The Indigenous Grapes of Croatia: Teran

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Teran is a red grape and wine variety, in Croatia mostly found in western Istria. It is a traditional variety that has been cultivated in the area for centuries, and still remains the most common red grape variety in Istria. The tale of its name, origin, protection and international relations between Croatia, Slovenia and Italy is a very long one. What it comes down to is that, due to Slovenian protection on the European level of a wine that is made from an entirely different variety (Refošk, which they erroneously call “Teran”), Croatian winemakers are no longer allowed to call their wines teran since 2013. Luckily, you can still enjoy older vintages and hopefully Bruxelles will sort the mess out soon enough, so we can enjoy Teran made in Istria “legally”.

Teran wine made from the Teran grapes in the western Istria is a ruby red, almost purple red wine. The quality of the wine depends greatly on the location and the conditions in the vineyard. It requires a lot of sun (especially in the late summer, because it’s picked unusually late), not a lot of water and good timing when the grapes are fully ripe. If those conditions are met, what you get is a ruby-red, almost purple wine of a typical, fruity aroma that is easy to recognize, and has hints of berries and pepper, unusually high acidity and high tannins and not too high alcohol content: 12 – 13%. Usually enjoyed as a young wine, as the traditional wisdom is that it does not age too well, rarely aged outside of the bottle it is served alongside red meat, “istarski pršut” (dried ham), strong cheeses and game dishes. The recommendation is to serve it at almost 20 °C, to allow it to show its full potential. Teran wine is often used to make blends with other varieties, and recently producers have started creating excellent rose wines and sparkling wine from Teran grapes (notably, the Peršurić family).

Sensationally, Veralda Istrian 2015, a wine whose label says it’s made from the Refošk variety, although it really is Teran (as we told you, the story of names is a mess), was at a recent Decanter rating given the title “Platinum best in show” in the category of reds 15+ GBP. So, if you get a chance to try that wine, don’t miss it! Other notable producers are Moreno Coronica, Roxanich, Romeo Licul (from the eastern coast of Istria, unlike the others), Kozlović, Kabola, Trapan and Cattunar. And, a pro-tip for the end: if someone offers you the so-called “supa istriana”, take it, it’s not really soup, and yes – it has to do with Teran!


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