West Istrian wine tour
Are you a passionate red wine enthusiast? Or have you ever wanted to know how much wine is influenced by terroir and how much by the winemaker who inevitably leaves in bottle its personal touch? In both cases this is a wine tour for you! In the area surrounding Poreč, on rolling hills south of Mirna river valley and east of Adriatic coast, thrive vineyards of five renowned Istrian winemakers – Geržinić, Cossetto, Rossi, Radovan and Damjanić. Their red wines, rich and with plenty of character, are one of the best reds you can find in Istria. As expert claim, this quality is owed to Terra Rossa, intensely red soil comprised of mineral-rich soil that particularly suits well to red wine varietals, and to marine breeze that chills down the grapes even during hottest summer nights.
The tour includes visit of three wineries (out of five mentioned below). We’ll have a break during a light lunch in Konoba Bačva near Višnjan.
More about winemakers and the lunch break:
I have chosen these winemakers because on the base of the differences we’ll find in their monovarietal red wines made from old Istrian varietals Teran and Istrian Borgonja (a parent of Gamay) and international ones, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. I am sure you’ll learn a lot about wine in general and, who knows, maybe answer the question from the beginning. There’s no doubt we’ll have a lot of fun! Those who prefer white wines won’t be bored either. All these winemakers produce refreshing Istrian Malvasias, powerful Chardonnays and fragrant Muscats.
Although below you’ll find descriptions of five wineries, we’ll visit only three of them. Istrian winemakers can be very busy in the vineyard or the cellar so it often happens they don’t have time to welcome us.
Marko Geržinić, a young and gifted Istrian winemaker, is gaining attention with his red wines aged exclusively in stainless steel. Therefore, tasting his Teran and Syrah will be excellent opportunity to understand the influence of wood on wine that all other winemakers of the tour use in their winemaking. The first has a typical aroma of Teran with plenty of violets and raspberries. In the mouth it is intense, with powerful acidity, refreshing red fruits and marked minerality. Marko’s Syrah is more enjoyable for general public, easy drinking and jovial, more floral than fruity and with a fair amount of extract.
The style of Cossetto wines, Mozaik and Cabernet Sauvignon, immediately gets imprinted in your memory. They are charming and unpretentious as Melinda and Alfredo, our hosts. Mozaik is an unusual blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Istrian Borgonja and Merlot. For both wines they use short macerations, 5-6 days, which is enough, so they say, to get fruitiness but avoid the extraction of rough tannins. We’ll taste also a dry version of Muscat, excellent as refreshing aperitif, and Malvazija Rustica made from dried grapes that pairs well with fruit based desserts.
On the slopes overlooking Mirna Valley, 12 hectares of Rossi family vineyards thrive under sapient care of those who have wine making in their genes. Marino learned a lot from his grandfather, who continues to transfer traditional knowledge and passion for this unique terroir where red, white and grey soils are intertwined. Rossi wines are all made in purity with Malvasia, Teran and Refošk, indigenous grape varieties they are intimately connected to. We’ll taste also their famous Biska, mistletoe grappa that is arguably the best in Istria, and other grappas aromatized with various medicinal herbs.
Impressive metal gates in colored in dark red and white guard the entrance to the yards while numbers placed at the very top proudly mark these gates were made around 1880. At first sight, the small village of Radovani does not spread the atmosphere of hospitality. This feeling will completely disappear as soon as you get to know Franko Radovan, a quiet and modest winemaker. Istrian terroir is particularly beautifully expressed in his powerful Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Although made from ubiquitous international grapes, these wines tell a local story and, as a result, can easily pick attention of any wine connoisseurs in the World. We’ll taste also his Teran, one of the smoothest and concentrated on the market.
On 3,8 hectares Ivan Damjanić grows three white and three red grape varieties, of which two indigenous ones, Istarska Malvazija and Borgonja, predominate. Maybe only two or three winemakers in Istria produce Borgonja, a parent of Gamay. Very fruity, lively mineral, a kind of wine that does not want to be pretentious, it does not fight with the food but just caresses your palate. Very easy drinking, enjoyable in all seasons, and it is hard to find a wine in Istria with such great food pairing versatility. We’ll also taste two rich and concentrated reds that are Damjanić’s high endwines: Merlot in purity and Clemente, a great blend of Merlot, Cabernet and Teran.