Board your chartered motor or sailing yacht in Rijeka, the third largest city in Croatia and chosen to be the European Capital of Culture in 2020. Take a day or two to enjoy the city and see the sights.
And then, lets begin our Fine Wine ... with a View tour in Northern Croatia, the region of Istria, often called 'the Croatian Tuscany'. The landscape may be similar but its white, not red wine, that rules as 80% of the wine produced here is white.
Important to note on your tour: Istrian grape varieties and hectares - White Malvazija Istarka (1,688ha), Chardonnay (130ha), Muškat (90ha), Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Trebbiano Toscano, Zlahtina Red Merlot (314ha), Teran (230ha), Cabernet Sauvignon (187ha), Refošk (115ha), Borgonja (51ha), Cabernet Franc (51ha), Hrvatica, Barbera, Pinot Noir, Syrah. The most popular is malvazija (malvasia) but you should also try the taste of (red) teran (terrano), muškat (muscat), cabernet sauvignon and merlot.
We will travel from South to North and stop to visit 6 noted wineries. Most Istrian winemakers are boutique wineries and do not produce enough wine to export internationally to large markets. So, the best way to taste Istrian wine is to visit the source! Lets begin at the WINE STATION TRAPAN in the town of Šišan.
Must try wines: Che, Rubi, Terra Mare, Nigra Virgo Revolution, Shuluq, Ponente and Uroboros.
After Trapan, head off to MATOŠEVIĆ WINES in the town of Sveti Lovreč. The capo di tutti capi Ivica Matošević was one of the first winemakers to experiment with aging Malvasia in acacia rather than oak. The Matošević motto... "Winemaking is a dream with a deadline".
Award winning wines you must try: Alba Antiqua Malvasia Istarska 2009, Grimalda White 2009 and 2010, and Grimalda Red 2010.
Now you will continue north to the small ROXANICH WINERY in Kosinožići, specializing in 'orange' wines, "which get their color from long skin contact and deep oxidized flavors from barrel aging up to three years and beyond".
New releases: Roxanich Draga – Pinot Blanc 2015 (skin contact 2 days, stainless steel) Roxanich Mirna – Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (skin contact 2 days, stainless steel) Roxanich Issa – Bugava 2015 (skin contact 2 days, stainless steel) Roxanich SoRelle 2013 – Chardonnay (skin contact 2 days, stainless steel).
Travel again along the lovely Adriatic coastline up to the CLAI WINERY AND WINE CELLAR in the town of Krasica whose "skin-contact whites are one of the pinnacles of the ‘orange wine’ style – few European winemakers have managed to achieve this level of finesse, balance and pure drinkability".
Try these Clai wines: Ottocento White – a coupage of Istrian Malvazia, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris; Ottocento Red (black) – a coupage of Istrian Terrano with the red stalk, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot; Sveti Jakov, a pure indigenous Istrian Malvazia; Brombonero – Terrano or Refosco/Refošk, and Taselo, a dessert wine.
Your next disembarkation will take you to two wineries, not far from each other. The first is the family owned KABOLA WINERY in the town of Buje, one of Croatia's most famous wineries, and noted for wines "fermented with the grape skins on in an amphora, or a clay pot".
In 2013 CNN honored Kabola as among the top 10 summer food destinations in the world. While there, try the award winning Kabola Teran, Kabola Cabernet Sauvignon, Kabola Merlot and the Muscat Momjanski.
The last winery on your tour, also in Buje, is the KOZLOVIĆ WINERY, headed by Gianfranco Kozlović who may have single-handedly kick-started the revival of Malvazija as a quality wine. Now the Malvazija Istarka is unchallenged as Croatia's favorite white wine. Paolo Basso named the Kozlović Winery as having one of the greatest wine cellars in the world.
A winery tour of Croatia is a perfect way to spend a week on a luxury motor or sailing yacht. One can visit almost all the great vineyards by boat, up and down the beautiful and endless coast, on the seaside, just inland, or on magnificent islands. It may take more than one vacation to visit the best of the best, so we hope to see you soon!