This is a tale of a son of a Frenchwoman and an Istrian father, growing native Croatian grapes and making them in an old Mussolini-era concrete water tank. Born in French Basque Country (Jurançon) in the foothills of the Pyrenees, Dimitri Brecevic studied oenology in France and then worked at Domaine de Chevalier in addition to working harvests in Australia, New Zealand, Bordeaux, and Burgundy. In 2004 he decided to invest himself in his father’s homeland of Istria near the town of Buzet - formerly known as Piquentum in the time of the Ancient Romans. Istria is the largest peninsula in the Adriatic, Croatia’s westernmost region, and borders both Italy and Slovenia. With only about 1750 square miles, over 280 miles are coastline with 35% covered with oak and pine forests. Indigenous grapes like Malvazija Istarska and Teran coupled with the mineral rich white and red karst soil all seem to echo the salinity of this pristine coastline and the pungency of its truffle-ridden interior.
Grapes are hand-picked and then slowly pressed into tank without temperature control. Since the winery is a converted concrete water tank, the temperature is a constant 10-11ºC all year long. Whist this is perfect for ageing, it is often too cold to get a native fermentation started. Using fans to draw in the warmer outside air to around 14ºC, all of Dimitri’s wines complete a wild ferment without the use of added yeast, bacteria, enzymes, or any additives. After a long and slow fermentation without stalling fermentation or cold soaks, the wines are bottled unfiltered with just enough sulphur.
This particular wine has a relatively short maceration of 3 days, and some time in various sized barrels adds to its golden hue. The wine has aromas of wildflowers and misty sea minerals and is rich and rounded on the palate, with great texture. Medicinal, Mediterranean sage lingers somewhere in the background. If you’ve never tried Croatian wine before, look no further...
The twelve circles on the bottle label map the annual rainfall in the region over the year the wine was made, starting in October 2018 top left and finishing the month of harvest, September 2019 in the bottom right.