It’s been a long time since I blogged about a wine from Croatia. Not surprisingly as very little is seen in the UK. Croatia is one of the countries that emerged after the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, but there’s a long history of winemaking in the area, dating back to the ancient Greeks or even before. However, sadly, the Balkans war at the end of the last century was devastating for the region and many parts are still struggling to recover.
Vines are grown in several distinct regions of the country with international varieties such as Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot widely planted alongside a number of interesting local varieties including Plavac Mali (related to Zinfandel), Graševina (perhaps better known as Welschriesling – which is very different from Riesling) and the grape that prompted this Blog, Malvazija Istarska.
This latter variety is mainly found in the coastal vineyards along the Adriatic, particularly in the Istrian peninsula bordering Slovenia and just across from northern Italy. Here, there’s a favourable Mediterranean climate, ideal for grape growing but also perfect for attracting many tourists (one reason why not much Croatian wine is exported!)
Viña Laguna’s Malvazija (Wine Society, £7.95) is a lovely, elegant, aromatic dry white, good for drinking on its own or with delicate fish dishes – nothing too big or heavy, though, as you wouldn’t want to overpower the delicacy of flavour. The same variety is also grown in north-east Italy, but there are many other grapes with a similar name – often spelt with an s rather than a z, which are unrelated and different.
I suspect that Croatia is never going to be a major supplier of wine to the UK market, but, if you see a bottle, or visit the area, I can certainly recommend that you give it a try.