But behind the fascinating story we are about to tell, there is hard work which required the cooperation of different disciplines. Here is what went into making four different types of Istrian Malvasia on four different kinds of soil!
From soil to wine
From the beginning to end, everything happened under the sign of the number four! The project “4 Soils – 4 Wines” was launched in 2010, with an estimated duration of four years and a goal of fostering the appreciation of the Istrian Malvasia produced in this area. First we had to define the climatic and agricultural features of the area, and isolate the autochthonous yeasts taken from the four different types of soil – red, black, grey and white. Each of the four vineyards where the research was conducted had practically identical microclimatic conditions. And each had the Istrian Malvasia planted on a different type of soil.
From the initial microvinification of the Malvasia in small barrels, the switch to large barrels was made already in 2012, and the wine was ready to be commercialized. Within a few months, the best yeasts were chosen through regular sampling. Considering the specificity and uniqueness of the project, the careful implementation of each step in a chronological order and the expert leadership involved, it is no surprise to see how much success this project has achieved! In addition, Brtonigla now can also boast repeating the same procedure for a different autochthonous Istrian wine variety – the Teran!
Different wines, different dishes
In the end, it is remarkable how different the four varieties of Malvasia turned out to be after going through the same process of vinification and in the same conditions, which included coming from the same micro location, being harvested on the same day, and going through fermentation in the same temperature. The tangible end results produced through a single process led to wines with completely different features, due solely to the different types of soils they had come from! What type of wine to pick with what kind of dish? Well, here some caution should be exercised! Namely, the Malvasia changes from year to year, making it impossible to establish universal rules of wine and dish combinations.
The choice is usually left up to the host and the sommelier of the restaurant, who will know better than anyone else how to prepare the menu and the wine chart with the wines from the four soils every year. One of the places to find an excellent menu and suggestions for suitable wines based on this project is the gourmet restaurant of the famous San Rocco Hotel in Brtonigla. In 2014, for instance, three best autochthonous soils were chosen: one with black soil and two more with grey. Those varieties of Malvasia were dominated by the flower and fruit aromas, from accacia and elder to apricot, peach and yellow apples with traces of dried fruit.
A beautiful never-ending story
After receiving the end results, there was still the matter of developing the strategy on how to present the project and the results to the public. Luckily, it turned out that a story this good was not difficult to promote. The wines were given labels, the project was presented in a detailed brochure and presented in the Istrian Malvasia Festival, an event held in Brtonigla on an annual basis. The wines also found their way to other important events in the area, like the unique Choco and Wine Fest, etc.
But the story does not end here, in a one-time presentation of Brtonigla’s uniqueness; instead it continues with the aforementioned Teran which is to be harvested this year, and also with the production of olive oil. The project has also involved the making of a four-soil bread. It is not connected with the terroir, but what does make it unique is that it is made from ingredients coming exclusively from the area of the Brtonigla municipality: the oil from integrated processing and milk and flour produced according to autochthonous recipes of our ancestors.
Where can you taste the fruits of the labor?
When visiting Brtonigla, you will have no trouble finding and recognizing a selection of the special wines made from the four soils. You can taste and, of course, buy them directly from the local producers. The special four-soil bread can be found at the bakery in the center of Brtonigla. All additional information can be acquired at the local tourist office, through printed and web materials of Colors of Istria, and from the local wine makers involved in the project themselves.