Croatia: Delicious new territory

On my way to a tasting of Wines of Croatia, I stopped for lunch at a gastropub near the Barbican called The Jugged Hare, specializing in game and other hearty red-blooded food and a superb, wide-ranging wine list, a lot of it by the glass. I asked the waiter for whatever light, dry white he thought was best, as long as it wasn’t Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. He came back a minute later with “the wine we all liked best at the staff tasting this morning, we’re adding it to the list.” It was Kozlovic Malvasia 2011, from. . . Croatia. Lovely, lively, lightly minerally, subtle but serious enough; the flavour lingered nicely, and it was perfect with a chunky venison-grouse liver terrine.
        Over at the tasting, I met Antonella Kozlovic; the wine is from old vines in a single vineyard, and shows all that; the standard version’s pretty good too, though lighter. They also make a version aged in acacia barrels (as do a few others in the Istria region—they have a lingering taste like that of Chiclets, the candy-coated gum I chewed through childhood. Odd, for wine, but popular, they told me.) Also admirable were Malvasias from Matosevic and Agrolaguna; trying quite a few of that variety, it was obvious that oak completely flattens the interesting edginess of the wines. The simplest and cheapest were often the best.
        Another interesting white wine, from several producers, was called Grasevina, which turned out to be Welschriesling—nothing to do with real Riesling. It’s widely planted, has light floral aromas and zippy acidity, a pleasant sipping wine as made there. Like Malvasia, it’s generally considered to be an also-ran, but a goodly number of the Croatians are doing a delicious salvage job on both. Cheers!
copyright 2010-2015 by Brian St. Pierre