One of the highlights of any culinary adventure is finding a special place, that is unlike any other in the local region. Trapan Wine is one such place, in the heart of Istria, one of the most culturally diverse and historic wine cultures in central Europe.
Driving in to the winery, the sun was setting and the views were stunning. The gentle rolling slopes of the hills, some under vine, most not, glistening in the late winter sunlight.
Bruno Trapan, a young urban winemaker drawn to the region as he studied enology at the local university in Poreč, was inspired by the land and his education to a creative and dynamic art in his vineyard and cellar, undertaking a task that was challenging at best, arduous at least. Bucking the trend, he was looking to unlock the secret to the red soils of Istria, and uncover new secrets in winemaking.
While Trapan Wine does produce the classic wines of Istria – Malvasia and Teran – they are also looking to internationally known varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah to create new traditions in winemaking. These varietals fit nicely in to the landscape naturally, but are new flavors in the local wine culture and are breaking new bounds of tradition.
These wines are unique, filled with traditoinally flavors with modern twists and are a must top on your enotourism checklist of Croatia.
2012 Trapan Malvasia – Rich Meyer lemon, citrus, stone fruit. Fermented in stainless steel tanks, the flavor profile is unique, with a very different terrori than northern Istria. The northern areas are rich in limestone, lending a minerality and stone finish, while in Pula, where Trapan Wine is located, the average temperature is 3 degrees (Celsius) warmer. This brings forward the aromatics in the Malvazia, with less fruit forward, and bright acid notes.
Ever the rebel, Trapan Wine uses both wild, natural yeast, as well as commercial yeast. Each lot is fermented separately, but the final bottling is a blend, and not all wines in a lot are bottled at once. Some wine is kept on yeast longer which gives a more complex creamy wine.
2010 Trapan Teran – Teran (Terrano in Italy) is one of those grapes that had been used for rough and ready, work-a-day wine. At first taste, Teran reminded me of Touriga Nacional, a rough, but loveable worker. However, refined and elegant, this Teran changes the status quo. This bold and dense wine is similar to a Merlot, but rough and tumble, with lots of spice, and huge tannins that allow it to be aged for years to come. Earthy dust, muddy dirt, big brambly berries, this is the Teran I fell in love with.
2011 Trapan Nigra Virgo Revolution is a red blend, with 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 20% Syrah, and 10% Teran. This is like a Bordeaux on steroids! Teran is a strong grape, and so you have to be cautious when creating blends that it doesn’t overpower the blend. Teran, being native to Istria for thousands of years, is a great way to put a local spin on an international style wine like the Nigra Virgo. This wine had big bold flavors of black cherry, fig, and bark with a baking spice kit dusted on top. Hints of pine pitch came out in the long finish.
Finally, we had a secret taste of not even disgorged yet (ok well Bruno disgorged it in the kitchen of the winery), sparking Teran. I am always curious about sparkling red wine, from Shiraz to Lambrusco, and this was gorgeous. Blood orange, wild strawberries, cherries, pomegranate, and ripe red fruit were popping through this bubbling beauty. I can’t wait to go back and buy some!