This heart-shaped, northwest corner of Croatia has been billed as the ‘New Tuscany’ and is home to a diverse range of exciting wines. But will they find their place on the world stage? Simon Woolf reports
Eight of the best wine buys from Istria
Misal, Prestige Extra-Brut NV*
Biscuity traditional method sparkler, with red fruits and a fine savoury finish. This Pinot Noir-Chardonnay- Malvazija blend is reminiscent of a top Franciacorta. The owners, the Peršuric sisters, are sulphur dioxide intolerant, and use very low amounts.
Price £29.95 Pacta Connect
Giorgio Clai, Sveti Jakov, Western Istria 2011
100% Malvazija, fermented on the skins for 75 days. Intense apricot skin and caramel aromas. Mouthfilling and complex, with roasted plums, dried herbs, and refreshing grip on the finish. Big but beautifully balanced, and very moreish.
Price £35.50 Pacta Connect
Klabjan, Malvazija, Istria, Slovenia 2011
Savoury style from the Kras plateau: nutty nose and a saline finish. Taut and austere with just enough creaminess to make it lovable. Made with wild yeasts and unfiltered – winemaker Uroˇs Klabjan just gives the wine ‘a place and time’.
Price £18.50 Pacta Connect, Eton Vintners
Kozlović, Santa Lucia Malvazija, Western Istria 2009
Late harvest from the hilltop ‘cru’ Santa Lucia vineyards. Full bodied, but so elegant. Oak spiciness, stewed plums and refreshing bitter finish.
Price POA Hallgarten Druitt, Novum
Kabola, Malvazija Classic, Western Istria 2012
Pretty floral nose, with hints of honeysuckle and pineapple. Very fresh, generous fruit rounded off with Malvazija’s trademark nutty bitterness. Organically certified. Excellent value.
Price £13.25 Croatian Fine Wines
Geržinić, Teran, Western Istria 2011
Mouthwatering black cherry, with wild herbs, cacao and blood orange on the nose. Firm structure and typically bracing acidity, but utterly harmonious. A wine without artifice.
Price £18.50 Pacta Connect
Piquentum, Terre 11 2011
100% Refošk, with charming soft cherry fruit and a characteristic burnt cacao note that adds richness. Lithe and accessible.
Price £20-£21.50 Eton Vintners, Loki Wine, Harvey Nichols, Pacta Connect
Matošević, Grimalda Red, Central Istria 2010
Mainly Merlot (85%), but Teran’s wildness is distinct on the nose. Fresh, with sour cherry and soft tannins, shows the potential of the Grimalda vineyard. Potential.
Price £26.40 Bancroft, Wine Bear