The Godfather of Istrian Wine: Ivica Matošević

What if I told you that there was a Croatian winemaker out there capable of making badass wines easily comparable to the giants of France, Italy and Spain? Would you believe me and why not? Now, before you jump to conclusions, hear me out people. I’m not trying to degrade anybody here, but the reality is that you, the casual wine drinker, would grab the first bottle of Chianti or Cote du Rhone if you found yourself in a London supermarket, hesitant of what wine to pair with Cajun steak and passionate sex. Tough luck.

Reputation is a slippery slope. It can blast you into the stars, but it can also cut you off both feet. You can make better wines than half the French, it just won’t matter for the majority of consumers who simply want to enjoy some goddamn peace and quiet alongside a pool of alcohol. But there will always be the other side of the coin – folks that are thirsty for knowledge and willing to try something new on a daily basis. These people are the national treasure of the wine world and need to be protected from merciless capitalistic influence & cloying monotony at all times. Yes, it’s always going to be safer to play the card of buying that 5-million-production Bordeaux Rouge, but instead of purchasing the new Macklemore album, why not go with the lesser known, but highly legendary Currents from Tame Impala?

This is where Ivica Matošević steps in, the godfather of Istrian winemaking. To jump right in by illustrating his production methods would be unappreciative, for the sole reason of how immensely his life philosophy influenced certain views of mine. After receiving his PhD abroad, Ivica came back to Croatia with a fixed idea in mind and a fresh, experimental approach to the indigenous grapes Malvazija and Teran. He didn’t simply “go with the flow” in his comfy armchair, but rather anted up his squad-leader game by becoming chairman of Vinistra (the most important wine competition in Istria). With the help of colleagues that possessed the same vision as him, Ivica started driving towards authenticity, putting Istria on the world wine map using a no-bullshit approach. With this, success was imminent and the fact that Matošević wines are drunk in the US, UK, Germany, China and Oceania at this very moment is enough an argument to confirm this.

His winery is located in the northernmost part of the Mediterranean and comes with two plots of land where damn fine grapes are grown – the Buje area and Grimalda. Buje is focused on higher yields used in the production of Matošević’s casual line of wines, while Grimalda picks the brain a bit more with its young, but very unique positions. The main oenologist, Saša Topolovec, is as interesting as the entire story itself – a working-class hero that isn’t a huge wine drinker (prefers beer above every other beverage), but produces mind-blowing wines which are intellectually demanding, darkly mysterious and absolutely worth the investigatory efforts, if you find yourself in this area (which you absolutely should). The selection of wines offered at Matošević is of perfect size. He basically has everything for everyone – easy-drinking, punch-like wines perfect for the casual drinker’s Netflix & chill, terroir-driven whites and reds capable of serious story-telling (somms, I’m looking at you), Port, bubbles and even a particular style of orange wine for all you flower-power hippies out there.

Signature Wine

A blend of Istrian Malvazija, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay born and raised on the marl soils of the Grimalda vineyards. Aged in French oak barrels for 12 months, this is a very precise wine with aromas of peach, pineapple, acacia, biscuit and wet stone. Some like to call Grimalda White 2015 a true crowd pleaser because of its unobtrusiveness and adaptability to different palates. It’s fruity, elegant, but serious – all at the same time. Most importantly, it delightfully represents the terroir of the Grimalda plot. Pair with creamy shrimp pasta or risotto. 91/100

NAME: Matošević
ESTABLISHED IN: 1996
ADDRESS: Krunčići 2, Sv. Lovreč
ANNUAL PRODUCTION: 100.000
LABELS: Barely Legal, Alba, Alba Barrique, Alba Robinia, Alba Antiqua, Aura, Grimalda White, Grimalda Red, Mora Barrique, Ombra, Iron Witch

Written by Aleksandar Draganić.

I’m a WSET certified grape juice drinker, and yes, I’m that 1% of people that love their job. I drink wine, write about it, preach about it, even take pictures of it. Find me at @grapenomad

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