If you heard the name Domaine Koquelicot, it’d probably take some convincing to have you believe that we are talking about the Croatian winery. Well, we are: it’s a winery located in Gračišće, Istria, owned by the spouses Olivier Ertzbischoff and Jacqueline Marovac. Mr. Ertzbischoff (not German; another misleading name in this story!) is a retired medical doctor from Burgundy, wine lover, and his wife is also a medical doctor born in Rijeka, Croatia, who’s lived all around the world and has finally decided to live permanently in France. And Istria.
They own a house in Gračišće, where they spend half of their time, and they have decided to start a winery there, with the goal of making French-style burgundy type wines in the Istrian peninsula using the highest quality Istrian grapes. And that’s exactly what they started doing in 2012. They don’t own vineyards; rather they buy grapes from the vineyards below Motovun and from the Istrian west coast region. They don’t even own a basement: they rent that, but not your regular, run of the mill wine basement, but a portion of the basement of the 14th century Austro-Hungarian country house, castle Belaj!
Mr. Ertzbischoff used his bonds of friendships with French winemakers and oenologists to help them produce Burgundian style wines in combination with Istrian terroir. Their wines are aged in oak barrels delivered straight from Burgundy for them, from the Francois Freres cooperage. They make wines using only two varieties: chardonnay and malvazija, and they bottle several various labels of wines.
Santa Chiara is an elegant blend of 80% malvazija and 20% chardonnay, one of the stars of their cellar. Epicuria is pure Istrian West Coast chardonnay, vinified in oak for 10 months, the wine they believe should age really well and get better with time. Fugaz is varietal malvazija, something they didn’t plan to do, but it’s still here, and it’s really good! Belairga is a mix of Chardonnay from the east and west coasts of Istria, vinified in French burgundy oak barriques for 10 months. They also produce sparkling wine from the hand-picked finest chardonnay grapes, both versions made using the classical method of secondary fermentation in the bottle, both versions extremely low on residual sugar, with Luna having 5,8 g/l, and Kontempo only 2g/l!
Their house in Gračišće, near the St. Vid Church, has the tasting room in the konoba, and you’re welcome to make an appointment and visit during the milder months in the year. And let’s just go back to the name for a second, as it is a specific, adapted version of the French word that means poppy – the flower that you can see on all their labels as well.