Tag Archives: Istria

Vinistra 2017: Olive Oils

Together with the wine, Vinistra is place where the best Istrian olive oil is being chosen. Remnants of diverse ancient oil manufactories along the entire western coast of Istria, particularly on the Brijuni archipelago, in the towns of Barbariga, Poreč and Červar Porat, show the long heritage of olive groves in Istria.

The Istrians say: “Close to these, real industrial areas intended for the amphora manufacture had been set up. It is only natural that large olive-groves were planted aside, namely the indigenous local sorts (bjelica, karbonera, buža, etc.). Nowadays, it seems like we have to start all over again. We dispose of unrivalled legacy, apparently excellent climate conditions and soil structure, favourable geographic position, skills handed down from our ancestors, knowledge and properly qualified personnel; nevertheless, we seem to lag behind the latest worldwide trends and attainments in the field. We need to take a step forward and face the challenge of planting olive-groves consisting of selected, autochthonous sorts, producing top-quality olive-oil, accepting new growing technologies, as well as of constructing up-to-date oil plants.”

The hard-working Istrian olive growers are fit for the job, at least according to the huge push in the international olive oil ratings. At Vinistra, a dozen olive growers achieved medals: OPG Marko Radola (Barban, golden medal for buža); Azrri (Pazin, golden medal for karbonaca&buža blend); OPG Gržinić Marko (Vižinada, golden medal for istarska bjelica, leccino & pendolino blend); Dolija 08 (Krnica, golden medal for istarska bjelica); Zigante (Kostanjica, golden medal for Istrian special selection); OPG Gambaletta (Vodnjan, golden medal for istarska bjelica, buža & karbonaca blend); Monte Rosso (Umag, golden medal for leccino, istarska bjelica, pendolino/Maurino/ascolana & picholine blend); Dešković (Grožnjan, silver medal for leccino); OPG Nela Popović (Poreč, silver medal for mixed olive oil); Laguna Novigrad (Novigrad, silver medal for frantoio and pendolino blend); OPG Damir Vižintin (Oprtalj, silver medal for leccino and istarska bjelica blend); Laguna Novigrad (Novigrad, silver medal for leccino and pendolino blend); and OPG Beaković Mauricio (Kaštelir, bronze medal for leccino, frantoio, pendolino, buža & rošinjola blend).

And while we did try some of the best olive oils, our attention was given to the municipality of Tar-Vabriga. The olive oil from this Istrian municipality has a continuation of use and production since antiquity. In first six centuries after Christ, the Laron Bay was used as primary harbour for transferring olive oil on whole Adriatic. In the Middle Ages, olive oil from Tar-Vabriga was used on the tables of European rulers, and in 1970-ies FAO designated the region as best for the northernmost olive oil production. The local authorities plan to open soon an eco-museum of olive oil as a testimony to the values and traditions in Tar-Vabriga.

Everything is connected to the olive growers themselves. Their efforts and knowledge combine with heritage and love. They have preserved the dry stone walls surrounding the centuries old olive groves; they have opened their cellars for visitors to taste and buy olive oil; and combined this offer with local foods and wine for a perfect and durable experience throughout the year.


Vinistra 2017

Existing for years now, Vinistra has become a major wine and olive oil event for the Istrian Peninsula. This year it is 24th Vinistra, with always excellent workshops and presenters. Last two decades saw a great dedication of Istrian wine makers in making the largest Croatian peninsula also a major wine destination. They’ve succeeded in it lovely, and there is still much work to be done.

Vinistra 2017: Malvasia

Today it is almost a rule for Istrian tourism to combine sea pleasures with wine treasures, and splendid gastronomy. Known as Croatian Tuscany, Istrian cuisine is diverse and interesting to explore, and everyone is working with a holistic approach.

Vinistra 2017: Teran

The event is famous for Malvasia and Teran awards, two signature wines of Istria, but also has many other categories, including the olive oil contest.

Vinistra 2017: Olive Oils

Champion wines are always awarded for best fresh and mature Malvasia and Teran, and for Refošk, which is Teran’s close cousin. Heavy job of the jury is understandable, but huge number of medals is still a bit strange. We appreciate there are just minor differences among the wines, and would encourage outstanding wines to receive golden medals. Otherwise, there is a major confusion over what really makes a golden-award wine.


Vinistra 2017: Malvasia

Every year Vinistra gives IQ brands to the fresh Malvasia 2016. This year the winners of IQ brand are Benvenuti, Brčić, Capo, Cattunar, Damjanić, Dešković, Fakin, Geržinić, Kozlović, Legović, Matošević, Medea, Novacco, Peršurić M.,Pilato, Ravalico, Sirotić, Terzolo, Tomaz, Trapan, Vina Zigante, Vivoda, Zigante d.o.o., and the IQ for best matured Malvasia 2015 is Bruno Trapan.

Istrian Malvasia is kin to the more famous Italian Malvasias (Malvasia bianca del Chianti, Malvasia del Lazio, Lamvasia delle Lipari, Malvasia di Candia, Malvasia di Sardegna). It is a recognisable Mediterranean white sort which ripens well every year and is very prone to the agro-mechanical efforts. The same goes for the Istrian Malvasia, the signature Istrian white wine. The wine is mid-strong to strong, with alcohols from 11,5 up to 13,5 vol %.

Oenologists tend to classify Malvasia as a semi-aromatic sort with rich floral and fruity aromatic potentials. Specific Malvasia reminds on the acacia flower scent, especially if the grapes are cultivated on higher and sunny terrains. Fruity aromas are predominant with apples, plums, and apricots, while the fresh Malvasia may contain slightly bitter almond flavour. Its colour usually is hay yellow with golden traits. It is very old sort in Istria, but due to different local names its first documented stories came only in the 1890-ies.

The best young Istrian Malvasia went this year to OPG Privitelio Nino. The 2016 Malvasia from Vrsar arrives directly from the barrel, as Mr Privitelio never bottled his wine, which includes besides Malvasia also Merlot and Teran. This young and fresh Malvasia is usually sold as house wine in his restaurant Speranza in village of Flengi near Vrsar, or to the wondering tourists who cherish his wine as something truly local. Mr Nino did promise, however, to start bottling his wine which is made in very classic Istrian way. Champion young Malvasia is light yellow-green in colour, but the scent is completely unusual – it contains forest berries! Its 13,4 per cent alcohol is universal Istrian recipe for the seafoods.

OPG Nino Privitelio
Flengi 31, Vrsar

The best matured Malvasia comes from the Poreč’s wine and olive oil corporation Agrolaguna. Malvasia Festigia 2013 is among top Agrolaguna’s wines, which already was awarded with the golden medal in 2014 in the category of fresh Malvasias. Stemming from the Kaštelir vineyards, this Malvasia was an instant hit and unfortunately exists only in a few hundred archived bottles. A point well taken, as it teaches wine makers to go slow with this sort as it may turn out to be a champion wine. Partly macerated overnight, later mixed, and aged in the Inox barrels, the 2013 Malvasia was bottled already in May 2014 and instantly sold in big quantities. This was really a mistake but those lucky ones certainly did enjoy in it, especially if they ate seafood.

Agrolaguna – Tasting Room Festigia
Mate Vlašića 34, Poreč
+385 91 441 9998

We’ve also tried other Malvasias awarded with the IQ label. Benvenuti brought his Malvasia 2016 which is exceptionally fresh and mineral, fruity and very drinkable. The white Istrian soil of this famous wine maker from Kaldir and the micro-climate in this valley near Motovun produce many excellent wines of which Malvasia San Salvatore 2013 stands out. But those looking for dessert wines should definitely taste Benvenuti’s Corona Grande 2015, harmonic sweet wine with aromas of acacia honey and raisins, which we also tried at the superb Peteani restaurant.

Benvenuti Vina (Z.T.O. Benvenuti)
Kaldir 7, 52424 Motovun
fax: (0)52 691 322, m: (0)98 197 56 51, m: (0)91 583 87 56
E-mail: info@benvenutivina.com

Malvasia 2016 of the Poreč’s wine maker Damjanić is another straw-yellow masterpiece of Istrian terroir. This Malvasia has a typical scent which is fruity and floral, reminds us on acacia flower, elderflower and grapefruit. It has dry, fresh, round, balanced, and harmonious taste, with a hint of bitterness. The dedication to the red soil brings with itself a tremendous efforts and love for wine making, which is rewarded this year with one golden, four silver, and one bronze medal. It is a continuation of great wines coming from the cellar of Mr Ivan Damjanić.

Ivan Damjanić,
+385 91 202 0495

A great new bottle style comes from Giancarlo Zigante who also got IQ brand for his Malvasia 2015. The whole line of wines is now bottled in a very pleasing form, which contains great wine macerated and fermented before ripening in the Inox barrels for seven months. Of course, the master of the truffle production in Istria will suggest you drink it with white truffle dishes, poultry, and mild cheese, but it pairs great with seafood too.

Another great example of Poreč region is Ritoša, whose wines are firmly becoming top quality in Istria. The job done by father and daughter, whose oenological education brings knowledge and passion together, translates in beautiful wines, of which Malvasia is just one part. We’ve tried beautiful Yellow Muscat which boasts characteristic and elegant floral scent and is ideal drink for desserts. Ritoša is also known for very good red wines, of which Cabernet Sauvignon deserves a special remark.

Ritoša Vina
Ive Lole Ribara 3, Poreč
00385(0)98 195 71 24 – VILI RITOŠA
00385(0)92 176 78 18 – ANA RITOŠA
TEL: 00385(0)52 432 069
FAX: 00385(0)52 432 106

Vinistra 2017: Teran

Teran is the most famous Istrian red wine, the main Istrian sort in the past. For quite long time people identified Teran with Refošk, but it is not the same vine. Teran has a characteristic ruby-red colour, with purple tones. Distinctive aroma is typically fruity, with dominant raspberry scent. Relatively high acidity and somewhat sour note gives to this wine a characteristically full, strong, robust wine which blends excellent with red meat and hearty foods, especially with Istrian prosciutto, cheese, and wild. Teran is also very old wine – it is mentioned some 600 years ago.

Photo by Vinistra

Thus, „All Faces of Teran“ workshop was indeed among the best events of this year’s Vinistra. The masterclass workshop was run by the wine master Oz Clarke, one of the chief international drinks communicator. This year’s best young Teran is Fuga 2016 by Rovinj’s Dobravac winery. The fact that last year Dobravac was awarded also for the young Teran is a proof of excellence but in a very unusual way: both his fresh Terans have been given to the selection commission to check the future potentials of these wines.

Mr Damir Dobravac knows his wine should rest for a few years, but the awards have pushed him to make a new wine brand: instead of Fuga, now he will introduce Gaspar, a line of fresh Teran. The wine from Valalta terroir was macerated for three weeks and then matured in local Istrian oak barrel called tinac or bajadur. Young Fuga has all major characteristics of good Teran: it has purple-red colour, clear and dense, with berries and cherries in scent, with a particular oak sense in the background. Fresh, strong, and enduring taste of this dry wine and its 13 per cent alcohol makes it great companion to the Istrian pork dishes.

Mr Dobravac also suggests making the famous Istrian wine soup exactly with this kind of wine. The Dobravac wine stand on Vinistra was crowdy as one can expect, and it was really nice to see young people working at the winery. The music of Dobravac winery continues with Suita (Malvasia macerated for six hours), Sonata (somewhat complex Malvasia macerated for two days), Simfonija (orange wine with 80 per cent Malvasia and 20 per cent Chardonnay, macerated for two weeks and three years in oak barrel), Toccata (cabernet sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot blend), Fuga, and Allegro (dried Yellow Muscatto).

Villa Dobravac
Karmelo 1, Rovinj
00385 52 813 006, 00385 95 90 59 215

The Winery Dešković received the best award for the mature Teran 2012. The champion comes from Kostanjica near Grožnjan and it is his third champion title: first came in 2013 for the 2009 Teran, and second in 2014 for Malvasia.

Photo by Dešković

Mr Franco Dešković remembers successful year 2012 when the teran grape was harvested quite late, in the very beginning of October. Macerated for 12 days, it spent half year in the Inox barrels before being put into the barrique for two years. After additional two months in Inox, the wine was bottled in July 2015 and won last year the golden medal at Vinistra and IQ (Istrian Quality) brand. The wine should be decanted for at least half an hour to release its beautiful berries scents and strong and deep taste. Despite its years, it is still quite fresh, with a particular pomegranate taste. Dešković’s Teran pairs excellent with red and fatty meat and invites for a visit at his vineyard.

Photo by: Vinarija Dešković

Kostanjica 58, Grožnjan
Mob. 00385 (0)98 / 197 7985
E-mail. info@vina-deskovic.hr

Younger generations of wine makers continue dedication of Istrian viticulture to this noble sort of wine. One such wine maker comes from the Deklić winery which has the family wine lineage since 1920. The wines come from the area of Vižinada, which has always been a wine-growing district, with the combination of an excellent climate, a fertile red soil, and a pleasant altitude. No wonder even the medieval Knights Templar have been harvesting grapes right at this location.

Deklić’s Teran 2015 has been awarded by the Golden Medal at Vinistra; it is a balanced dry wine of beautiful and characteristic ruby colour. A fruity scent brings forest berries to the mind, while the taste is harmonious and enduring. Paired with venison, red meat, truffles, and Istrian Prosciutto, this Teran is indeed a part of a truly Istrian gastronomic experience!

Photo by: Vinarija Deklić
Ferenci 47, Vižinada

Choco & Wine Festival in Brtonigla

Who is not in favour of chocolate? How about wine? In Brtonigla, a gastronomy paradise near Umag in Northwest Istria, you can easily pair both. For already five years, Tourist Board of Brtonigla prepares Choco&Wine Fest, a unique gastronomy festival in Croatia. New trends in chocolate world and local sweet delicacies have been presented together with wine champions of this Istrian municipality.

Same weekend hosted Seventh Brtonigla Adventure Trek, which gathered some 300 trekkers from several countries. Three trails, of various length and intensity, led many to appreciate the beautiful nature of this part of Istria. All of them could later come to the Brtonigla’s main square in the chocolate tent.

Sweet sense of chocolate tears the air inside, where many chocolate masters showed their expertise. Especially interesting program of cake decoration by Dragica Lukin from Vila Soši in Umag was indeed a delight. Dragica and her son Igor Lukin showed how the chocolate is rightly tempered and decorated. Vila Soši is somewhat a legendary sweet centre of Umag, dedicated to the preservation of traditional sweets and heritage of Croatian delicacies.

Choco art & show of Italian sculptor Stefano Comelli featured the chocolate jewellery, especially chocolate rings, favourite among kids and adults. As the carnival season is high, Vili Radonić from Pula made chocolate masks.

Wine was in no shortage either. Sunny weather gathered also many wine enthusiasts who indulged in wine tastings of renown Brtonigla wine makers Novacco, Veralda, and Ravalico. Istrian Malvasia and Muscat are among the best wine sorts coming from these wine cellars and go excellent with various chocolates.

The tent in Brtonigla was too small for all the guests arriving to this first gastronomy festival in the year in Istria.

Photos by: Elvis Horozović

Agritourism Ograde – Rural Peace in Middle of Istria

After two days traveling through Istria in search of good food and drink, reading of the map we find a tiny village Lindarski katun. Driving between Žminj and Pazin, with occasional of route headings on local roads, we come across closed bronze gate. And behind those gates a path stretches emphasizing the size of the property. The gate is here to ensure a deep calm provided by the hosts, and the arrival is only possible with prior notice, although you won’t be left behind closed gate if you stumble upon it. Our announcement allows us a delightful drive under the century old trees, past rural houses to the tavern and Šajina’s family house, which is also on the estate, the last house on it.


We are being greeted by a smiling owner Davorka Šajina, who was just tidying up after guest’s lunch. Ms. Davorka undoubtedly enjoys cooking, being a professional cook herself, and she will gladly praise herself for being the most prominent Croatian rural women. It is an award she received back in 2009, but already in 2007 she received an award from the Croatian Tourist Board for Employee of the Year.


These awards hang on the wall of the tavern, where dishes are often prepared under the hearthstone, as well as other authentic Istrian dishes: prosciutto, cheese, pljukanci, domestic chickens, homemade sausages, pork loin, seasonal soups and dishes with mushrooms and asparagus with other sweets. The tavern can accommodate 25 to 30 people, but sitting on the porch of the house, overlooking a field of corn or apple trees, with a glass of homemade Malvasia or Teran gives you a special sensation.


It is right here that the hosts often spend a summer evening with the guest, offering them homemade brandy from Istrian grass, as well as brandy from juniper (Smrekovača), walnut (Orahovac), honey (Medovača) or plain Biska. Cheerful companionship persists deep into the night, but the family is always ready and willing on an early morning to tend to the other residents of the estate.


Among some of the residents, there are horses, pigs, chickens and sheep. Virtue of Ms. Davorka is her love for the children, to whom she aims to convey knowledge about coexistence with animals. For that reason she welcomes preschool and primary school generations to familiarize them with the symbiosis of man, animal and nature.


But “adult children” have a lot of things to do around the farm. Šajina family organizes recreational riding through nature, as well as engaging in seasonal agricultural work such as planting, sowing, reaping the benefits, hoeing, mowing and harvesting of fruits and to circle it all preparing lunch and dinner. Agritourism is open to various cooking workshops of preparing traditional dishes, canning, spinning wool and weaving baskets, for guests as well as hikers and other nature lovers.


Accommodation is available in two separate houses. Older stone house accommodates six to eight people in three bedrooms. The area has a rustic decoration and furniture.

Agroturizam Ograde
Lindarski katun 60, Pazin+385(0)52 693 035, +385(0)98 723 442


July 22, Karigador

Imagine a relaxing summer evening beside the sea with good company, the aroma of fresh fish on the grill and the sound of the accordion. Pay a visit to the Karigador Fish Fest on 22nd July and enjoy the Mediterranean atmosphere.

The smell and sounds of a real fish festival will spread over the little pier, alongside bay and will warm you perfectly up for the Evenings of Karigador, a traditional event of the programme on the last weekend of July. Fish specialities, Istrian wine and traditional produce along with live music will spice up the experience of the otherwise peaceful and romantic Karigador.


All of the curious amongst you who have already become acquainted with the green richness of Brtonigla will also have the chance to discover its blue, seaside. By tasting the typical seafood delicacies you will experience the local customs and the fishing tradition of this area. Warm hospitality, the local music and the idyllic bay at dusk will etch itself into everyone’s memory.

To experience all the charms of this fishing village, visit the Karigador Fish Fest! It is the best introduction to the Evenings of Karigador event where a great party and quality cuisine melt into one right beside the sea.


June 24-25, Istria

Brtonigla traditionally hosts the Festival of Istrian Malvasia, the queen of regional wines. It is a refreshing, elegant wine, containing a fruity note and, thanks to its low percentage of alcohol, is ideal for consuming with light meals.


This popular festival in Brtonigla nurtures the traditional savouring of this top-quality wine, and it brings together local tastes, traditions, and entertainment. During the festivities, a little tourist train will take you on a tour of the wine cellars of the town and its environs. Guests are welcomed by renowned vintners who throw open the doors to their underground treasures, while telling tales and anecdotes of the path of thorns that leads to the creation of top-quality wine.


June 4, Pula

Homemade honey, homemade meat, homemade olive tree products, and much more – this will all be a part of Aromas and flavours of Istria (HandMade by Markat) which will be held on Pula’s market.


From 10:00 am on, spring delicacies made from homegrown potatoes, onions, mushrooms, dried sausages and various spices and herbs, with everything cooked in a huge Pula pan, will make this festival even better.


May 29, Istria

The touching beauty of Istria is best discovered with a personal oenological adventure on its wine routes. The arrival at each winemaker’s wine cellar leads through beautiful landscapes that enchant with their tales and old buildings. Each of the winemakers, led by zeal and passion, will awaken the hedonistic spirit of the visitors. He will introduce him to the world of the quirky noble liquid with interesting stories, accompanied by wine tastings and gastro/food specialties that enhance the magic in the environment of green vineyards and hot stone.


Because of these reason, mark Sunday, 29th May, from 10 a.m. to 7.00 p.m. on your calendar, because 70 renowned winemakers all over Istria are opening their wine cellars’ doors to the visitors – thus marking the Wine Day which plays an important role in promoting wine culture and creating Istria’s image as a recognizable wine destination.


During the “Open Wine Cellar Day”, wine lovers – as well as those who will become ones themselves – will have the possibility to taste the best Istrian wines and find out the way winemakers make top quality and world renowned wines by combining the traditional and modern way of growing grape vines.

Vinistra & TZ Istre
T. +385 (0)52 88 00 88