Tasting Degrassi at the Top of Istria

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe

The Degrassis in their awards room.

In the very top northwest corner of Istria is a small little tip that juts out in to the Adriatic and is where the two very small towns of Bašanija and and Savudrija.

Bomarchese Malvazija

It is here that the winery of Degrassi calls home. Of course, they don’t grow any of their vines here, those 15 hectares are around Buje which is much further inland to the east. But here are their cellars and tasting room. They have been doing business in this location since 2006, although the company has been around for the last 11 years. After a brief glance around, it is easily seen that the family has very good taste with everything appointed in handmade furniture and nice, dark fixtures. It’s also here that we learned the difference between Refošk and Teran, which are the same grape. Is the stem of the vine is red, is is Refošk. If the stem is green, it’s Teran. There were also some geographical distinctions in the past that have since faded away, leaving just the confusion about the name and the fact that Degrassi is the only maker of Teran in Istria that we found, who actually call it Refošk. So with that cleared up, let’s talk about the wines.

Tasting outdoor seating

We started with the Bomarchese 2003, which is comprised of Malvazija. The nose on it is extremely meaty, mostly from the oak aging it receives. It smells something like prosciutto, which we feel is nearly always a good thing. These aromas do come in to the body and blend with flavors that are predominantly oaky in nature. The body is smooth, but can sit a bit heavy in the mouth, but that gives way to a smooth finish.

We quickly tasted the Malvazija 2006 for comparison and found it to have a smoother nose and some chestnut aromas to it. The body is smooth and the finish rather dry. It’s a rather interesting wine overall as it’s quite different from any other Malvazija that we’ve tasted.

For reds, we started with the 2006 and the 2005 Barrique Degrassi’s Refošk. The 2006 is very earthy in its base. The body is very bright though, which is atypical of other Terans/Refošks that we’ve had and the body is very dry. In comparison, the 2005 has a similar nose to the 2006, but naturally with a bit more oak, due to the time spent in the barrel–18 months to be exact. The body is much, much smoother and you can taste a good deal more meat to it. The finish on this one lingers for a good deal of time, which we were pleased with. Degrassi told us that they believe the wine should be aged for a minimum of five years and we would definitely agree, although base upon the two years it already had, it may even be able to stand a few more years and still be optimal.

Their Rosé

We closed out the tasting with their Cabernet Sauvignon 2005. It’s a relatively dry example of the varietal in this region. It even has a dry nose to it. The body however opens up to some really great dark cherry flavors and the finish pulls the dryness all the way through to the end. It’s tasty wine, albeit a bit light for those who really thirst for heavy body of California Cab Sauvs.

While a bit out of the way from the rest of the wineries, Degrassi are making some good examples of the wines in the area and worth a visit for those putting their way along the Vinska Cesta in the area. Their tasting room alone is worth the trouble to see, as it’s quite classy.