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Wines from Istria in Croatia, part 2: Acacia and Ivica Matosevic

>> Saturday, May 07, 2011

Ivica Matosevic is the first one to make wine in his family. “You can’t make a lot of money in wine” he says, but it is a nice job! And people like my wines, think they are very drinkable.” He used to work as a landscape architect and 1996 was his first vintage. He is, as most producers in Istria, specialized in malvazia. But he also makes good red wines from the local Teran. Like malvazija, this is a grape with a strong personality and he prefers to blend it with Merlot to get a better balance.

His bestseller is the clean and fresh malvazija Alba. It is bottled early after fermentation on stainless steel tanks. “I want to keep the freshness, this should be an easy-drinking product”, he says. It expresses beautifully the fresh and floral character of malvazia. There is a pleasant bitterness at the finish, also very typical.

Another typical aroma of the malvasia is the acacia flower. Maybe that is why Istrian producers are experimenting with ageing in acacia wood. “We have a local cooper who works with acacia wood, it is quite hard to work with and it gives a strong taste”, says Ivica. “I use 15 % of acacia barrels but never new wood. The acacia gives smoky notes to the wine and also some honey but it allows the wine to keep the extraordinary freshness that Malvazia is capable of.”


Vinologue May 09, 2011 5:06 AM  

Nice write up. That acacia adds an interesting element, doesn't it?

Just a small note on spelling (and everyone does this) in that in Istria, it's "malvazija" and down in Southern Dalmatia, it's "malvasia". It's a silly little spelling difference, but they are different grapes and admittedly we have to constantly remember "in the south, it's the 's'"

Per and Britt, BKWine May 09, 2011 11:14 AM  

Hi, Thanks for the comment. Spelling is always difficult, and it's not easy to be exact!

We did look specifically on this to make sure we did not mix things up. Our conclusion was that all three spellings are used in Istria.

Take for instance Kozlovic, on of the Istrian wine producers. On that page he uses all three spellings for the same wine...!

Malvasia (in the menu), malvazia (in the grape composition) and malvazija (on the label.

In "Part 1" we explained this and then we just stuck (mostly) to the one that seemed most frequent. Perhaps we should have chosen another...

Vinologue May 09, 2011 7:13 PM  

Right, you'll different spellings as there are three different dialects in Croatian and declensions for the language can heavily alter words as well, but the official, registered names are Malvazija in Istria and Malvasia in Southern Dalmatia. It could be the case that a grower could have both of these grapes, but we've yet to encounter that.

The importers will often mix them up in English and the winemakers as well, when they try to translate pages to English, like the one you linked to. If you look at the Croatian version of the page, you'll see that the spelling is consistent.

It definitely gets quite screwy...

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