Saturday, 19 June 2021

Vinistra 2021: Favourite Wine Event Opens in Poreč!

June 19, 2021 - Vinistra, this year, has been a celebration of Istria´s endeavours in containing COVID. Cancelled last year and postponed this year by a month, until everyone could be sure that it was safe, this year´s exhibition has moved from its usual venue in Porec to an open-air one on the seafront, where the safety of exhibitors and visitors is easier to maintain.

The awards were presented at a ceremony a week ago in Porec´s premier Hotel Parentium and this weekend, visitors have the opportunity to sample the best of Istria´s wines over a three-day period.

Vinistra is the culmination of a period of wine events, particularly the World of Malvasija, where Malvasijas from as far afield as Lanzarote and Greece are judged separately from the other grape types. Naturally, most are from Istria, but entries also came from Italy and Slovenia as well. 

The Vinistra judging encompasses all the grape varieties available in Istria, including ones like Refosk that are popular in Slovenia, from which entries came and which got a lot of Gold Medals.  Judging this year was a little different, as Caroline Gilbey MW, who normally leads it, was stuck in the UK with restrictions and was unable to come.


It isn't just about the big names, either. Denis Bernobic, who has a small winery in Markovac, was previously little known and doesn't even have a website, carried off the supreme award, over and above a Gold Medal, for his Young Malvasija. To have done so, while competing with the biggest and best wineries in the county, was no mean feat. Over 40 Malvasijas got Gold Medals this year, reflecting the very high standard.

Terans, Istria´s other main grape, was well represented with almost 20 Gold Medals of which Marko Fakin from Brkac picked up 5. His neighbour, Klaudio Tomaz, picked up another 3 of them. The Motovun area is clearly good for growing Teran, but the skills of these winemakers make the most of it. Kozlevic, Benvenutti and Degrassi also got Golds, as well as Deklic, from Ferenci, who picked up 2. Bruno Ferenac, his neighbour, picked up another Gold. 

The lack of opportunity last year to have wine judged meant that this year many wineries submitted the wines they would have done last year, as well as those for this year. It has resulted in a greater number of entries.

Talking to winemakers about the effects of COVID on their businesses revealed that while the closure of restaurants, both here and in the export markets, obviously hit sales, many of them picked up new business domestically, as buyers bought to drink at home.

I used to think that Cuvees was just a way of blending in different wines, but the skill of these winemakers ensures that the result exceeds the sum of the parts. Deklic picked up 2 Gold Medals for his ones, with Damjanic, down in Fuskulin, getting his usual Gold for his excellent Clemente. Kozlovic, Degrassi and Rossi got Golds, as did Moreno Ivancic and Pervino from Novigrad. Damjanic also picked up the only Gold for his Borgonija. Whilst a traditional grape, it needs careful management and bunches removing to maintain the best of the remaining ones.

Cabernet Francs were less well represented, with another Ferenci winemaker, Julio Ferenac, picking up a Gold for his, alongside Degrassi´s well-known Contarini from Savudrija. Fiore, from Barboj, were the only other entry and got a Silver.

Deklic has done well this year, as he picked up a Gold for his Cabernet Sauvignon, as did Pino Rossi from Bajkini. Rossi´ś cousins, also at Bajkini, picked up a Gold for their Chardonnay, as did Franko Cattunar at Nova Vas.

Siljan, from Marcana, another lesser know winery, got a Gold Medal Plus, for their Merlot, and Deklic, again, got another Gold for his, alongside Tomaz and Medea with Angelo Brcic getting a well-deserved one for his Merlot Barrique.

Benvenutti got a special Gold for his San Salvatore Muscat. That guy makes the best proper dessert wines in the county. Klaudio Tomaz picked up 2 more Golds for his 2018 and 2020 Muscats . Capo, from Fernetici, got a Special Gold for his Yellow Muscat.

The exhibition is well laid out, allowing for a degree of social distancing and being held later in the day, offers a particularly pleasant view across the bay.. This year, following an earlier tradition but missing in recent years, the price of admission includes a glass, which you can keep. It is also part of their thinking to keep patrons safe. Hastily rinsed out hired glasses weren't considered ideal.

This year, there aren't any food events and there isn't a lecture programme, but, overall, they have made a good job of organising it in difficult circumstances.

For more on lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 23 April 2021

12th World of Malvasia: International Evaluation for Vinistra

April 24, 2021 - The best overture for Vinistra is the international evaluation of the World of Malvasia, which took place for the 12th time, in the Parentium Plava Laguna hotel in Poreč, which from year to year breaks records in terms of quality and number of samples. Thus, 435 samples of wine and spirits arrived for this year's evaluation, of which 220 samples were Malvasia.

As hrturizam.hr reports, a new name on the wine scene, Denis Bernobić from Markovac near Višnjan, won the championship title in the category of fresh Malvasia. Competing with three other top Malvasias, his wine took the win. This is also the biggest surprise at evaluating wine and spirits and the 12th World of Malvasia, which was traditionally held in mid-April at the Parentium Plava Laguna Hotel in Poreč.

"The lineage has always been the foundation of the existence of us Istrians. My family has been in winemaking for four generations, but the focus has been on top-quality wines for the last few years. The championship title is a great success, I must admit a surprise, but also recognition and encouragement to continue in the same direction", said Denis Bernobić.

Malvasia Collina from the 2016 winery Cattunar from Nova Vas near Brtonigla is the champion in the category of mature Malvasia; Teran Barbarossa, Vina Tomaz from Motovun, won the championship title in the fresh Teran category; while in the mature category, that title went to the wine of Santa Lucia from 2018. Kozlović Winery from Momjan.

In the category of mature refoška, ​​the champion is Capo d’Istria from 2013, Slovenian Vinakoper, and five big gold medals were awarded to wines that won more than 92 points. These are the 2015 San Salvatore Muscat White Benvenuti wines from Caldir; Muscat yellow from 2019. Capo wine from Fernetić; Malvasia volcanica from 1956 by Spanish manufacturer El Grifo Canari; Merlot from 2017 Siljan wines from Krnica, and Aura biska extra from 2021 from the Buzet distillery Aura also won big gold.

"We are extremely pleased that we have managed to organize such a demanding competition in these unusual times. I am pleased with the top quality of the champion wines and the fact that as many as five wines crossed the threshold of 92 points and won great gold", said Nikola Benvenuti in front of Vinistra.

Another 139 gold and 16 silver medals were awarded, while other manufacturers received diplomas. This year, the right to the IQ label - Istrian quality was exercised by 24 winemakers for Malvasia and seven winemakers for Teran. 

The IQ - Istrian quality label is primarily intended to label high-quality wines produced from Istrian and Teran Malvasia grapes and encourage the development of production of these indigenous wines, raising the level of their quality production technologies and promotion and sales on the domestic and world markets. The IQ mark enables the consumer to recognize those Istrian wines whose quality is higher than the quality prescribed by the law for quality wines with the geographical origin and higher than what the customer usually requires and expects.

This is a unique, active wine control system in Croatia where winemakers themselves gradually raise the scoring threshold for wines bearing the IQ - Istrian Quality label to standardize and increase product quality. The IQ label guarantees an active quality control system that takes place on four levels: in the vineyard (yield control), in the cellar (vinification control), chemical analysis, and organoleptic evaluation, and after the label is awarded, market control is performed.

This is precisely how the quality of the wine region is strategically raised and branded. It is important to emphasize that the Association of Winemakers and Winegrowers of Istria was founded in 1994. Therefore, it is a continuous process and strategic goal of raising Istrian wines and branding Istria as a wine region.

Great results and championship titles are the best announcement of the 27th Vinistra, which is being held in the open air for the first time this year, in the Peškera bay in Poreč. Although it was initially announced that the 27th in a row Vinistra will be held from 7 to 9 May in Poreč, due to the epidemiological situation throughout Croatia, the organizers announced that they are changing the date and place of the event.

The exact date is not yet known. For now, the focus is on June. The organizers of Vinistra are optimistic and do not give up on organizing this year's Vinistra.

To find out more about Croatian Wine, click HERE

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Should 0,5 Remain Alcohol Limit For Drivers in Croatia? Istrian Winemakers Worried of Wine Industry Hit

April 13, 2021 - This year or no later than 2023, the new National Road Safety Plan 2020 to 2030 should be implemented in practice. The plan is so far just a proposal, and one of the suggestions is to reduce the so far allowed 0.5 alcohol limit for drivers in Croatia to 0.0.

However, as Goran Rihelj reports for Hr.Turizam, Istrian winemakers think that 0.5 should remain the upper limit as they fear this will be another blow to winemakers and winegrowers.

„With a corona crisis that has no end in sight and an average drop in wine sales in Istrian wineries of 30 percent, this could be an additional blow to our sector. Istria has positioned itself as a top end-gastro destination with the quality of wine and offer, and we believe that our country should harmonize the National Road Safety Plan with European wine countries such as Italy and France, where 0,5 is allowed, while in Great Britain, for example, 0,8“, said Nikola Benvenuti, President of Vinistra.

Istrian winegrowers and winemakers point out they advocate responsible alcohol consumption but think 0.0 should be the law only for young drivers (defined by the current law of Traffic safety as a driver of 24 years of age) and professional drivers.

Prof. dr. sc. Mladen Boban from the Medical Faculty in Split, who has been researching the biological effects of wine on health for years, says this change would contradict other action plans and strategic documents with whom Croatia plans to increase awareness of the general population about the benefits of Mediterranian cuisine.

"It should not be forgotten that moderate drinking of wine with food is one of the pillars of this diet with the relatively largest contribution to the beneficial effects on health. In this context, it is important to note that in 2013, at the initiative of Croatia and six other Mediterranean countries, UNESCO inscribed the Mediterranean diet in the intangible cultural heritage of mankind. The World Health Organization accepts the Mediterranean diet as an effective strategy for the prevention of non-communicable chronic diseases as the leading causes of premature death globally", Concluded Professor Boban for Hr.turizam.

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pixabay

In an article in 2019 Croatian Automobile Club magazine Revija HAK  reported that in the eight of the top fatal car crashes from 2016-2018, the leading cause was driving in the opposite direction, which happens due to driving too fast. The article also states that in the said period, 12.989 traffic accidents were caused by drivers under the influence of alcohol. In that number of traffic accidents, 235 persons were killed, and 1,709 were heavily injured, while light injuries due to "drink & drive" are owned to a number of 5,524 incidents. Statistically, drunk drivers are responsible for every fourth death, according to the article in Revija Hak.

In total, Croatia saw 883 traffic accidents with fatal consequences, and 955 people died in the 2016-2018 time spawn.

While winemakers and professor Boban advocate moderate drinking, sadly, the issue of actually respecting the current limit and personal limits of intoxication before sitting behind the wheel remains questionable for Croatian drivers. However, is reducing the allowed alcohol limit enough to make a difference remains unclear.

Learn more about Driving in Croatia on our TC page

For more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

27th Vinistra Wine Manifestation Comes Back to Poreč in May 2021

March 2, 2021 – Good news for all wine lovers, experts, and winemakers, as the 27th Vinistra wine manifestation will take place from 7 to 9 May 2021 in Poreč, together with its traditional overture, 12th International Evaluation "World of Malvasia."

If there are no surprises and if the epidemiological measures allow it, the 27th Vinistra wine manifestation will be held this year after a one-year break due to the coronavirus pandemic. The preparations are underway, and this year's organizers have a somewhat more difficult task because everything should follow the Headquarters' measures and recommendations.

"As we did not hold the traditional En Primeur in Zagreb this year due to epidemiological measures, Vinistra will be an excellent opportunity to present new vintage wines, excellent in all characteristics, especially for red varieties. For us winemakers, the only positive side of 2020 was the exceptional harvest. The last two years have hit the wine and tourism sector hard, so we are very much looking forward to this year's event, meeting our partners, customers, and lovers of Istrian wines," said Nikola Benvenuti, president of Vinistra, winemakers' association, and winegrower.

He adds that the location and accompanying program will depend on epidemiological measures.

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Vinistra

Traditionally, the best overture for Vinistra is the international evaluation named the World of Malvasia, which will be held for the 12th time, from April 12 to 16, 2021, at the Parentium Plava Laguna Hotel in Poreč. Year after year, the World of Malvasia breaks records in quality and number of samples.

"The informal world championship of the most famous Istrian variety is being held this year as part of a three-day international evaluation of wine and spirits, which brings together the most famous wine experts from Croatia and the region. Of course, everything will be in line with epidemiological measures because our health and safety come first. As usual, the evaluation results will be made public as part of the 27th Vinistra," says Benvenuti.

As 24sata recalls, the traditional Vinistra fair was held in the Žatika hall in Poreč for years before the tradition was interrupted for the first time last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Almost all important politicians, presidents, businessmen used to come to Vinistra, as well as those who wanted to be photographed or filmed by journalists while they are enjoying the top drops of 'grape' juice.

Vinistra is a regional and international exhibition of Istrian wines and equipment for viticulture and winemaking. The longest-running exhibition of this type is traditionally held in the Istrian town of Poreč. The fair consists of an evaluation and exhibition part, and besides wine, olive oils and brandies are also evaluated.

Istria is continually improving wine quality and is a top eno-gastronomic destination. This is confirmed by the constant increase in the number of indigenous varieties' samples, more quality of average wine samples, and new names awarded by an expert jury every year.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Vinistra 2019 – Innovative Gourmet Event with Top Istrian Wines

The 26th edition of Vinistra, perhaps the most important Croatian wine festival, also offers excellent food. Istrians know quite well that cod and wine are fantastic when paired together, and this exceptional combination was presented in a somewhat more modern version in the third part of the Istrian Delicacies workshop.

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Twins Ana and Marija Kovač, chefs at the Laguna Park Hotel in Poreč, discovered an explosion of tastes in cod dishes produced by the Milena craft, while Ivan Vrdoljak, the young sommelier at Plava Laguna, took care for an excellent wine selection. The ice cream with Oliveto cod and olive oil powder was paired with Zigante’s sparkling wine Chloe Brut, while marinated anchovies with apple apples, mint and Picantino cod were paired with 2018 Malvazija Herak & Smoljan.

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Next, black focaccia sandwiches and pickled vegetables with Oliveto cod were served with 2017 Malvazija Ritorno by Lunika Vina. Tartufino cod with avocado mousse, pancetta chips and red Istrian soil was paired with the only Istrian Crna Malvasia from 2015 produced by Motovun wine master Klaudio Tomaz, and the event ended with raw beet ravioli with white cod and sheep milk cheese served with 2015 Plavac Mali, not from Dalmatia but from the island of Krk, or more precisely from the Vina Katunar cellars in Vrbnik.

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The workshop led by journalist and gastronomy connoisseur Davor Šišović discussed the pairing of Istrian dishes with wines. “In Istria, the tradition is to drink wines with cured meat products made from pork. But, when you drink a sip of wine with a bit of prosciutto or a slice of sausage, by the time you swallow the food, the wine and all of its flavours are long gone. That is why we have worked together with prosciutto producer Jelenić to prepare spreads of prosciutto, sausages, “žlomprt” and pancetta, which we paired with cuvees of Istrian red and white wines – Mozaik 2015 by Alfred Cossetto, Caldierosso 2016 by Benvenuti, Moro 2016 by Marino Rossi, Damjanić’s Clemente Crni 2015, Cuvee 2013 by Ritoša, and Matošević’s Grimalda Crna 2016. These are insufficiently explored, but excellent wines. I think this is the path both prosciutto and wine producers should follow,” said Šišović.

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Paolo Jelenić agreed and announced the possibility of producing such spreads for the market. For the Wines of Istria workshop, aimed at foreign guests who do not speak Croatian and do not know much about Istrian wines, sommelier Filip Savić selected fresh Malvasias Coronica and Kozlović, and Damjanić’s 2016 Malvazija Akacija, and fresh Muškat Prelac, 2016 Merlot Festigia by Vina Laguna , Tomaz’s 2015 Teran Barbarossa, and for the end, Muškat with dried berries, also by Prelac.

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On the second day, Vinistra awarded diplomas for student wines made by students of the Winemaking Studies in Poreč and for the sommeliers of the Croatian Sommelier Club. Presenting the challenges of the sommelier profession, Ines Matić and Filip Božić used the workshop on sommelier courses to send a message – taste the wines, enjoy them every day because every wine is interesting; sharpen your senses and discover new experiences.

More wine news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

All phots by Danilo Dragosavac

Monday, 14 May 2018

Vinistra: Legendary Steven Spurrier Thrilled with Malvasia

At the masterclass workshop led by the renowned British wine critic, the sensational Malvasias demonstrated all their power and beauty, as well as an extraordinary richness of tastes.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Vinistra Breaking Records in its 25th Year

Record number of samples and exhibitors will make the important anniversary an even bigger deal

Friday, 27 May 2016

A Look Back at Vinistra 2016

We are delighted to welcome Peter Ellis to the TCN team on May 27, 2016. Peter has lived in Istria since records began and is a successful real estate agent, as well as a writer on Istrian food and wine. We start with a look back at Vinistra 2016.

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