Hard To Pick A Winner! Two Good Wines from Croatia (Istria) and France (Jurancon).


Pick A Winner! Two Good Wines from Croatia (Istria) and France (Jurancon). With France and Croatia meeting in Sunday's World Cup final, I thought I'd sneak in these two excellent wines. Hard to pick a winner! Enjoy the wines. And the match.

Matoševic Alba “Malvasia Istriana” 2016, 13%, €22.99 JJ O’Driscoll Cork, Wine Online

This wine, imported by Liberty, is Croatian and comes from the Istrian peninsula, the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea. The grape is Malvazija Istarka - easier to pronounce the version on the label (above). Malvasia  has probably been best described by Oz Clark when he said: “..the thing about Malvasia - it’s not so much a single grape as a whole family”. So you don’t get similar results.

There has been some ageing on fine lees but no oak and the winemaker, Ivica Matoševic, has been called “Croatia’s best winemaker” by no less than Steven Spurrier.

This has a quite light straw colour. It is well scented, white fruit and blossoms, and mineral notes too. Flavours are fresh and concentrated, mouthfeel is smooth (the time on lees has helped), and there is super acidity and a long minerally finish. The very good first impression is maintained and Highly Recommended is the verdict!


Domaine Laguilhon Jurancon sec (AP) 2016, 13%, €19.99 JJ O’Driscoll Cork, Wine Online

This Jurancon is a blend of Petit Manseng and Gros Manseng, 50% each. It has spent 9 months on lees “to enrich the palate”. The vineyards, in the foothills of the Pyrenees, are in Monein, and are “known for making richer styles of Jurancon’.

It is a pale yellow with green tints. Scents of white fruits (pears apples), floral notes also. Fresh fruit on the palate, citrus becoming prominent, vivacious acidity, lovely mouthful and a lip-smacking finish. Highly Recommended.

I noted the “sec” on the label. And that reminded me of a visit to the Dordogne. On arrival in Sarlat on our first night, we rushed down to the local Lidl (the only shop open) so stock up. I took charge of the wines and spotted a cardboard box full of Jurancon on the floor . From an earlier holiday in the Pays Basque, I knew this to be a lovely dry white so I grabbed one and put it in the trolley.

But we needn’t have rushed to Lidl as our host plied us with red wine in the gite and the Jurancon was left in the bag. Pulled it out the following day and looked at it. Saw that it was a deep yellow colour. Checked the back and saw the Moelleux word.

Not too impressed. I didn't like sweet wines then, only dry. Still, by this stage, we had plenty in the gîte and said we’d try it as an aperitif, as suggested on the bottle. Love at first taste. Aperitif and also dessert. Can't remember what we had in between. And if you like the Moelleux (don’t think I’ve ever seen one here though), you might like to try the delicious sweet wines from the area (which are regularly featured on restaurant lists in Ireland).

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