“It’s still summer here” for our friend Marcy Gordon. The temperatures are mild, the trees are still green, and sweet cherry tomatoes, and vibrant bell peppers are in season. So let’s enjoy this late Californian summer with a glass of crisp Dubrovački Podrumi Malvasija: I may be saying “It’s still summer here” well into February the way things are going–but tonight we have a bit of sunny Croatia in our glass with this crisp, bright, and fresh 2015 Malvasija Dubrovačka from Dubrovački Prodrumi. It’s lemony, and slightly chalky. Immensely quaffable! Pairing great with the last of the tomatoes and some peppers. I visited Dubrovački Prodrumi just south of Dubrovnik last year on the Epic Blue Danube Road Trip. Fun Times! #croatia #malvasija #dalmatia #dubrovačkiprodrumi #dalmatianwine #winesofcroatia #bluedanubewine #wine #itsstillsummerhere Yes we agree, Croatia will always bring fond (and epic) memories to all of us! Follow Marcy on Instagram.
15 wines is a lot to get through without losing you after this sentence. However, there is a salty, tart, and often nutty line that connects them all from the Bay of Trieste down to Southern Dalmatia. These are our table wines for the summer. For the past few years, we’ve brought the Martinčič Cviček liter in from Dolenjsko (in between Zagreb and Ljubljana in Slovenia). This tongue-twisting blend of red and white grapes must be between 8.5-10% alcohol and dry by law. Now we are finally adding two more liters to round things out – the 2016 Modra Frankinja (Blaufränkisch) and 2016 Modri Pinot Rosé (Pinot Noir). They are both around 11-11.5% alcohol, incredibly low in SO2, and are impossibly fresh and full of character. Chill all three down and let them come up at the table. Roughly 2 hours West and a bit south by car and you hit Istria (Istra in Slovenia). Dominated by Malvasia Istarska, Teran and Refošk, the diversity by soil and proximity to the Adriatic is immense. Keeping with the liter theme, the 2016 Santomas LNG Refošk is our Dolcetto by the sea in that it satisfies the pizza/pasta needs but still lends itself … Continue reading The Tart, Salty and the Nutty from the other side of the Adriatic: Summer Wines from the Balkans
As a follow-up to my previous post Istria, the new Tuscany, let’s enjoy a glass of Coronica Malvasia 2015. Moreno Coronica farms 75 acres of “Terra Rossa” vineyards just outside the Istrian port town of Umag, 30 miles south of Trieste, Italy. His production is roughly 75% Malvasia, 25% Teran. He vinifies his Malvasia in stainless steel with cultured yeast at controlled temperature, followed by extensive time on the lees. While the wine is fresh and mineral, the lees provides a lovely mid-palate texture and then on the finish, there’s some saltiness reminiscent of the nearby sea. As the days are now getting longer and warmer, enjoy it with some tapas on a sunny evening.
Olive tree groves, vineyard-dotted hills, truffles and medieval hilltop towns: we’re not describing Tuscany but Istria, a heart-shaped peninsula — the largest in the Adriatic Sea — located south of Trieste. Long ruled by the Venetians and later the Hapsburgs, it is now shared by three countries: the largest part (89%) is in Croatia, the northwestern part lies in Slovenia, and a very tiny portion belongs to Italy. While they both enjoy a rich food and wine culture and a beneficial Mediterranean climate, Tuscany and Istria are not completely similar: more than 80% of Tuscany’s production is in red wine while about 80% of the wine produced in Istria is white. Its most significant grape variety is Malvasia Istriana (also the second most important Croatian white grape after Graševina). This ancient grape is believed to have been introduced by the Venetians from Greece. Young Malvasia, simply vinified in stainless steel, produces fresh and crisp delicious wines, ideal partners for grilled sea bass, squid, sardines, and langoustines from the Adriatic. On the other hand, barrel aging and a few days of skin contact can produce a more full-bodied and age-worthy style, perfect accompaniment to Istrian pasta with truffle, black risotto, and … Continue reading Istria, the new Tuscany
2014 was generally a tough vintage throughout the Istrian peninsula, including the nearly 50 km Slovenian coastline (Slovenska obala) that runs north towards Trieste. Heavy rains in August and a cold summer overall meant lower yields for everyone. However, it was still a quality vintage if you farmed well, hand picked and weren’t tied to a recipe. Such was the case with the red wines from Coronica in Croatia and the Malvazija from Santomas in Slovenia. These are also the wines they each typically make the least of anyway. Coronica’s production is mostly white and Santomas is overwhelmingly red. Coronica Crno and Gran Teran Drive about 15 minutes southeast of the coastal city of Umag (50 km south of Trieste) and follow a small road named Koreniki and you will find Moreno Coronica. Even though the land is the same, Moreno’s grandfather was Austro-Hungarian, his father was Italian, he was Yugoslavian, and now his children are Croatian. Nevertheless, he has a stone tablet from 1764 with the family name carved into it that ties it all together. Moreno Coronica Even further back, the region’s long history also includes Romans, Goths, Franks, and Bavarians. The Republic of Venice also had a … Continue reading Atypical Wines From a Tough 2014 Istrian Vintage
Bottlenotes recommends adding these three Central European wines to your repertoire. For the past decade, wines from Central and Eastern Europe have been something of a sommelier secret stateside. The names can be hard to pronounce (hárslevelű, anyone?), but the best bottles offer exceptional value and tend to work extremely well with food. Here are the three recommended wines: Samuel Tinon Furmint Birtok (Tokaj, Hungary) Sommeliers and wine insiders have been raving about furmint for years. The grape, which is commonly used to make Hungary’s famous sweet wines, also makes an intriguing dry wine with medium- to full-body and high acidity (read: an ideal wine to pair with food). Piquentum Blanc (Istria, Croatia) Croatia may have initially gained some international fame for its red wines, but many sommeliers now feel that the white Malvasia coming out of the country is some of the best representations of the grape in Europe. When made in a dry style, it makes a crisp wine with some weight in the body, similar to dry Chenin Blanc. Orgo Rkatsiteli (Kakheti, Georgia) Georgian wines can be tricky to pin down from producer to producer. Some are quite rustic and oxidative, while a growing number offer more … Continue reading 3 Wines from Central Europe You Need To Know Now
Ever wondered about the distinctive characteristics of Malvasia from Istria, Croatia? Respected Croatian wine writer Nenad Trifunović explains what to appreciate from the varietal, why Piquentum Blanc is one of his favorite examples, and the key differences between the last two vintages. Piquentum, Blanc 2014 vs. Piquentum, Blanc 2013 Soft aromas on the nose with gentle acacia and light, very mild oxidative hints from un-typical Malvasia Istriana, a clone of the varietal that is quite different from others. Different from dominant styles, Dimitri Brečević always tries to present the native and true character of Malvasia Istriana. Despite the fact that 2014 was an extremely difficult vintage, this wine shatters expectations. Although the fruity Malvasia Istriana wines can be drunk upon release, the wines benefit from a little aging to allow the bracing acidity to integrate completely. That being said, the 2014 is still green and raw in comparison to 2013. However, both wines are on the same track. The 2013 vintage exhibits the calm, supple side of Malvasia consistent with Dimitri Brečević’s sensibility. Persistent on the palate with a high level of extraction. Such beautiful simplicity makes a man wonder why not all Malvasia Istriana`s aren`t like this. Of course, … Continue reading Piquentum Blanc 2013 & 2014: A review by Nenad Trifunović
Moreno Coronica in his vineyard with the typical Istrian Terra Rosso. We have just gotten back from the Blue Danube company trip to Hungary, and there are so many highlights to share. However, this must be postponed because of the 2008 Coronica Istrian Malvazija from Istria, Croatia. Why? The reason is the season. Let me explain. Istrian Malvazija is primarily grown in Slovenia and parts of northern Italy but is most at home on the large Croatian peninsula of Istria at the north end of the Adriatic where Croatia, Slovenia and Italy meet. Wines from this grape vary greatly in style. Many are made in a fresh, reductive form, akin to the commercial white wines of New Zealand, pleasant but undistinguished. Others are macerated, or made like red wine where the skins are left with the juice during fermentation, resulting in deeply colored, even orange wines with red wine structure, tannin and all. Quality varies radically among wines of this already challenging-to-appreciate style. When bad they can be undrinkable, but the best examples are unforgettably good. In July 2009 we tasted the 2007 Coronica Malvasia during a tasting of potential imports. We all immediately noticed that there was more to … Continue reading Coronica: Full Circle
Line-up of the bottles at the Kozlovic tasting. We drive through Slovenia toward Istria, the area just below Trieste, Italy, that was part of Italy for twenty-five years until the end of World War II. As we approach Croatia, the Germanic-looking houses and barns and the typical hay drying racks–a ladderlike wooden rack open to the air but protected beneath a roof–disappear, and we no longer see maypoles in the little towns we pass. Our destination is Porec, about a third of the way down the western coast of Istria. It’s a pretty resort town with bars and restaurants lining the waterfront street on the land side, and luxury power yachts lining it on the water side. We’re here to join a group from Vinistra, the Istrian wine trade show that is going on this weekend, on a pleasure tour by boat. Our hosts are three prominent producers, Kozlovic, Degrassi, and Matosevic, who have been working together to build an Istrian wine brand closely linked to tourism in the area. As the boat makes its way south along the coast to Rovinj, a beautiful medieval fortified town crowned by a church, we sit on the top deck in the frigid … Continue reading Malvasia and more from a leader in Istrian wine making
The article in the Los Angeles Times. Yesterday’s article by Corie Brown in the L.A. Times, From Slovenia? Wild, wild wines speaks enthusiastically of wines from Slovenia, a region that “is getting hotter by the minute”. The article highlights the boldness of Slovenian winemakers, who are young, experimenting and obtaining some really good results. Revered wine expert expert Jancis Robinson is quoted to have said after her recent trip to Slovenia: “They are quite anarchic and individual in their use of oak and, to my mind, are making more distinctive wines than most of their neighbors in [Italy’s] Friuli.” Brown also spoke to Pieter Verheyde, head sommelier at Bastide in West Hollywood, one of the best restaurants in the Los Angeles area that have embraced Slovenian wines in their wine list. For Verheyde, “they’re lively and complex with unexpected flavors”, and bring diversity to Bastide’s 1,400 label list. He pairs the Santomas Malvazija with a ceviche of scallops, the Refošk with dry aged beef, and the Movia Pinot Noir with Hawaiian sea bass. It all sounds delicious. The two winemakers that the article talks most about are also the most famous ones in the US. Aleš Kristiančić from Movia is … Continue reading Slovenia? Wild, wild wines