Europe Spring 2024: Istria wineries

by | May 31, 2024 | Food & Drink, International Travel, Travel

Istria has a really interesting wine industry with a mix of international grapes (cabernet sauvignon, merlot) and locally unique varieties (teran, malajvasia). In addition, some spots have a tradition of of grape skin contact for their white wines, which has become popular as ‘orange wine’ in the last decade. Besides trying wine at restaurants we also visited four wineries on our trip.

Stopped in without a reservation after our lunch at Agroturizam Stefanic nearby. We didn’t want a tour, just a standing tasting, which they offered as 2€ a taste. No tasting fees were charged when we bought two bottles.

Eric’s choices:

  • Rose 2023. Lovely red fruit (cherry), med light acidity, medium long finish.
  • Malajvasia 2023 – fresh, pear, lime, rocky mineral. Honeysuckle finish. Lovely.
  • Livor with oak – 2022- more vanilla and cream, some mineral. Refined, long finish with a light bitterness. Good acidity.
  • Corona grande – dessert! Peach and nectarine, sweet pea. Good acidity balanced with sweetness

Leandra’s choices:

  • Caldierosso 2021 – blend of 4, intense black pepper nose, dry finish.
  • Livio Teran 2019 – more cherry than the blend, with deep color and strong tannins.

We tasted outside around a barrel and while here we met an American family on a sic month sabbatical. The atmosphere was also improved by watching the resident pups playfight! This was a great stop, well recommended.


Vino Matiška
Tucked in toward the back of a small village, we were glad that we had both GPS and several well-placed signs to help us find this spot! We had contacted them beforehand for a visit and the owners were pleasant and chatty when we arrived. All the wines we tried were from the 2022 vintage.

  • Rose – rose, cherry, pepper, smoke. Good acidity, a little sweetness.
  • Malajvasia- med acidity. Medium mineral, apple, fig? Med dry, med finish with some bitterness.
  • Muskat Zuti (yellow) – honeysuckle dominant, a little peach, a little vanilla.quite light, quick finish. Very summery.
  • Merlot – also light. Med acidity, some green bitterness. Violet, rose, cranberry.
  • Teran – light! Banana, dark cherry. Summery.

Ghira Winery
Just a few minutes up the road from downtown Novigrad, the property here was peaceful and green with views of both grape vines and olive trees. The owner clearly has a passion for what he is making. We tried:

  • Olive oil – fresh and green, blended from 4 olive varietals in October 2023.
  • Malajvasia – orange style! On skins for 5 days, so has more tannin and richness, made in steel tank. Balanced acidity.
  • Malajvasia Madura 2018 – 20 days skin contact, a little later harvest with fewer grapes, made in clay amphora. Very bronze orange! Surprisingly smooth, lovely acidity. Stewed fruit, stoney mineral. Feels like it has oak due to the tannins, somewhat chardonnay like, would pair well with chicken and salads.
  • Merlot/Cab Sauvignon – 30 days on skins, 2 yrs Croatian oak. Light, red fruit (cherry), some spice (mace), a little smoke. Chewy, Nice acidity.
  • Muscat – no skin contact. 2022. Surprisingly dry, lots of mineral, floral nose.

Vina Poletti
Our last wine tasting of the trip, we enjoyed talking with the owner about their different styles, and as with all the others, went home with some bottles. This was the only place that charged us a tasting fee (7€ pp) that wasn’t comped with bottle purchase.

  • 2023 Malajvasia – dry but fruity 2023
  • 2022 Malajvasia- less floral, still dry. More fruit.
  • Muscat – rose -2023- good body, apple, red fruit, light creamy finish. Good acidity. Different
  • 2019 Teran – 2 yrs oak. Soft, dark purple color. Baking spices and plum.
  • 2018 Merlot – baking spices! Lots of blackberry fruit, black pepper. soft finish. Needs air! Decant.
  • 2017 Cab Sauvignon – 3.5 yrs oak.. beautiful fruity nose. Lighter body than Merlot.

Our Itinerary

2024 Trips

San Diego, CA (Jan)
Sarasota, FL (Feb)
Madrid, Spain (Mar)
Valencia, Spain (Mar+Apr)
Palma, Mallorca (Apr)
Croatia (May)
Long Island, NY (July)
Faroe Islands (Aug)
London, UK (Sept)
Bari, Italy (Sept)
Rome, Italy (Oct)
Frankfurt, Germany (Oct)
Grand Rapids, MI (Nov)

2022 Trips

Florida (Feb)
NC Mountains (Apr)
Washington DC (Apr)
Valencia, Spain (May)
Hilton Head, SC (May)
Pacific NW (Jun)
Long Island (Jul)
Florida (Sept)
Chicago (Sept)
Poland (Sept)
NC Mountains (Nov)
Euro Xmas Markets (Dec)