Described by the late Steven Spurrier as "Croatia’s best winemaker", Ivica Matošević has established himself as a force of nature in the country’s turbulent yet burgeoning wine industry. His incredible family history simply explains the last 100 years: “My grandfather was born in Austria, my father was born in Italy, I was born in Yugoslavia and my daughter was born in Croatia. We were all born in the same house”. Spirited by the emergence of the Istrian wine scene that followed the fall of Yugoslavia in the early ‘90s and driven by an unbridled passion, Ivica Matošević diverted his career from a PhD in agriculture to winemaking. This passion is reflected both in his wines, which are exuberant, fresh and true to their nature, and in what he has achieved for the reputation of Croatian wine. Widely recognised among his peers as one of the leaders of the quality revolution, he was instrumental in setting up the Istrian appellation and establishing the wildly popular annual wine fair there.
He has also played a large role in championing Croatia’s native Malvazija Istarska (Malvasia Istriana) grape variety, coaxing out its complex herbal, mineral and slightly bitter almond characteristics, as in his ‘Alba’. Fermented in stainless steel with no skin contact, this is a fresh expression of the variety, with a roundness on the palate from ageing for several months on its fine lees.
Ivica has pushed the quality of Croatian wine even further with the ‘Alba Antiqua’. It is also 100% Malvazija Istarska, but the grapes are selected from a single vineyard near the village of Krasica in western Istria, which is known for its low yields. It is fermented on its skins for several days to give it texture, and then aged in French oak and acacia barrels for 30 months. It is only made in exceptional vintages.
The 2019 ‘Grimalda’ Red is the first organic certified vintage of this Teran and Merlot blend from a terraced, sunny, single vineyard in Central Istria, near the village of Grimalda. An alpine variety similar to Refosco, Teran provides forest berry aromas, high levels of acidity and crunchy, slightly wild tannins. The Merlot adds flesh to the mid-palate and lends a suppleness to the texture. The wine is aged in French oak barrels for around 15 months, which contributes spicy complexity.