Šantula, Fioca and Minja - world of Istrian rakija in OPG Frane
Updated: Oct 12, 2021
„Gremo za Žminj“, „Ni pjet ni šjest…“ strange words of the Žminj speech come out without problems from the mouth of our friend Cristiano, a Brazilian from Zagreb who decided to become photographic and technical support to our portal. He is taught all these words by Duško Pamić, the owner of a small distillery in the Frane family farm in Pamići near Žminj. The words go smoothly with the excellent brandies produced here!
In the pleasant company of the stone tasting room, we try the enchanting scents of Istria. And while the usual flavours of Teranino, Medica and Biska are common to this green Mediterranean, our palates are touched by completely new products that enchant with their freshness, but also with their names. Namely, Duško is an excellent speaker of Žminj speech and he poured that flair of the local dialect into his products. It should not be forgotten that Žminj is the seat of the Čakavian Parliament, which was founded by Zvane Črnja.
So our first tastes are Fioca and Fioco, which in translation would be godson, female and male. Fioca is a liqueur made from Istrian Malvasia, dried rosemary and orange, specific because no one else produces it. It is the mildest of all drinks and has an irresistible taste and aroma of rosemary. Fruit and refreshing liqueur is made on the basis of Malvasia, which, like Teran, grows in Pamić's vineyards. The wine is made in the old fashioned way, which befits the wine pride of Istria. Fioca is especially suitable as an addition to cocktails and fritters, and later we had the opportunity to smell rosemary and orange in a barrel.
We wonder how it all started in Pamići, and Duško tells us: “We opened in March 2020, just when the pandemic started. It began as a hobby because no one drank pure Komovica. Quantities of Komovica were just piling up in the tavern. Since my brother has bees, we started making mead. People liked it and so we started making more and more flavours. " They make about a thousand litres of brandy a year and have no expansion plan. They want to preserve these flavours as much as possible, which is a great idea!
Where there is Malvasia, there is also Teran, and Fioco is Teranino, a sweet representative of Istria as well as Medica, which bears the name Šantula (godmother). Medica is full of honey, with the fullness of taste and perhaps the best we have tried in Istria. Certainly, many other visitors will enjoy and take with them small souvenirs that they pack in OPG-Frane, named after Duško's father and great-grandfather. Other fans of brandy got acquainted with this product during tastings in the vineyard of the winery In Sylvis in Sveti Petar u Šumi.
Where there is Šantula, there must be Šantul or godfather, and its presence is in the form of sage and lemon liqueur, which is already a serious drink, with a strong and refreshing taste. All this is part of the Istrian climate and the Mediterranean wealth with which we ourselves are blessed by the fact that we live on this soil. Citruses and herbs have proven to be a great combination of homemade spirits. We thickened each tasting with cheese and cured meat products as well as sweet bread baked with eggs, which is an old dish of the Žminj region.
As a certain queen of Istrian brandies, Biska was also on the table. This ancient drink of Istrian druids was christened Minja by Pamić, which is the name for a dear little girl. Since Ms Pamić is short in height, Minja was named after her. This is a Biska made from dried yellow mistletoe that has been macerated for at least three months. The more mistletoe aged in brandy, the better the Biska, but the thirsty market does not leave Duško with many choices! That is why he plans to make a Biska from white mistletoe, which is lighter in colour but also healthier. By the way, Biska is an aphrodisiac because it dilates blood vessels, and we all know what happens next!
In order for Minja not to be lonely in the name, Minji joined her, but this is not brandy but muscat grapes soaked in cherry brandy. It is a limited production based on the old custom of storing grapes in brandy. When the berries are dry, they are ideal for cakes, so in the past, they were placed in Easter cakes - pinca. Duško recommends Minji for evening enjoyment: “This is for a couple in love, in the evening. The amount is just enough for a couple. And the more you eat berries, the more you get drunk! ”
Who wants to be a couple in love with brandy, it is best to contact the family farm Frane or visit them in Pamići:
+385 91 544 7576
Photos: Cristiano Dias