BRUNO TRAPAN: WINE STATION TRAPAN, SISAN,PULA,ISTRA 

A personal view: 

Bruno,i met first at the London Wine Fair,working on the Croatian Stand, on my first visit,at the then invite by my friends Franko & Danijela,Radovan.

Bruno invited me to visit him at his Wine Station.I've been 3 times so far.The last was in September 2015.

Bruno Trapan,family man,married with two young daughters,one,his youngest,whom he says is more interested in helping on his vineyard,and picked a full basket of grapes at the last harvest,whilst the older daughter managed just half.(Well,Franko Radovan's son ,whose the youngest of their two children,works with his father,learning the trade.)

Bruno told me his Grandfather gave him a parcel of land with building permission,which Bruno later sold,allowing him to buy land suitable for growing grapes.He went to university to learn his trade.

Bruno has also put his hand in his own pocket to sponsor others.Musician(and my friend,)Davor Terzic,of Rovinj,informed me,Bruno helped sponsor him to "cut" his first C.D.

Production at Wine Station Trapan varies between 50,000 and 70,000 bottles.And just before my visit he sold just over 1000 bottles of his 2012 production of his "CHE",his first sparkling "Method Champagne" wine,to the Californians' in the United States of America.

I had previously had chance to sample it on an earlier visit in 2013.I recall Soft Bubbles,Fresh Raspberries on the Nose,Alpine Strawberries with cream on the Palate.YUMMY!! I bought a few bottles at the time.He had just 18 bottles left on my last visit.Bruno gave me a gift of one,this visit,personally adding its label himself,by hand.(It reminded me of Franko and Danijela Radovan once telling me,when their children were younger,adding bottle labels to earn their pocket-money.)

Total production with a top end of 70,000 bottles is rather small compared to other producers,Bruno admits,but then he say's to me,Quality over Quantity,whilst comparing to one of his wine friends.

So what about export to the U.K,-i ask?Well Bruno like others in Istra,have abandoned one U.K. Importer,based in Sussex,due to lack of Sales,and understanding.He tells me,The British want it cheap.But his production is fairly low,compared to others in Croatia,and therefore cost more to produce.However,having been to the U.S.A. with other Croats from Istra,his quality wines sell at source from 100Kuna(£10,)a bottle,and he has found interest especially from the Californian's,whom he say's,can't get enough!

What of new production,I ask?Well its been taking over two year's of gentle maturing,Limited to 2000 bottles,using French Oak Barrels,and comes with it's own catchy sentence.Bruno looks to the U.S.A. Market, whom pay as much as 400 Kuna (£40,) a bottle.(And that's All I'm allowed to say,-at the moment!) 

UPDATE: Bruno has bottled his new wine product , and the bottles are painted

I'll be back in September... too see which  "One",,(or maybe it be, two.) i like....

 FRANKO RADOVAN: Radovani 14,RADOVANI,Visnjan,Istra.

As stated in the introduction of my page on wine producers,I've known Franko Radovan and his family since 1998.

Franko has dedicated his life to the wine business.Now in his early 40's ,he graduated from agricultural college,and since the age of 22 has been engaged professionally in the wine business,taking over a well established family enterprise.

In 1992 he planted his first Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay,as well as additional Malvisia.First vintage from those fruits was in 1998.

On his way to producing 50,000 bottles or more,yield vineyard,Franko Radovan.A man with passion and of few words,most might say.Franko has won several awards at wine events locally in Istra and Croatia for his Malvisia.He has produced an un-oaked Chardonnay,has Rofosk,a red wine(which is an autochthonous Istrian variety of Teran,)And is a great producer of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.Infact his Cabernet Sauvignon could easily be on the wine list of any high- end quality restaurant,if only he produced enough of it for export! 

Franko,I last met in person in September 2015(though we had a brief chat on the phone in February this year,before i conversed with his wife Danijela,whom studied English as a language. Franko is fluent in Italian and German,and currently is mastering english.though is better than my Croat.)When we met in September,he'd just been to the doctor's,having that morning just mentioned to his family he'd taken a tumble from his tractor onto a stone wall,about 5 day's earlier.I found him,with his family,assisting in pressing the recently picked harvest, now with his chest strapped in bandages,having discovered he'd broken 2 ribs.So much passion this man has got,to work-on in some pain,to be with his vines at harvest time,and work towards premium wines for future release!

Franko does now have a couple of employees' working with him in the last year or so,since his business has taken-off. He sells regulary to 2 hotels in Serbia,I understand,and to other European Countries, as well as to his local Croats.His son,is also learning the wine trade,and working alongside his father,so to keep the business in the family.

In recent years Franko has planted more Merlot and Rofosk.But his main money earner is Malvisia,and white wines in general. Currently,plans are afoot to increase the wineary and build a purpose built cellar and showroom,next to the exisiting one.

Franko told me in September,he plans to visit London,and the Wine Fair(Trade Only,) in 2 year's time.His wines were first displayed at the event in 2010 by a Brighton-based Company,who had tied him in to a 5 year contract,along with other Istra producers,such as Bruno Trapan. That was the year Franko asked me to be his "Spy",and take time from work and be his representative,as at the time,Franko was not employing anyone,unlike today,when he employees a couple of workers on his wineary.

White wines:Malvasia and Chardonnay. Red Wines:Rofosk,Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot,have been produced in past years.When i spoke on the telephone in early february,this year(2016,),the Radovan Family had sold out of all wines, and were eagerly awaiting the release of their 2013 Red Wines(an exceptional year,)and their 2014 White wines.

In "Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book,2014(I quote,)"Radovan 1st r w.** -*** 09 11.Excellent Family Producer of impeccable whites and superb CAB SAUV and MERLOT ".(un-quote.)

Us Brit's  prefer drinking more Red than White wines, as there is a lack of red wines produced in the U.K.due mainly to the climate,whereas we produce some top quality sparkling, award winning, white wines,in the Counties of Cornwall & Sussex and Kent.

Franko's dream is to produce an excellent red,a coupage that everyone will appreciate. I personally think he is certain to produce such,very soon,if not already, as his 2007 and 2009,and 2011, were excellent.

Hopefully,2017 and London, will make his dream come true! 

IVICA MATOSEVIC  VINA MATOSEVIC d.o.o. TOMASSINIJEVA 7,,PULA,Istra.

I first met Ivica ,whom was with Bruno Trapan,at the London Wine Fair,when it was staged at Excel,in London .

In 1997,Ivica produced his first wine. He started wine making from learning from books,and without any family tradition in wine making. His father was the director of Pula's water supply company,and his mother,a chemist.(So not having a vineyard,to him,was not a problem.)

Landscaping was his profession.In Italy he got his phD,and from then on in, developed a passion for wine and wine making,and invested in the production of growing grapes for wine.He studied Agriculture and Biotechnology,as well as Landscaping,in Zagreb.

He is President of Vinistra,the Istrian Wine Makers Association,which annually holds an event in Porec,and is attended by around a hundred or so members,and organizes wine exhibits.

He also encouraged the scientific study of Istrian Malvasia,which led to the first Vinistra International Malvasia Competition.

He produces from vineyards on the hills of Grimalda,north of Pazin,in central Istra, and grows Malvasia,Chardonnay,Sauvignon Blanc,Merlot & Refosk varieties.These are grown on the Red Soil of Istra,and at a higher altitude,and therefore a cooler climate, to those grown in the Pula area.

Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book 2014(I quote,)"1st r w **-***08,09, 10,11,Benchmark Malvisia,esp Alba Robinia.Also v.gd Grimalda(r)08,10 and white.(un-quote.)

During 2015 early 16,his white wines were served on International routes of Croatia Airlines.I know,as i flew to Croatia with them, from London,and was witness to the distinct markings of Ivica's bottles on the drinks trolley. 

MORENO DEGRASSI. DEGRASSI d.o.o. BASANIJA BB.52475 SAUVDRIJA.Istra

Moreno started wine production in 1980, for the needs of his restaurant. In 1996 he introduced cold fermentation in his cellar and labeled bottles for the first time.

In 2007 he planted 5 new varieties of grape.He has always been interested in white Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier,and the red Pinot Noir,Petit Verdot and Syrah.

He produced for the first time in Istra a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon,Cabernet Franc and Merlot,and at one time(even adding Teran,)produced at the time the greatest red in all of Istra.

In 2010 he thought of adding Terre Bianche with Syrah and Petit Verdot.

His vineyards,on the white Istrian soil,are at Buje,his birthplace, but his big cellar and tasting room is at Sauvdrija,where he got married.

He will be 57 at the end of 2017.He likes to cook,and resents it when food isn't prepared well.He also produces an additional product:Grappa Buiese. 

FRANKO KOZLOVIC.KOZLOVIC V.I.P.VINA,VALE 78,52462,MOMJAN,Istra 

Franko Kozlovic, One of the pioneers of the early 1990's of Istrian Wine .Franko's estate is not far from Momjan. 

Franko toured French and Italian wine makers and completed courses where he learned everything about new technologies. He broke the boundries,including getting his father,Armando,already an esteemed winemaker to accept modern technologies in the wine making business.

In 1998 his Malvasia was the first Istrian wine in Croatia to be declared the best white wine in Croatia at the Zagreb Fair Vinovita.

He built a new cellar on land his grandparents had walked upon,on a steep hillside.He is also famous for his semi-dry Momjan Muscat.

One of his first innovations at Santa Lucia in 2010,was to build a 3000 Litre Barrel.In 2010,he marketed more than 100,000 bottles of wine.His goal has been to keep increasing production at a rate of about 20% per year!

His additional products :Grappa Lacrime(Komovica brandy from Momjan Muscat.)Kozlovic Olive Oil(Blend of Pendolina,Bianca Istriana and Bjelica Varieties.) 

DANIJEL KRALJEVIC CUJ.LEONI d.o.o.ZEMLJORADNICKA 11,UMAG,Istra 

 CUJ, the brand name of Danijel Kraljevic. He is 43.Graduated from the college of wine industry in Porec.His first vintage from 2006 was dedicated to young wines.Wine Connoisseurs and restaurant owners have taken a liking to CUJ.

At 21 he opened a family tavern opposite a local Fire station, and turned it into a classy restaurant.He became a self-taught chef,and ran the restaurant for 15 years.In the meantime his wife started helping out.

He has been listed in the World guide L'Extravergine for his Olive oil production.

In 2010 he was making two varieties of Malvasia,one fresh and fruit centred,and the other well-structured,and two varieties of Teran.One classic and one more robust.Also a White Muscat,on a line between Semi-dry and Semi-sweet.

His vineyards are located in the UMAG Hinterlands have been splendidly positioned on three types of soil,primarily white and red,and partly black - which explanes the colours of his logo-each tiny square within the name CUJ represents one of these colours.

CUJ orginates from the story that it used to be his grandpa's nickname as he often used to say-CUJ,da ti recem...(Listen,let me tell you...)

His Malvasia he makes it in a coupage of three varieties that have undergone a separate vinification process - the one grown on the white soil processes Floral flavour and harmony.The one grown on red soil has got Structure,and the one grown on black soli yields wine with traditional organoleptic details.Grapes are macerated for 15 days without any additives.It ages in large wooden casks for a year,and another six months in the bottles.It is similar to the aged Teran,except that in this case he has been applying malolatic fermintation.

Extra product produced:Extra Virgin Olive Oil. 

ELIDO PILATO,LASICI 2,52447,VIZINADA,Istra 

 Elido worked for a marketing firm orginally and left it to devote himself full time to grape growing and wine making.

Wine making was already a family business,that ran smoothly in a village in Istra in the Hinterland of Porec.The family then owned six hectares of vineyards.

At the start they made Malvasia wine and a blend of Teran and Burgundy,until Elido planted his vineyard with Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc in the years of 1993 and 1994,and later with Cabernet Sauvignon and White Muscat grape.He was one of the first winemakers whom installed a cooling system in his cellar.

He started to bottle his wine in 1996 and produced around One Thousand bottles,out of four carloads of wine his family made.But his Chardonnay  in 2001 was awarded the Prize "Studec" at the Zagreb wine fair,Vinovita as best wine in Croatia.Elido's wines suddingly were in demand!

He then went to do a presentation in Belgium,for the Benelux Countries.

Malvasia wine has been his greatest asset.His wines have in past years been on display at the London Wine Fair, and the company Croatian Fine Wines(then based in Wales,U.K.)started importing them.They also introduced the retailer Marks & Spencer,to Pilato's wines,and so his wines were then stocked on the shelves of their U.K. stores ,which has grown his Public following! 

FRANC ARMAN, NARDUCI 5,52447,VIZINADA,Istra

Franc enjoys hunting and feasting,from time to time,and sometimes takes to the thermal resorts of Catez and Tuhelj. Franc Arman has always remained close to his land and village,in Narduci,situated in North-West Istra,and spreading over the mild slopes that rise above the Mirna Valley.

He worked as an employee at a large Insurance company until the mid-Nineties.He became restless and decided to follow the path of his father Edurdo,thus starting a wine business with him.

It took him a while to get his father to engage in the modern wine technologies.Since 2001,he has been engaged in the wine business.

Franc is the Fifth generation of the Arman family engaged in wine-growing,and his son Oliver is has joined him in the business.

It took a while to get his wines sold in large quantities,as he had not the money like other wine producers,to advertise his wines.But slowly,Wine Connisseurs and consumers in general gave him credit for what he produced.

He took a loan from the bank,and with savings was able to put large quantities aside of his wine in wood barrels for two years. His wines were being produced from six planted varieties on his vineyard of about twenty acres in 2010, but Malvasia and Teran made up 70% of his total production.

He also was one of the few in Istra to make Pinot Gris,and one of the first to begin ageing Teran in small Barrique Casks,and now large wooden ones as well,and keeps Cabernet Sauvignon in the Barrique.

His wine has been previously displayed (and tasted,)at the London Wine Fair. 

DUILIO AND DENIS ZIGANTE. P.O.VINA ZIGANTE,KOSTANJICA 66,52429,GROZNJAN,Istra.

Taking the main road from Buzet to Buje,following the flow of the River Mirna,and somewhere before the river turns its flow towards the sea you will notice a little place called Kostanjica(Castagna)which means"Chestnuts".

The soil,black and white,enjoys the warmth of the river while getting colder air from the north.

Duilio the Forth generation and his son Denis,the Fifth,to deal in wine.Denis is an Oenologist by Profession. Duilio took his wine to the first Vinistra wine exhibition in 1994,and his Malvisia won him a Gold Medal.

Duilio and Denis have a policy.That is,that only wines which meet the conditions for winning gold or silver are bottled.The rest are sold locally, sometimes at a loss too them,but without going into a bottle.

Cabernet Sauvignon Zigante got the highest score in its category in the 2009 Vinistra exhibition(an Annual event ,set in Porec ,during the month of May.) Duilio prefers producing Malvasia and Teran.

All red wines age in Big Wooden Barrels,for a year.In 2010,they produced their first coupage which combined Teran,Merlot,Cabernet Sauvignon and Borgonja together.

Duilio said,that their ancestors combined all grape varieties from their vineyard into a coupage, so we today, are only following a family tradition!

LIVIO,ALBERT and NIKOLA BENVENUTI ,BENVENUTI VINA,KALDIR 7,52424,MOTOVUN,Istra

Kaldir,the little kingdom,as known locally,in the foothills of Motovun,for it's high yielding of fruit and vegetables, live the Benvenuti family  

The Benvenutis' have engaged in wine production and growing of grapes for over 300 years on this very spot.

Livio was in the wine trade until around 2004,when he engaged seriously in the wine business.He and his sons started using the old methods of wine production,until they discovered the new technology,and won immediately a gold medal for their Malvasia at the Vinistra Expo,that established their own wine business.

In 2010 they produced around 50,000 bottles of Malvasia,and for two years in a row,2007 and 2008 won the main award for the best young Malvasia at the Vinistra Expo in Porec.

Teran produced in 2006 got bottled in 2010,for the market after first aging in large wood barrels and partially in Barrique casks.

Three grape varieties are grown.Teran,Muscat and Malvasia Istriana. 

Long ago,the old town of Kaldir stood atop of a hill,which was abandoned after many terrible plague epidemics that struck Istra during medieval times. This extraordinary site served to control access into the Istrian Hinterland.

The Muscat of the Benvenuti family bears the name of San Salvatore after the name of this hill.

At the International Wine Challenge (IWC)in 2011,the Muscat San Salvatore won a Gold Medal and International Trophy.But prior to this,at the Decanter 2010 awards, the San Salvatore 2007 Muscat won a Silver Medal, and the 2009 Malvasia Istriana,a Commended Wine Award. 

An ancestor lived in the Benvenuti house and discovered an old earthware wine jug dating back to Roman Times. This was later sold in Trieste,Italy.Today,that same wine jug is on display for the public to see,in the town museum. 

 PETER POLETTI,MARKOVAC 14,VISNJAN,52463,Istra 

Peter is a Hedonist.To his friends he's known as Piero.He wears a Cartier watch,is a food enthusiast, and from time to time travels to exotic locations. But first,his wine making chores take centre place.

He dreamed of owning a Chvrolet Camaro,so in 2007 he became the owner of a model from 1978,with a 5 litre 8-V engine,which he supercharged.

Piero speaks English,Slovenian,Italian and German,and was the first winemaker in Istra who organised wine tasting tours for tourists,after he had first renovated the basement of his house and turned it into a tasting room with a fireplace.

His earlist job as a tourist guide and activity organiser which he did up to his homeland war.But when hard years came at the begining of the 1990's he took advantage of his experience and sold his wine and the tale of it as a tourist product. That made him different from other winemakers whom had focased on wine production alone.

In 1993 his father died and he made his big decision to focus himself fully to wine production. His 1992 wine was rejected at Vinistra in Porec.But in 1994 his Malvasia was a good wine.

He learnt four basic pillars of good wine production:A small crop. Ripe and healthy grapes.Modern technology,and the wine maker himself.

He makes wines,he himself likes to drink,and therefore,he does not make oaky white wines.

He drinks a bottle a day,but claims he never gets drunk. He says that he has fullfilled his dreams,he has a nice family,a 19 year old son,and he has got twin younger girls.

His family tradition of wine production goes back six generations. His great grandfather Piero bought the land where the house and nearby vineyards are situated nowadays for 113 florins.After that his grandfather Marko bought most of the land the family own today.

He "sealed"his first wine bottles of Burgundy in 1976,when he was 13 years old,and some still exist. In 2010 he planned to make a great coupage based on Cabernet Sauvignon with  20 to 30 per cent  of Merlot and Refolk(Refosco.) He planted both Merlot and Refolk(Refosco)vines on the best terrain below his house.But he likes Malvasia best of all.

He also today rents a villa on his land during the tourist seasons of the year,to further aid income to his family earnings. .And as an extra, produces Extra Virgin Olive Oil.