Three generations of the Cossetto family have produced wine in Istria and now winemaker Alfredo Cossetto is surrounded by three women – wife Melinda, oenologist and teacher of many of the younger generation of Croatian winemakers, and daughters Denis and Grazia. Melinda is also marketing manager of award winning olive oil producer San Gurmano, although Cossetto’s own handcrafted oils are also medal winners. With their vineyards based ten kilometres inland on a rich red clay soil between Tar and Poreč, Alfredo’s family moved from Piedmont 120 years ago to Kaštelir, historically an area famed for wine and olive oil production since Roman times.
As traditionalists, Melinda and Alfredo believe that wine is the only product made that pronounces the year of its vintage and as they want to evoke the harvest’s year in each glass of wine, their ethos is that they don’t want to interfere with the laws of nature, they want only to help ferment the wine, pointing it and coaxing it in the right direction. Melinda says that their white wines (malvazija and chardonnay) go through malolactic fermentation which allows them to reduce their use of SO2; their reds don’t leave their cellar under 2 years old.
The family have planted Istrian borgonja, one of Melinda’s favourite indigenous grape varieties, and one of the more unusual, which appears in their superb ‘Mozaik’ cuvée along with merlot and cabernet sauvignon, and their deep golden ‘Rustica’ is an extraordinary late harvest malvazija produced only in exceptional years.
A trip to the Cossetto family’s winery involves just that – the family. Laughter, fun, superb home-cooked meals, wine on the terrace with the Adriatic sparkling in the distance, and Don the young Rottweiler dominating the gathering demanding our attention. But much as we love Don, it’s the wines that get most of our attention, every time!