A Poletti taste of Istria

While at the Grand Tasting in February, in one of the masterclasses, I had the chance to taste the wines of Poletti, a Croatian winery located in Central Istria.

Making wine for some six generations, they now lay claim to 7ha of vineyards in the village of Višnjan. I feel like I know this village for having passed through it when visiting some other cellar nearby, but I could easily be wrong. Charming little hilltop villages start to blend together in Istria.

The wines were across the board good but more to the point, they really epitomized what “is” Istria to me currently. There’s a good deal of Malvazija Istarska as well as Teran, and then some international varieties tossed into the mix as seen with the Chard and Cab. I can’t tell you what is the truly perfect grape for Istria however as I’ve yet to find any one producer who just nails everything squarely. In the case of Poletti, I enjoyed his reds more than his whites, but that just could have been the setting as I’d just gotten off a flight and come in from a cold, torrential downpour in Zagreb.

Note that I’m not bothering with listing the grapes given that all are varietal wines as is usually the case in Croatia. As is also often the case, “barrique” is a demarcation with no standing other than the fact the wine spent time in oak. How much? It’s all over the map, but most wine with this written on the label will indeed be marked by barrel-aging notes.

Malvazija Istarska 2016
Green melon, light honey notes, beeswax, melon peel, and a touch of floral notes, fruit blossoms, apricot. Great wealth of acidity on the palate. Rather short persistence quite dominated by the potent acidity.

Malvazija Istarska 2015
Moodier, darker wet fruit and stone, mineral calcium, and light iron notes. Beeswax much more prominent and potent, aged with light oxidation. Full on the palate, thick and oily, melon fruit comes through a bit more.

Chardonnay 2015
Lemon pith immediate in the nose, light pineapple, but very light. Fresh lemon juice. Bit flat on the palate, lacking real definition of acidity or fruit with the exception of pulpy grapefruit. Not a great deal of finish.

Malvazija Istarska Barrique 2015
Stringent lemon citric notes, very linear and direct, full and intense in the nose, fruit pushed a bit to the back with the light barrel notes. Lees quite pronounced in the nose along with vanilla striation. Excellent buttery, creamy texture and overall quite integrated in the mouth. Could stand a bit longer but good now despite its useful jubilant even.

Malvazija Istarska Barrique 2008
Very golden with heavy rim variation. Good deal of oxidation, bruised red apple notes come in to play. Root vegetables. Oxidative aspects comes in to the palate as well, but forceful and while something of a brute in the mouth but its brashness definitely has an appeal.

Teran 2013
Purple in the glass with garnet crest. Earthy, forest floor, dark cherry, red licorice, fruit compote, plump, ripe fruit, undertones of plum. Crisp and lively in the mouth, good balance, acidity medium but with bright red fruits and a medium finish. Typical unbridled tannins nearly tamed, will cellar very well.

Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Bell pepper, young plum, sour cherry, bit of ash, light. Lighter on the palate, almost powdery in texture and weight. Hangs in there due to the tannic strength but is a bit hollow in the center.

Cabernet Sauvignon 2001
Dry, light cedar and barrel notes, mushroom coming out more, trailing raisin notes, dark cherry is still hanging in there, orange peel, kirsch, well-evolved aromatically. Full and even in the mouth. Very good integration and life, surprisingly fresh and vibrant. Fruit is all but gone but very, very pleasing.