It is difficult to decide where it is nicer to taste the local products of the Čehić family farm - under the canopy in the stone yard or in the tasting room where the eyes wander through the varied offer and the palate enjoys great flavours! Ana Čehić, the young owner of a family farm who has all the prerequisites for delighting domestic and foreign guests, took us through these wonderful tastes. The family farm was founded with a Malvasia vineyard in 2001 and today has 3.5 hectares of agricultural land, mostly vineyards, olive groves and some orchards and lavender.
The richness of the Istrian country is reflected in the brandies and liqueurs on offer here. Brandy includes flavours of the typical Istrian climate: figs, komovica, mead, teranino, brandy with black olives. Given such a wide offer, we decided to try everything in a few seconds and we were not wrong in doing that. Although these brandies can be found everywhere in Istria, the pure fruit flavours are a great advantage of Čehić's brandies. Medica especially delights with its aromas that unmistakably reveal propolis, fig gives a richness of fruit flavour, and komovica its undisguised strength. As part of the Cro-Agro fair in 2020, the Čehić's won bronze for figs, and silver for komovica as part of the evaluation of distillates.
Considering the great mead, which won a gold award at the fair, we were not surprised that the Čehić family has bees and makes honey themselves. Twenty hives form the base for honey and mead, and like all beekeepers nowadays, there is an evil fate with diseases, so a few years ago they had to destroy the whole community and start again. This shows great love and sacrifice to keep beekeeping in Istria on a good basis, with excellent grazing and even better products, which include honey, propolis and beeswax candles. They can be tasted and bought in the family tasting room in Labinci, and during the season at the stand in the Lim Channel. The Čehić family also offer guests wine, olives, olive oil, olives in oil, canned olives and dried olive leaves prepared as a tea that lowers cholesterol.
As a novelty in the offer, we especially tried balsamic vinegar and gin. The Čehićs produce balsamic vinegar from the must of Istrian Malvasia, because there are some similarities in the wine base in Modena itself, where Ana paid a study visit and got the idea of creating her own vinegar in Labinci. For now, the vinegar is aged in a wooden barrel, but their plan is to purchase a "battery" or a set of five barrels where the vinegar is poured from the largest to the smallest in which the vinegar is concentrated. The secret recipe for all this is time because real balsamic acetto matures for at least ten years. Everyone involved in the production of this vinegar must therefore have a long vision of development, which is a rarity in Croatia, but also the right form of savings for the future and future generations. Malvasia must is cooked in copper pots for ten hours, and from one hundred litres of must, ten litres of brown concentrate of great sweetness are obtained. A little wine vinegar is added to develop the vinegar fermentation and placed to age in a wooden barrel.
We tried one year-aged vinegar, which surprises with its sweet-sour texture that goes well with light foods like carpaccio. The product is in demand, customers are satisfied, and we are happy that in Istria, full of winemakers, there is someone who has decided to make vinegar. Unfortunately, a lot of skill is needed in registering such a product, because vinegar is no longer regulated by wine regulations, but is somewhere "in the air", but the Čehić family managed to "legalize" it as a secondary activity. Fortunately, vinegar is not subject to customs and this is a big step forward for Croatian agricultural regulations.
After the vinegar, we enjoy the gin tonic. Ana prepared us a combination of 100% Kaštelir's Count's drinks tonic with her gin, with a small addition of honey and lemon. Unlike purchased gin tonics, this Kaštelir's is a bit bitter, which is especially good during the summer heat. Gin is the base of komovica brandy, which sets it apart from typical gin: “We wanted to make an atypical gin, special for this area where we live, so we decided to distil komovica so that it loses its typical smell and taste, and distil it again with berries. blue spruce from Ćićarija, anise, coriander, cumin, orange and lemon root ", says Ana Čehić. After two stages of distillation, the gin is aged for six months.
With the spread of Kaštelir gin tonic and preparation for long-term success with the production of balsamic vinegar, OPG Čehić represents the innovation and youth of the Istrian rural area, and everyone can taste these products by coming to Labinci:
Labinci 130, 52464, Kaštelir
T: 052 455 344 M: 0919141269