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A taste of Croatia: 15 exciting wines to seek out

Sponsored Guide

Croatia’s remarkable potential can be savoured within just one of its wine regions, Istria and Kvarner, where the range of grape varieties, both indigenous and international, produce many fascinating and engaging wine styles, such as the 15 recommended here...

This article is part of a Decanter guide produced in cooperation with Vinistra, association of winegrowers and winemakers of Istria, and the Croatian National Tourist Board.

A taste of Croatia: 15 great wines from Istria and Kvarner to try

The wines below have been selected by Caroline Gilby MW.

White wines

Istria white wines

Kabola, Amfora Malvazija, Istria 2019 | 96 points

Intriguing and inviting nose with lemon pith, quince and meadowsweet. Lovely fruit – white peach, lemon barley water and chestnut honey. Vibrant with a stony, sapid finish. So impressive.

Drink 2023-2028 | Alcohol 14% 

Stockist: Croatian Fine Wines £33 (2016 vintage)

Pilato, Malvazija Sur Lie, Istria 2019 | 96pts

Mid-gold colour. Complex with fine, creamy, ripe pear and Mirabelle notes on the nose. A beautifully made and very satisfying wine with lovely fruit, intense but not heavy, and an elegant, sleek, lingering, saline finish.

Drink 2023-2025 | Alc 13% 

See more: vina-pilato.com

Rossi, Templara Malvazija, Istria 2021 | 95pts

Very zesty, fresh and lemony, with aromas of apple blossom, honeysuckle and ginger. Super precision and harmony with delicate hints of lemon and peach, and an appetising hint of salinity. Wonderful balance and great length.

Drink 2023-2026 | Alc 13% 

See more: vinarossi.com

Istria white wine recommendations

Damjanić, Akacija Malvazija, Istria 2020 | 93pts

This acacia-aged wine has a lovely white Rhône-like complexity – camomile, chestnut honey, lemon zest and a lightly herby character. Lovely intensity with real purity of fruit on the palate, supple acidity and great length.

Drink 2023-2026 | Alc 13.6% 

Stockist: Croatian Fine Wines £25 (2016)

Deklić, Malvazija Istarska, Istria 2020 | 93pts

A tawny-gold wine with an expressive nose of tangerine, peach and honeysuckle. To taste there’s good complexity, salted lemon and yellow plum and a textured, mineral finish.

Drink 2023-2027 | Alc 14% 

See more: vina-deklic.com

Kozlović, Selekcija Malvazija, Istria 2021 | 93pts

Hand-harvested fruit from three selected vineyards go into this super-fine, expressive wine showing aromas of acacia and clover honey, then white peach and green apple fruit. Beautifully poised, elegant palate and a long, mineral finish.

Drink 2023-2025 | Alc 13.5% 

POA: Hallgarten Wines

istria white wines to try

Milan Budinski, OMO Malvazija Istarska, Istria 2020 | 92pts

Honeysuckle and camomile on the nose, with candied peel and salted lemon. Lots of ripeness and intensity, stone fruit, lemon oil and spice all supported by juicy acidity.

Drink 2023-2026 | Alc 14% 

Contact: budinskimilan@gmail.com

Agrolaguna, Festigia Malvazija Istarska, Istria 2022 | 92pts

Expressive, with minty hints and green herbs, fresh pear and stone fruit on the nose. To taste there’s fresh melon, apple, lemon zest and an almost steely vibrancy backed by fine acidity.

Drink 2023-2025 |  Alc 13.5% 

Stockist: Lea & Sandeman £12.50 (2021) 

PZ Vrbnik, Zlatna Vrbnička Žlahtina, Krk, Kvarner 2022 | 90pts

Fine and inviting on the nose with delicate spice and tangerine notes. It’s crisp and bright, refreshing to drink with saline, linear, lightly peachy fruit. A classic example of the Žlahtina grape.

Drink 2023-2025 | Alc 11% 

See more: pz-vrbnik.hr

istria rose and red wines

Rosé wine

In Sylvis, Florens Rosé, Istria 2022 | 89pts 

Mid-pink, crisp but fruity rosé produced from direct-pressed Teran grapes, with lots of bright red berry and sour cherry flavours, and lightly floral overtones – which inspired the name ‘Florens’.

Drink 2023-2024 | Alc 12.5% 

See more: insylvis.com

Red wines

Benvenuti, Livio Teran, Istria 2019 | 96pts

Nikola and Albert Benvenuti named their impressive new Teran red in honour of their father. It’s an inky dark wine with aromas of cocoa, damson and spice. There’s great fruit intensity with notes of bilberry and black cherry, harmonious oak, fine acidity and polished tannins.

Drink 2023-2030 | Alc 13.5% 

Stockist: Howard Ripley £21.85

Fakin, Teran, Istria 2022 | 95pts

Rich, deep purple-black wine with scents of black cherry, spice, damson and loganberry. To taste there’s lovely, generous, youthful fruit with masses of crushed bilberry and raspberry, and firm but grainy tannins suggesting ageing potential.

Drink 2023-2027 | Alc 14% 

See more: fakinwines.com

istria red and sweet wine

Medea, Punta Greca, Istria 2019 | 93pts

Super-smart and remarkably elegant 100% Merlot from the seashore on the far southern tip of Istria. It shows how well this grape can do in Istria with its plush bramble fruit supported by vivid freshness and fine-grained tannins. Still a baby, so give it time.

Drink 2025-2030 | Alc 14% 

See more: @puntagreca

Matošević, Grimalda Red, Istria 2019 | 91pts

Light-pink red from a remote, hilly single vineyard. It blends plummy Merlot with the raspberry freshness of Teran and a little Cabernet Sauvignon to give a crunchy, bright palate with supple, grainy tannins.

Drink 2023-2026 |  Alc 13%

Stockists: Barrique Fine Wines, Kernowine, Latitude Wine, Liberty Wines, Old Bridge Wine Shop, Seven Cellars, The Organic Sommelier £26 – £31.99

Vina Franković, Luna d’Oro Muškat Momjanski, Istria 2021 95 

Gorgeous sweet wine from passito grapes dried for three months on hay. It leads with an inviting bouquet of jasmine, lemon blossom and golden sultanas, then a lusciously silky palate with notes of rosewater and quince, all finely balanced by crisp acidity. Lingering finish.

Drink 2023-2025 | Alc 11% 

See more: frankovic.hr

Related articles

Croatia wine guide: Istria and its key grape varieties

Croatia guide: wine regions beyond Istria

Back to the Croatia wines hub page

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