In vineyards close to Istria’s west, the Merlot grape thrives like nowhere else. Closer to coastal breezes than most New World Merlots, fruit is to the fore, not alcohol. With fresh Spring showers and soil well drained, the wine is fresher than in Bordeaux. Even in 2010, a year of mixed weather, Istrian vines produced ruby-red wine, soft, full and long, under 13% alcohol, with black berry fruits on nose and finish. At lunch or later, this is wine of the Istrian table. Lakoca! (To lightness, as we say in Istria.)