple canapes, olives, and salted almonds.