Trapan in Istria, July 2011

In May I was tasting my way through Istria’s local wine event, VinIstra, with some other wine professionals when I ran into a friend who took my arm and told me there was somebody I had to meet. He introduced me to Bruno Trapan, a young winemaker from Pula who has been working steadily since his winery’s inception in 2003 on producing terroir expressive wines from this area in southern Istria. He led me through a tasting of both his own wines and those of his friend Ernest Tolj of Saints Hills Winery. Notes follow on the Trapan wines.

Barrel samples with Bruno Trapan at his winery.

Later, in June, I was back in Istria and made the trek to visit the winery with a few others. He’s got a newly built winery with a very fun, modern tasting room, which cleverly includes a kitchen so he can host lively wine dinners. We visited his vineyards, 11 hectares of beautiful, healthy vines planted in Teran, Malvasia, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. Many went into the ground this year and will hopefully be mature enough for use in 2013. He’s implementing organic viticulture, and employing microorganic organisms borrowed from the principles of biodynamics. He’s definitely onto something. His wines, as he claims, have been improving from vintage to vintage. Which means the future’s looking really bright for this determined, energetic winemaker.

Stainless steel tanks in Trapan’s new winery.

Tasting Notes:

Trapan Ponente 2010– 100% Malvasia. Soft with aromas of green apple and minerality. The acidity is more broad than focused, a great cocktail wine and food wine both. I’m always drinking this wine at my favorite sushi joint in Zagreb and it’s a grand slam with both the sashimi and some of their more eclectic fusion dishes. A great bottle for everyday drinking, just chill it and kill it.

Trapan “Uroboros” Cuvee 2009– 50% Malvasia, 50% Chardonnay. This blend is mostly aged in Acacia wood, sur lie 10 months. 13.6% alc. Flavors are green and spicy both, an interesting combination. The vineyards are near to the sea, and I picked up some salty minerality on this wine that was reminiscent of a good Albariño from Spain. Creamy, savory, rich, round and really interesting in general. This was one of my favorite wines overall at the VinIstra tasting. Estimated aging potential 5-10 years. Would be perfect with seafood or poultry, but I bet this baby could definitely hold its own against more assertively-flavored dishes as well, like a spicy curry. Props.

Trapan Rubi Rosé 2010– The kitchen sink blend comprised of Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Teran. Aged sur lie 7 months. It’s got this neon-salmon color, and if it was served in a martini glass I’d for sure think it was a Cosmo.  It leads off with primary aromas of strawberry and brioche. The palate is clean and fresh, but congruent with his style, it doesn’t sting with acidity. Flavors echo the nose, with watermelon and even cantaloupe coming through. Despite the shocking color, it’s more subtle on the palate, and that’s exactly what I want on a bottle of wine like this. Great summer/spring sipper or would be a good compliment to salads, egg-based dishes or light summer fare. Easily the kind of wine you can open a few bottles of on the terrace and forget to go back to work.

Trapan “Nigra Virgo” Cabernet Sauvignon 2009– This wine shows exactly what can be done with Cabernet Sauvignon in the right hands. Classic, textbook even, oak kissed but not overdone. That’s due to the balance between stainless steel and oak (50/50%) during the aging process, and the restraint practiced in the winery. Gorgeous blackberry, cassis, cigar box and anise show up on the palate. Tannins are incredibly well-integrated on this seamless wine. Perfect for fans of this new world and old world alike, it’s the wine that says “let’s all be friends.” Cab lovers rejoice, this is a winner. Aging potential…10 years? Good luck resisting the urge to yank the cork for that long.

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