It’s rather frightening on two counts when you arrive at the hamlet of Peršurići in Istria, the home of the celebrated sparkling wine Misal. Firstly, you drive down a small lane negotiating farmland, houses and outbuildings trying not to run down hens being lorded over by a large rooster. And secondly when you arrive at the winery you meet Ana, half of the winemaking team that makes up Misal, and the youngest Peršurić whose age defies her experience.
As she welcomes you with a beaming smile, one thinks at first that she could be the ‘help’ or perhaps you should wait for a ‘grown up’ to arrive, and then Ana starts to talk about Misal. After a few minutes you are open-mouthed because her knowledge is extraordinary and as she talks animatedly so you realise that she has been steeped in winemaking since she was a child.
More interesting still, you discover that Ana and her sister Katarina, the other half of the family’s winemaking team, are allergic to sulphites, so they have had to use absolute minimal intervention in the vineyards and winery for health reasons!
Ana’s passion for and knowledge of the bubbles of Misal is apparent from the moment you walk up the outside staircase into the extraordinary tasting room with a bar shaped like a cork and she starts to weave her way through the stories behind each wine.
There is great pride in the family’s desire to reinstate old grape varieties from the region, and this is particularly apparent in their use of Hrvatica in Misal ‘Noir’, whose name, Ana tells us, comes from this small red grape’s likeness to the rosy cheeks of a young girl, hence Hrvatica meaning little Croatian girl.
Happier in both vineyard and winery nevertheless Ana and Katarina are girls who can argue and deliberate with the best of them, answering questions competently from any journalist or expert, and answering them well and satisfactorily, and they are not afraid to stand up and be counted in the international sparkling wine world.
Misal sparkling wines reflect that personality of hers – local grapes dominate but she’ll use international varieties just because she can – they’re bold, positive and stand up for themselves, just like Ana herself.