Malvazija is the most sold Croatian restaurant wine in terms of bottles. The Malvazija of leading Istrian producers is the most sought Croatian wine, often already unavailable in February or March, soon after they hit the market. Thus it is quite logical that the En Primeur Malvazija brought together almost all of the Croatian wine world. Arriving to present the new harvest were all important Istrian winemakers except Coronica and Clai who never take part in En Primeur, together with important distributers, media representatives, even leading domestic sommeliers such as Decanter judges Siniša Lasan and Mario Meštrović. The Emerald Hall was literally too small for visitors.
This was one of the toughest harvests of the century. Istria received in September 282 millimeters of rain per square meter, the most since measurements are kept, which means whoever did not harvest before the downpour, could not make a good wine. And those who did earlier, often did not achieve optimal ripeness. Generally speaking, 2017 Malvazijas are especially salty, fresh, aromatic but with a very thin body.
From the thirty samples we tasted, the mighty White and Gray Land by Franco Cattunar are at the forefront, as if they are from another harvest, then the standard Kozlović Malvazija which always retains the high level of quality, the Laguna Festigia which presented the benefits of careful selection in such a complicated harvest and Fakin Malvazija, simply endlessly charming. We must also mention the Dobravec Sonata, unusually substantial for last year’s harvest.
Besides the young Malvazijas, we also tasted some other wines worthy of attention and purchase. Matošević white Grimalda 2016 is still overly barrique, but will develop into a large hedonistic terroir wine, just like the Laguna Akacija 2015 and Vižinada 2016. Medea Chardonnay 2017 is unusually good beyond the context of the tough harvest, representing probably the best value for money of all new Istrian wines (it will cost around 40 kuna).
Franković Sauvignon is elegant, grassy and floral, while the Banko Malvazija 2016, winner of a Decanter gold, is the most pleasant surprise of the Emerald Hall tasting. Banko Wines are not sold beyond Istria. Despite the tough harvest, Istrian Malvazijas will again fulfil their basic market function, successfully accompanying the tourism season. And we will revisit the few truly serious labels in a few months, then in autumn, then next year… Really good Malvazijas age really good.
Translated from Plava Kamenica.