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Article: Your Guide to Wines from Croatia, part 2 - This Month's Novel Wines Explorer's Club

Your Guide to Wines from Croatia, part 2 - This Month's Novel Wines Explorer's Club

Your Guide to Wines from Croatia, part 2 - This Month's Novel Wines Explorer's Club

Welcome to this month's Novel Wines Explorer's Club, the UK's most exciting wine subscription for the curious drinker. Each month, we will introduce you to a new wine region as part of our promise to deliver no two wines the same for a whole year. Not a member yet? Subscribe here.

Looking for an older guide? See all the Explorer's Club guides here.

What's in this month's Explorer's Club?

Welcome to your Explorer’s Club for May where we celebrate the next instalment of our Croatian Wines. If you were with us back in September last year you will have been fortunate to try the first selection of Croatian wines but given the huge variety of terrain, grapes and styles there we thought it was worth another deep dive. And after tasting the wines in this box we’re sure you’ll agree.

This month’s selection also covers the main regions of Istria with its freshness, the Dalmatian coast which warms and ripens harvests and the Croatian Danube with its true Continental Climate that layers acidity and fruit. It will introduce you to new varieties alongside wines that showcase well-known international grapes in distinctly, carefully managed Croatian blends.


 Join us for a proper Croatian road-trip and experience the wines of this amazing country. And remember, If you have any specific questions about the wine, you can get in touch with our team here. However, as ever we've got lots of info on the wines below, so pull the cork lets go!


Franc Arman has a long history and great tradition with their first vineyards planted back in 1850 and that experience and knowledge goes into producing premium quality wines today. They’re located on the north side of the Istrian peninsular, close to the border with Slovenia so are one of the most Northerly Croatian Producers

Sivi Pinot is also known as Pinot Gris and Franc Arman produce a radiant and refreshing white with it. They extract lots of floral fruity notes from what can be a simple grape and it it makes for a very easy drinking wine. Alongside the fruit is an unusual but distinctive scent of dandelion. A light, fresh white full of minerality, its ideal on its own but lovely with light pasta dishes or simple grilled white fish.


Zlatan Otok was founded in the early 90’s as part of the resurgence of Croatian and CEE wines in that period. Based around the island of Hvar near the town of Šibenik in the heart of the Dalmatian Coast. They’re one of the most awarded wineries in Croatia and were early champions of Organic wine. Their Posip benefits from their South facing location right on the coast and it’s a plush and rich white. This sunny location builds full and persistent fruity aromas, with coastal breezes adding a light bitterness and a really pleasant finish. A real partner for Mediterranean fish dishes.


The Domaine Koquelicot winery is located in Gračišće, Istria, owned by the spouses Olivier Ertzbischoff and Jacqueline Marovac. Having worked in Burgundy, the couple now spend half their time in Istria, and half of their time in France and their wines all show that French influence. This clear in this blend which is 80% Malvazija, the most important Istrian white, and 20% Chardonnay.

Koquelicot has no vineyards of its own, but instead buy the best quality grapes from around the region and the winery takes its name from the Koquelicot poppies that grow wild in the fields surrounding it.

It had a definite Burgundian style but the Malvazija shines through with aromas of quince and green herbs alongside vanilla and honey from the French oak aging. Really refined but delicious!


Testament are close neighbours of Zlatan Otok and also have vineyards just outside of Šibenik on the Dalmatian Coast. Hence the name of this wine, the Dalmatian Dog as this is the home of this famous breed.

Like the dog, this wine is a lively and fun. Babic is a native Dalmatian grape, dark blue in colour, large and very thin skinned. This produces a wine with fine tannins that makes it easy to enjoy. Expect a fruity, medium bodied red with lots of cherry notes, with herbs and lots of freshness. A good warm weather red that works well on its own but would pair with simple tomato pasta dishes or with its herbaceous notes,  BBQ’d lamb with rosemary.


We head well inland to the right bank of the Croatian Danube for this red. A blend of Frankova (Blaufrankisch) and Cabernet Sauvignon from a winery with lots of history. Ilocki Podrumi has cellars dating back over 500 years which they still use to age wine. The vineyards sit 200m above sea level and the warm days really ripen the grapes but the cool breeze off the Danube ensure ripeness is well managed.

The wine is deep ruby red, with fruity aromas and hints of blackberry and vanilla from maturation in French oak barrels. The palate is round and full, you can taste the warmth but with gentle and soft tannins. It’s a great food wine and will pair well with beef, pork and most game but especially venison due to its blackberry Cabernet Sauvignon notes.


We round out the case with a really special wine from the Momjan Valley on the northwest of the Istrian Peninsula. Kabola have over a century of history behind them and the vineyards are all organic. The soils are mainly marl and clay which means the vines have to search for water, production is controlled and the quality is high. It’s a very hand-on vineyard, modern but with real respect for traditional methods including the use of in Amphora for aging some of their wines.

With Supremo they’ve blended the Croatian Indigenous grape Teran with two popular, international grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The result is an incredible deep ruby, full-bodied red. Its hugely aromatic and cycles through blackberry, blackcurrant, vanilla, smoke and ending with ground coffee. With fine tannins and prominent minerality, this wine is fresh and smooth and pairs perfectly with a good steak.