The approach to Vinistra 2014 with flags flying.Vinistra 2014 ( 21st annual event)  at Poreč’s sports hall Žatika 9 to 11 May 2014.
Wine production equipment manufacturers display their products along the approach to the venue.

Mark Roberts and Karmen Pilato standing together at the entrance arch of Vinistra 2014Mark Roberts (Managing Director of Croatian Fine Wines Limited) with Karmen Pilato at the entrance of the annual Vinistra 2014, Poreč, Istria, Croatia.

Mark Roberts standing at the Franc Arman and Pilato stand at Vinistra 2014Mark Roberts enjoying his first sample of Istrian wine at Vinistra 2014 - Pilato Sauvignon Blanc 2014.

Oliver Arman and Mark Roberts at Vinistra 2014Oliver Arman of Franc Arman with Mark Roberts and their certificate of  Commendation from IWC 2014 for Franc Arman Teran Barrique 2009, which also won a Gold Medal at Vinistra 2014.

Pilato Sauvignon Blanc 2013 wins Gold at Vinistra 2014 and is displayed in event wall of honourPilato Sauvignon Blanc 2013 wins Gold at Vinistra 2014 and is shown in the event display cabinet.

Mark Roberts on the Kabola stand with Martina Markežić, holding the superb Kabola Rosa Rose 2013, and Thilo Gerheim at Vinistra 2014.Mark Roberts on the Kabola stand with Martina Markežić, holding the superb Kabola Rosa Rose 2013, and Thilo Gerheim at Vinistra 2014.

"The famous Zigante Tartufi brand and its associated fine dining restaurant in Livade at the foot of Motovun, launch their own Zigante wines at Vinistra 2014. 

Giancarlo Zigante's philosophy for his wines is to make them light wines of the vineyard, so that it is easy to share and enjoy more than one bottle. When you taste their wines you can see where he is coming from – very easy to drink quality wines. "Another bottle of Giancarlo Zigante Malvazija please!"

Left to right: Mark Roberts, Giancarlo Zigante (Managing Director), James Waddell and Mišel Černeka (Export Manager Zigante Tartufi). Really lovely, light, fruity wines for easy drinking pleasure. They aspire to be amongst the top 5 wine producers in Istria. Given the quality of their other products this is a real possibility in time.

Vinistra a world class wine festival

For the past 21 years, within the first two weeks of May, the Vinistra wine festival takes place in the historic coastal town of Poreč, of the Istrian peninsular. Vinistra is a focal point on the Istrian wine producer and consumer calendar and a must attend event. It presents an opportunity for local wine producers to enter their best vintages into the VInistra wine competition and for trade customers and wine loving consumers to meet up directly with the wine makers and taste their creations.

The results for Vinistra 2014 were published, as always, in advance of the event which was held at Poreč’s huge Basketball Sports Centre Žatika over the weekend of 9 to 11 May 2014. The venue is perfect, with a vast open space sports hall with exhibition stands from all the famous Istrian wine producers and many others that aspire to join them.

Vinistra an exhibition of wine, pršut, cheese and chocolate

Walking in the corridors to the main exhibition hall are stands with displays of chocolate, pršut (air cured ham) and local cheeses. There is a strong temptation to linger and sample, but the loud chatter from the wine hall at the end of the corridor and the prospect of tasting so many wonderful wines beckoning, is too strong to resist. We must go on…

Vinistra for Istrian wine lovers

Vinistra 2014 is presented in a light airy arena with generous walkways between the stands. Immediately you recognise the brands of every Istrian wine you have ever tasted or wanted to and they are all within a few paces to the left, right, ahead or a little further – for an Istrian wine lover, there is a moment of ‘small child in a sweet shop’, which wine do I taste first?

Fortunately, the decision is made for me and Mark Roberts, Managing Director of Croatian Fine Wines Limited, as we are being escorted with complimentary entrance passes by Eliđo Pialto’s daughter Karmen, who speaks perfect English.

Tasting the quality of Croatian wines

Every year Franc Arman and Pilato share a large stand with a long bar top area for tasting wine. Selecting our first wine to taste is easy as I request that Mark samples Pilato Sauvignon 2013, which I had tasted a few days earlier at the Pilato winery. This Sauvignon Blanc vintage won a gold medal at Vinistra 2014 and when you taste it, there is no doubt as to why. A really beautiful Sancerre style Sauvignon Blanc with the familiar gooseberry fruit notes, balanced acidity and the classic Pilato lingering finish, that I call the ‘Pilato kiss’. You will know what I mean when you experience it!

We then spent another three hours happily tasting other wines from Pilato, Franc Arman, Kabola, Pino Rossi, (Giancarlo) Zigante, Polleti, Vina Laguna, Kozlović and many others. At all the stands there was no pressure to buy, just taste enjoy, have a nibble on some cheese or pršut. A typical Croatian style event, where socialising and deepening the relationship with trade customers and consumers alike is what it was all about.

Vinistra should be a major tourist attraction

My major reflection on the event was why on earth isn’t this fantastic event Vinistra marketed more widely and internationally to tourists? In many ways it is like Istrian wine, almost all of it is consumed locally or within Croatia. Definitely wine lovers from the UK would enjoy the fabulous opportunity to taste new indigenous grapes and experience the quality of Istrian wines and from other parts of Croatia in such a cordial atmosphere.

Will I see you at Vinistra 2015?

The 2013 Istrian Wine List

WHITE WINE

Franc Arman Malvazija Istarska 2013: - the very hot and dry summer of 2013 has created a more floral wine, with a touch more acidity and a marginally lighter mouth feel, but with all the fruit characteristics of a delightful Istrian Malvazija.

Pilato Malvazija Istarska 2013 (Silver Medal at Vinistra 2014) again Eliđo Pilato has created his signature style Malvazija, similar to the 2012 vintage, which won an International Wine Challenge 2014 Silver Medal and Decanter World Wine Awards 2014 Bronze, as always rounded with its refreshing fruit, a tad more acidity and long finish.

Pilato Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Gold Medal at Vinistra 2014) this is a fantastic example of the artisan wine making skills of Eliđo Pilato, moving the taste profile way over to the more familiar styles of Sauvignon Blanc from France’s Lorie Valley Sancerre and New Zealand’s Marlborough region, the gooseberry fruit, balanced acidity and long lingering finish (Pilato kiss) is wonderful. Exceptional value, but only limited supplies.

Kabola Malvazija Istarska 2013 EU Organic certified (Silver Medal Vinistra 2014) floral, always pleasing fruit and finish, this Malvazija is a worthy medallist and will be enjoyed with much pleasure like previous vintages.

ROSÉ WINE

Kabola Rosa 2013 EU Organic certified is slightly dryer in this vintage as the ratio of Teran to Muškat Momjanski has changed from 90:10 to 95:05. The floral nose, rose style fruit and lingering finish remain in the wine, but moving to an off-dry makes it easier to food match as well as enjoy on its own, as the taste becomes more reminiscent of a Loire rosé – perfect for the summer and beyond.

RED WINES

We have topped up our Croatian red wine, but not switched vintages as the later wines were not bottled. You can see our Croatian red wines list here.