Brunch & Bubbly in Istria, Croatia

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Hotel Lone Croatia

After three fabulous days in the beautiful Croatian region of Istria, our flight home was scheduled to depart at the respectable hour of 3pm.  Instead of an early wake-up call and another winery visit (which we no doubt would have rallied for), we only had to hop on the lift to get to our last tasting.

Brunch was arranged in the presidential suite of our hotel, the Lone Hotel, and since sparkling wine is the perfect accompaniment to a weekend brunch, the food was accompanied by a tasting of the sparkling wines from Misal - one of very few sparkling wine producers in Istria.

The Presidential Suite left nothing to be desired – two spacious bedrooms, three bathrooms and a wrap-around terrace overlooking Lone Bay - the home to a sailing regatta held each year in September.

The large ice bucket brimming with bottles of sparkling wine seemed a normal and natural accessory to the suite. We were introduced to Ana Peršurić, a young looking 30-year old who, along with her 26-year old sister, makes the Misal wines.

Her shy demeanor and timidity about her English, were completely outshone by her excitement of sharing her wines with us and her extensive knowledge of even the most tricky and technical of wine questions.

The name Misal, she explained, stems from the religious book used by the congregation during church services – a missile.

While the traditional grapes of Champagne – Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – were present in some of the cuvées, the mainstay of the wines were the Istrian grapes Malvazija, Teran and Refošk.  Each wine in the range is vinified using the Champagne method, with second fermentation occurring in the bottle.

We started with an 07 Blanc de Blancs of 100% Chardonnay and zero dosage that was persistent and fresh; followed by the Misal Prestige 2009, classified as an extra dry, was 80% Chardonnay with 10% each of Pinot Noir and Malvazija. It had a lovely texture with bright fruit and soft mousse, but was too dry for my personal preference.

Next came the Brut Millennium 2009 - 80% Malvazija, 10% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay. It had spent one year on the lees which had left it with a wonderful kiss of nuttiness and a slightly doughy texture. 

By law in Croatia, sparkling wines must age for only nine months, but Misal ages theirs for between 1-2 years.

The fourth glass was filled with the non-vintage Istra Brut – my favourite of the tasting – 100% Malvazija.  As Ana suggested, it makes an excellent companion to the foods of Istria that we had become acquainted with during our visit – asparagus, ox and truffle; the earthy, truffly palate seemed to offer confirmation.

They also produce a particularly unique red sparkling – the Misal Noir, a blend of Borgonja (Gamay), Teran and Hrvatica; a rosé, which Ana says, is the colour of ‘Istrian orange’ – deep salmon pink with flecks of magenta and gold; and a demi-sec – a blend of Muskat rosé and Teran.

We thanked Ana for her time (she was spending her one Saturday off work with us), topped up our glasses with our preferred cuvée and ambled out to the sprawling terrace to the equally extensive buffet.

The elegant array of alluring morsels included bite-sized pieces of tuna steak coated in black pepper, smoked salmon and horseradish on mini croissants, grilled asparagus, several cheeses and a number of tempting desserts. 

As we stood in the blustery breeze overlooking the water it felt very much as if we were standing on the deck of a cruise ship and getting ready to set sail on a swish Mediterranean cruise, but sadly we were soon to be RyanAir passengers instead.