The President pointed out he was aware it was not easy to make such a great wine, and that he hoped next year there would be wines that are even more brilliant. Unless people like us drink them first, I made this unpretentious remark and laid back in the VIP lounge. In fact, since my experienced team is totally in love with everything Istria has to offer, on Friday night, after a copious meal, we began our wine tasting task as special guests from the cluster of Northwest Istria.
The side events of this seven-day sports and gastronomic manifestation were held under the title “The Hidden Charms of Istrian Wines“, during which, every evening, the audience tasted wines at blind tastings. In particular, young and mature Malvasia wines, Muscat and Teran wines from the cellars of Istrian winemakers. Although we couldn’t spare the whole week and taste all 18 wines of different winemakers in competition, we did enjoy aged Merlot wines presented by their creators in a pleasant and cheerful atmosphere. Since the audience was the jury, they had to choose – the most lovable wine of the evening, because, other than the winemakers, there were no professionals present. What can I say, except that we didn’t know which one to single out, so we kept on discussing the quality of Malvasia, the influence of rain, the role of Rijeka in Europe and the like, well into the night.
A heavy rain interfered with the schedule of the matches, so we gave in to culinary delights of the three popular restaurants that, especially for this occasion, joined forces and made a joint presentation. We tasted combinations of specialties, from a cold seafood salad well seasoned by Ipša’s great olive oil, polenta with ricotta cheese and prosciutto, tortellini stuffed with sea bass, sea bass with potatoes and chard, baby beef, veal, and everything so delicious…
Somehow, Tortellini with a capital T stuck out as the play of the day, anatomically made to melt on your palate and then release a new flavour of fish, so unfamiliar to us savages who mostly put fish in a soup or on a grill. Well done to taverns Nono, Buščina and Pergola, we must visit separaetly all three of them very soon!
The last wine tasting session involved Muscat wines, so we relished their sweetness, celebrated with winemakers Geržinić and Trapan, and finally saw a tennis match. After ten minutes of baking under the sun, a ball from a deadly smash by a certain Robredo hit me in the forehead and threw my glasses under the stands. A good enough reason to make half the audience laugh, as well as go get something to eat and drink some wine.
Istria is beautiful. You don’t have to know the tennis rules to enjoy it to the fullest. We kissed our hosts goodbye and headed for the bewitched place, the brewery and pub of San Servolo. Fifth time lucky, I guess now we’ll make it.