Croatian wine has been produced since 2200 B.C. when local tribes produced wine over a thousand years in the area now known as Dalmatia. After Greek colonization around 390 B.C. helped spread the pursuit of winemaking, the launch of Christianity under the Roman Empire in the 4th century A.D. firmly rooted production of the vine for sacramental purposes.
Winemaking flourished in Croatia for centuries. However, it was curbed by a multitude of events—Phylloxera, Ottoman invasions, world wars, the rise of communism and, most recently, conflicts between former Yugoslav republics.
In the early 1900's, a modest family production and tradition of grape growing began with just 3 hectares in Istria. Having been motivated to follow in these footsteps, 4th generation owner, Gianfranco 'Franco' Kozlović, became one of the founders of the Istrian wine revolution.
Istria lies slightly below Italy and Slovenia in the northwest corner of Croatia. Once part of the Venetian Empire, it’s often called “The Other Tuscany.” Castles and fortresses sit atop rolling hills and Italian is spoken in many homes. The cuisine is predominately similar to that of Italy, utilizing local foodstuffs like olive oil, white truffles and of course, pršut (ham). The wine region includes the islands and area surrounding the Kvarner Gulf, located between the Istrian peninsula and the mainland. The area makes super fresh, seafood-friendy white wines made from Malvasija Istriana and Žlahtina. Red wines are made from Teran, as well as a number of international varieties.
Gianfranco was the first to introduce cold fermentation to Istria, with the first commercially significant grape harvests in 1993 and 1994. Today, Franco is the largest private producer of Malvasia in Istria, and a very outspoken crusader for quality. His vineyards dot the hillsides of northern Istria, where his modern winery, Kozlović, is located on the north side of the beautiful Momjan Valley. It is right next to the Slovenian and northern Italian border, just a few kilometres east of Buje, not far from the Adriatic coast.
Here Malvazija vineyards stand like sentinels not far from the rugged, salty shore and then rise up the rustic highlands of the interior, where they perch alongside olive groves, acacia trees and truffle oak forests in the region’s assortment of red, white, brown and grey soils – each to subtly different effect.
Franco and his Malvasija were proclaimed to be the best white wine in Croatia in 1997 by Vinovita fair and things have only improved since then. We have sampled his wines for a few years, but with this vintage we happily decided to bring Croatian wine into our portfolio.
"The 2013 vintage has a deep, vibrant and lemon-yellow color. Scents of ripe fruit, white peach, nectarine and plantains that lead to toasted and fresh bread. These flavors are followed by herbal notes of grass and favourable citruses assuring the impression of freshness. On the palate, the 2013 has a multitude of layers even more present than on the nose: at the beginning, the wine gives herbal freshness with grapefruit and other citrus fruits. In the middle - creamy, full and vivacious, typical for fully ripe wine. Finish is salty in a way, pleasantly bitter (marcona almonds), returning the flavours of grapefruit and other citruses. When poured into a glass, the wine develops more and more up to half an hour after the opening, which means its aging potential is longer than previous vintages." - Franco
The unusual label stems from the aspiration to graphically represent the Sun, soil, labour, tradition, love and passion of an unknown, young wine producer with a vision. The label shows two friends drinking to life, an image from an old family photograph, who figure as a symbol of enjoying wine, friendship and positive energy that wine makes.
Try with Scampi risotto, mushrooms risotto, white fish, salmon, shells – St Jacques. Pasta with sea food, chicken with creamy sauces, grilled vegetables, "fuži" with lighter sauces. White meats work well too.