Where better in southern Istria for a light lunch and a bit of wine-tasting than Bruno Trapan’s Food & Wine Station? Indeed, this is the best wine in southern Istria.To be honest, there’s not a lot of competition for that title, most of Istria’s wineries being further north, but that’s all the more reason to visit, surely! We first tasted Trapan wines a few years back at a Dalmatian Wine Expo. It was pretty good, and since then, the range has expanded and the quality steadily increased. Over the winter, we went to a special wine-maker / celebrity chef dinner at Boškinac, featuring Trapan wines. Now that’s an excellent way to learn more about the wines, and how they pair with food. So now here we are at the winery to learn more.
Located in Šišan, the winery is painted an exuberant bright orange, well in keeping with the winemaker’s personality and approach to marketing! In a way Bruno Trapan reminds me of Randal Grahm of Bonny Doon Winery in California. Both have a wonderfully evocative way of describing their wines – and so entertaining that you’re just dying to taste them! There’s not many winemakers in Croatia with that sense of how to communicate with their customers, indeed Bruno must be one of a kind anywhere! The day we visited was towards the end of harvest, and they’d all been hard at work since early in the morning over several days. However, he took the time to come and talk with us, and make us feel welcome.
There were several different levels of wine-tasting options – we chose one premium tasting and one combination wine with olive oil tasting. That way, we could cover the full range. And along with that, we ordered a light lunch – ceviche of tuna, and a seared tuna salad. I have to say both were absolutely wonderful, and the presentation was delightful! I loved the julienne vegetables, just lightly pan-fried and very fresh and tasty!
And along with the food, our wine tasting. Here’s the wines being poured on the day we visited (except the dessert wine), not quite in the order of pouring.
I’m going to quote some of the tasting notes from the Trapan website here, along with our own impressions. I do love that they tell you so much more of the background for each wine than you usually get, even down to which Riedel glass to use. OK, maybe getting just a tad pretentious?
Malvazija Istarska Ponente ’17
A lovely light Istrian Malvazija with lime leaves and minerals. Fresh and floral, this paired excellently with our tuna lunch. Would also be very drinkable on its own as an aperitif.
“As in traditional restaurants, taverns and wine bars, Ponente in its stylistics and equipment (screw cap) also has an entry to the terraces, discos and nightclubs, the stands of sporting events, the places where you will meet its author, who like the wine feels at home in these places.”
Rubi Rose Cuvee ’17
Mostly Teran (70%), but also Syrah (10%), Merlot (10%), and Cabernet Sauvignon (10%). Light rosé, named after Trapan’s older daughter Rubi. It’s a fresh, light rosé wine, floral with a slight savoury taste. Also went excellently with the tuna salad and I think would be versatile with many kinds of food, or indeed would stand perfectly on its own.
“A floral firecracker that explodes and turns into an earthy beetroot aromatic complexity. In the mouth freshness, grapefruit-raspberry-coloured coat is lost in the middle of minerality, long aftertaste.”
CHE non CHE sparkling ’14
100% Teran, made using the classic method, this sparkling wine has a stronger flavour than the Rubi rosé, heading more towards darker fruit and berries, a little yeast/bread and a more definite savoury umami flavour.
” Aperitif wine, which will force you to look for food, and then pair very well with the first part of the menu, especially cold appetizers of meat, fish and vegetarian ingredients.”
Nigra Virgo Revolution cuvee ’15
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (45%), Merlot (35%), Syrah (10%), Teran (10%). Now we’re getting on to the really dark wines!
“Teranic freshness, florality and youth, complemented with a serious extractivity and tannicity from Cabernet Sauvignon, leaning on the fruitiness and pepper from Syrah, finishes with Merlot fruity softness. But Teran, the flagship of this and all future red and rose wines from the Trapan winery dominates and essentially determines this wine.”
Terra Mare Teran ’16
100% Teran. Named after Mare, the younger daughter of the family, and a reference to the vineyards being close to the sea. Robust, dark, dark red berries and a touch of spice, with purple notes and pine branch. Really lovely wine, soft tannins and red fruit.
“Under a light coal smoke, the first smell pierces with sanguinacio, budin noir, black pudding mixed with finochio, smoked pork sausage with fennel.”
Malvazija Istarska Uroboros ’15
100% Istrian Malvazija. Cold maceration for 72 hours, after pressing, spontaneous fermentation in barriques of acacia and oak. Aged for 11 months in acacia barrels. This malvazija is more complex than the Ponente, with flavours of apple, some meadow flowers and herbal notes.
“Ripe pear and green apple with drops of honey, sage and chamomile tea, elderflower, sprinkled pinch of sage, rosemary and “fior di sale”, followed by a broad and long aftertaste of noble bitter almond. The wine lasts and lasts, and leaves a minerally salty touch on the lips.”
Malvazija Istarska Istraditional ’15
Istrian Malvazija made the traditional way! The crushed berries are allowed to ferment spontaneously, with no temperature control, for nine days before pressing. “Just like our grandfathers did it!” said Bruno. He prefers to call it amber rather than orange. After pressing the wine matured for 12 months in used barriques, and then at least four more months in the bottle before release. Istraditional is unfiltered and appears a beautiful hazy, golden yellow in the glass. On the nose first a hint of forest floor, then roast quince with almonds, caramel, dried apricot and honey. This wine has dried apples, apple skins and overtones of orange peel, finishing with a hint of apricot conserve. There are tannins but well integrated, and a lot of minerality. This is a nice big-bodied complex white that would pair with many different kinds of food, including spicy curries. Really loved this wine!
The One cuvee ’15
Blend of Teran (50%), Syrah (50%) This is a big, full-bodied red, produced in honour of Bruno’s 37th birthday! He says the Syrah and Teran are still not fully settled and occasionally one dominates, then at the next tasting, the other. When we tasted it, they seemed to have decided to work together. This is a huge cuddly beast of a wine. Lots of dark red fruit, black cherries, pepper and spices, Mediterranean herbs and minerals. A combination of Teran and Syrah, it really works beautifully. And as a special commemorative wine, it’s packaged in a heavy bottle, with luxuriously velvety labels in 6 different designs (collect the set!) Outstanding wine!
After a fun afternoon exploring Trapan wines, it’s off to Rovinj!