Istria & Kvarner

Introduction

The most exciting wine region of New Europe – this is how Istria and Kvarner are described in “Guide to Wineries and Wines of Croatia”, a wine and gourmet guide. This superlative is not hard to prove. Legend has it that the ancient Greeks from the island of Monemvasia chose Istria to promote wine culture in it. Along with vineyards, Roman emperors also planted the most precious olive groves in the Empire in Istria. Croatian wine renaissance in the early 1990s started in Istria as a clear vision of developing wine production and establishing a wine and gourmet destination. A group of young winemakers and tourism professionals designed a concept whose basis included a radically new approach to the most widespread grape varieties of the region. First of all, Malvazija Istarska. In the past this wine was produced in large quantities, without special attention, and it was sold in bulk or one-litre bottles at a cheap price. The very idea that Malvazija could be turned into a modern high quality wine in accordance with the leading trends on the global market was bold and revolutionary. The project was even more ambitious and coherent. It foresaw a modern, attractive logo design and labels, local and international advertising campaigns, promotion at big international wine and gourmet festivals, marking a network of wine roads etc. The starting point was, naturally, the surprisingly attractive new Malvazija Istarska.

malvazija

Malvazija

White grape originating on Croatia’s Istra peninsular, and now the second most planted variety in Croatia after Graševina. It produces mainly varietal wines, often with a slightly green hue and an appealing honeyed tang. The variety is also known in north-east Italy as Malvasia Istriana.

Teran

Its example was followed by the region’s native red grape variety: Teran. Until this wine revolution Teran was, like Malvazija Istarska, an underrated variety. It was an unusual folk wine with excessive acidity that was consumed in large quantities in Istrian taverns, often with added sugar to make it drinkable. The new Teran was a new success. The acidity lost its aggressiveness, the freshness was preserved, the aromas were balanced. An even bigger surprise was when a few far-sighted winemakers presented aged Terans and showed how big the potential of the grape was. Until then, Teran was usually enjoyed as a young wine in the year of the harvest and would normally be gone until the next harvest.

Teran

Teran is an indigenous Istrian wine grape variety and red wine produced by it. The main characteristics of teran are moderate amounts of sugar and very high acids, which over a year exceed 10 grams per liter. Although the same name as a wine on Kras in Slovenia (karst teran), they are two completely different wines.

teran

Details

Istria and Istrian people optimally used all the advantages that presented themselves in this big turnaround. In the first place, the very position of the northernmost peninsula in the Mediterranean, a region that connects Central Europe with the Mediterranean. The vicinity of Trieste, Venice, Zagreb, Ljubljana, Graz, Vienna and Munich is crucial. The “Mare e Monti” formula (Sea and Mountains) lies at the heart of the region’s culinary diversity. Istarian gastronomic icons led by the most appreciated white truffle and three black truffles have become a serious competition for Alba. The season of fresh truffles lasts almost the entire year in Istria. Moreover, there are premium quality olive oils that regularly win the highest ratings and awards at the most prestigious international competitions, as well as in the Flos Olei guide. Of course, the geographical position of Istria guarantees constant availability of fresh fish and seafood, while seasonal ingredients like wild asparagus or porcini mushrooms enjoy great popularity. From rustic taverns to restaurants with the first Croatian Michelin stars – the scene is growing and raises its own bar every year.

In Kvarner area, the Island of Krk has attracted special attention of the wine audience. The modern and attractively easy drinking version of the old grape variety Žlahtina is a hit among the so-called summer wines.

chard

Chardonnay

Chardonnay is one of the most famous wine grape varieties in the world. Believed to be named after the French village of Chardonnay. DNA analysis confirmed that Chardonnay originated (like many other varieties) by crossing between Pinot and Gouais Blanc. Gouais Blanc is an indigenous Croatian variety, unpopular and nearly extinct today.