23-04-2012

Apetit, Blue, Brava, & Piquentum

After Mr. Bibich’s Friday night pouring, there was another winemaker tasting event at Apetit, on Saturday. I almost didn’t go as I was, well, rather “soft” after Friday night and had missed a number of the talks on Saturday which I had meant to attend such as the Twitter tasting. Thankfully, due to the restorative powers of Jana spring water and Croatian coffee (to be honest, probably mostly the coffee) I managed to make it to this Saturday night tasting. Afterwards, I was very thankful I had.

The tasting was from Piquentum’s line of wines and was hosted by Brava Wine along with some additional bottles tossed out by Blue Danube Wine. For those who haven’t yet heard of it, Piquentum, it’s the winery of Dimitri Brečević (the fellow at the right), a French-Croatian winemaker with a wealth of experience in the French wine industry that he’s now applying to Istria while still staying true to the qualities of Istrian grapes that make them so unique. All the while, he’s producing natural wines. You can read a great interview with Dimitri by Goran Zgrablić here or April Torzewski’s account of visiting (and loving) the winery last year. We’ll definitely have to check out this re-purposed Italian water cistern wine cellar soon.

Obviously, if I’m bothering to push pixels about these wines, you’d be right to assume that they’re excellent. Malvazija (or Istarska Malvazija to distinguish it from Malvasia in Konavle) is more often than not a wine I respect than favor for my palate. This is the case with Dimitri’s Blanc 2010 in that I find it to be a most fantastically crafted wine. It has a tiny bit of minerality to the nose with a highly structured body. It’s clean in the finish and pulls out everything from the palate. For those who like Californian Chardonnays, but want it to have more character, be more food friendly and just generally more awesome, this is the wine for you. As it decants, I find that there is a slight honey and lavender aspect that comes out of it as well.

The Terre is the red, which if memory serves (as, for some reason, the notes don’t…) is a blend of Terran and Refošk. It’s earthy and deliberate in how it is wet on the palate and harking for food pairings of pasta, boar, steak, and just about anything else delicious from Istria–perhaps even truffle? One of the aspects that I appreciated more than anything was that this bottle, while plenty earthy and deep doesn’t drift in to the “rusty” character that I find Terran can sometimes flirt with.

I have to admit that I actually didn’t go through the tastings in exactly the same order as everyone else though as right after the white was poured, I popped off to Bistro Mitnica (known locally as “kod srbina”) in Črnomerec was a heaping pile of delicious meats. Once I returned, everyone was working their way through some of the other bottles that Frank of Blue Danube brought. The one that was the most amusing was a bottle of Ridge Zinfandel 1999 from California that clocked in at an “official” 16.7% alcohol. For some, it was just too much and they were pouring off their glass to happily return to Dimitri’s Terre.

Having grown up on these types of wines, I’ll always have a special spot on my palate for them, but I completely admit that they’re terrible for food pairings and if you’re not ready for them, they can be far, far too strong. Also, you simple can’t mix Old and New World wines in one sitting. It would be like having wild boar and farm-raised steak in the same meal. They’re both the same basic thing in the end, but they’re worlds apart from one another.

Otherwise, it was a splendid (and for some, a much more sane) evening spend with a great cast of wine folks from the festival. Some of this gang you’ll be hearing more about on this site, so stay tuned and top off your glass if you haven’t already.