Updated: Oct 25, 2021
The Istrian capricorn is viciously watching us as we tour the animals on the Collis household, located between Rovinj and Buje. At first unnoticeable, his horns protrude beneath the tree canopy. This almost mythical animal is referred to as a local animal by the people, and at Collis everyone is proud that the tradition of breeding Istrian goats in this area has been maintained. Known for their beards by both male and female goats, this breed is a symbol of Istria. It is in her coat of arms, but rarely does the Istrian household care for goats today.
This concern for autochthony is how Stancija Collis, a wonderful household in the midst of nature, works, known for its wines and cheeses and donkey milk. We are greeted by the barking of dogs and the smiling Juraj Mastilović, the proud heir to the idea conceived by his father, Mirko. Not so long ago in 1988, Mirko and Carmen Mastilović spent their weekends surrounded by forests, vines and olive trees, in the peace and beauty that Istria abounds. As it usually is, the hobby has become a business, especially after Juraj became a winemaking engineer in 2015.
We walk on a stone wall from which boasts a beautiful view of Rovinj, Vodnjan, the sea and Brijuni islands. Next to us, grapevines spill over, and the magic of greenery and blue sea in the background is breath-taking and leaves you just enjoying the cultivated nature of Istria. Below us are olive groves, and this year they have done amazingly well. Extra virgin olive oil Collis is a blend of buža, pendolino, leccino, rossignola and Istrian bjelics, and when we tried it we felt an intense herbal scent and moderate bitterness, which ultimately gives a wonderful taste of dipping bread in it on the terrace of Mastilović's home, under dense leaves and kiwi fruits.
In order not only to make the olive oil the centre of interest, the kind and cheerful Mrs. Carmen did her best to bring us slices of cheese and Istrian sausages. All cheese is mixed, goat and cow. Creamy chevres cheese is also made according to the French recipe. We do not question the originality of these products, because we have visited goats and cows, in housing that is incredibly clean. Next to the cows is also the Boškarin, the Istrian ox, whose mild eyes conquers the hearts of visitors. The donkeys who roam the forest, milk and live happily on the homestead are also near, until one day they become part of the gastronomic offer. Namely, the Istrian sausage is made here from the donkey. Father Mirko bought two donkeys to clean the woods, and naturally the idea came to start making donkey milk. Step by step, people started to show up and take donkey milk, which is very healthy and helps with many ailments.
The former garage is now a wine cellar. The specialty of the winery is the natural process of wine production. Juraj studied winemaking, where he learned the base of this art. He worked at the Zvonko Bogdan winery in Serbia, at the Matošević winery, and in New Zealand, where he worked in the South Island. The climate in that area is similar to Istrian. On the South Island, Sauvignon Blanc, a variety that suits warm weather during the day and cold at night, excels. The experience gained in New Zealand has shown Juraj what the industry is about wine production, what it aims for, and how winemakers make wines solely for profit. "It would not fulfil me. I was looking for other things, biodynamics and biological wine production. My philosophy and vision are that the wine must be as natural as possible, that it is healthy and resembles wine, "Juraj tells us. Some winemakers will wave their hand and say that it is possible to have natural wine for a couple of days, after which it goes into vinegar. However, there are plenty of natural wines that can mature. Juraj puts some sulphur in the wine before just bottling, and until December or January puts nothing into the wine, with a minimum amount of yeast.
As a result, Stancia Collis produces potable and natural wine. The refreshing Malvasia is full of natural aromas and the taste is creamy. It has the aroma typical of Malvasia, which is a characteristic of natural and local yeasts. Originality is very important, Juraj tells us, and it is surprising that it is possible to have Malvasia Istrian with yeasts from South Africa from Sauvignon Blanc, so that Malvasia smells of bananas, pineapple, mango. Malvasia is what old grandpas do, Juraj says, and warns that he would rather go to old folk and try their wine, which is not aromatic. Sauvignon and Muscat are aromatic varieties, but the trend in Istria is to try to make Malvasia something it is not. The knowledge of old people is thus being transferred to modern winemaking technology. At Stancija Collis, therefore, they do real Malvasia and call it Malvažija. This wine solution is important because the true Malvasia of Istria has begun to fade, but younger winemakers want to restore the originality of this typical Istrian white wine. And microlocation plays a role here. In the Rovinj area, the wines are calm, have less sugar than, for example, Bujština. Wines are easily drinkable, with less alcohol.
The Teran Rose 2018 has a stronger colour, again due to the non-filtration process. Fresh and fruity, this Rose is right between white and red wine. Juraj considered this Rose to pair well with shrimp risotto, squid, black risotto, shellfish, fish pate, strawberries. The pale and pink, semi-dry and sweet Rose do not delight Juraj, because Rose is not just a woman's wine. A very special wine is Vita, whose label shows the fingerprint of Juraj’s daughter Vita, same as on the tattoo on his hand, which Juraj proudly shows to us.
Trinitas is a black blend of Merlot, Teran, and Cabernet Sauvignon, called the Holy Trinity at Collis. The peculiarity of this wine is that, after 25 days of maceration, it matures for a year in barrique barrels. Like other wines we have tasted, Trinitas has a particularly light note, but also a rich fruity taste. Teran certainly gives some weight to this wine, and there is probably no Istrian vineyard that would overlook this traditional red wine variety. Stancija Collis also boasts the award for the best Istrian soup. This is a new event related to Antonja (St. Anthony’s Day) in Rovinjsko selo. They make traditional soup and thus participate in the opening of the carnival season in this part of Istria.
This beautiful destination is excellent for everyone who wants to enjoy peace and nature, good food and even better wine, and everything you have to do is announce your arrival on this contact:
Sarižol 11, 52210 Rovinj
+385 98 944 8970