VINISTRA 2017: Best Young Malvazija by Nino Privitelio Creates Controversy

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This year’s Vinistra wine rating, the most significant Croatian wine exhibition, rated in the Malvazija World category the one submitted by the Fakin Winery from Motovun won with 89.25 points. The second place was taken by last year’s wine by Marjan Arman with 87 points. Fourteenth place went to the Malvazija from the family farm of Nino Privitelio from Vrsar with 86.25 points, with all of the above having enough points for gold medals. Notice the 3 point difference between the first and fourteenth place.

However, the Vinistra webpages where this data comes from, also states that Privitelio’s Malvazija was declared the best young Malvazija for this year. Now, how is it possible that a wine which was rated with three points less triumphs over a wine with three points more? And how is it possible that a wine which took 14th place in its category to be declared Vinistra champion in that same category? The explanation is in the sentence written in italics, underneath the names of champions by category. It states: “These wines were selected by all judges, among the best rated wines in their categories.”

The sentence actually means that judges who rated Teran or Muscat, also voted in the last phase of the rating for Malvazijas which won a gold medal so they, with a majority of votes, decided that the Malvazija chosen by judges of the Malvazija category as best, is not best, but rather the one which took three points less in that category.

Vinistra is certainly the leading Croatian wine manifestation. The role of Vinistra in promotion of Malvazija and other Istrian wines is immeasurable. Vinistra is also an important tourism attraction, to be held this year from 12 to 14 May. The significance of Vinistra was recognised also by the largest Istrian winery, Laguna from Poreč, a regular participant and one of the sponsors. However, the wine rating at Vinistra is more than dubious, which we noticed six years ago when we took part in the rating. Firstly, rating conditions were not especially good: poor glasses and rather little time to rate very, very many samples, making those conditions almost irregular. Secondly, the decision making process on final winners is almost ridiculous, and almost certainly incorrect. In the finals of the competition for overall winner in the category of ripe Malvazijas were two wines of well-known domestic producers. The winner was decided on by judges from all panels, including those who never tasted the finalists. A bottle of one of the finalists was obviously technically flawed, so some of the judges asked for the bottle to be replaced, so the winner may be decided on the basis of appropriate bottles. The second group of judges simply physically outshouted those who demanded the bottle to be replaced, so the winning wine actually had no competition. It is of course quite unclear how a technically flawed bottle can even take part in the competition, especially the finals.

Besides procedural problems, Vinistra’s ratings are doubtful also because of the huge number of gold medals, since gold is awarded to all wines which receive 85 or more points. We consider that threshold to be too low. This year a total of 53 Malvazijas won gold, which is quite absurd. It is also a fact that a line of large global international competitions suffer from an inflation of gold medals, but 53 gold for a small number of producers of Malvazija devalues the very idea of a gold medal.

It should be added that Vinistra is missing Clai, Coronica and Matošević, which compromises the influence of the manifestation, turning itself each year into a platform for the promotion of less known producers. In the case of Fakin Winery, the real champion in points in the young Malvazijas category, such a role is more than welcome. It really is an excellent wine, one of the best fresh Malvazijas we have tasted in the past several years.

Vinistra 2017 winners by category:
Best Young Malvazija: Istrian Malvazija 2016, OPG Privitelio Nino, Vrsar
Best Ripe Malvazija: Festigia 2013, Vina Istria, Laguna, Poreč
Best Young Teran: Fuga 2016, Vina Dobravac, Rovinj
Best Ripe Teran: Teran 2012, Vina Dešković, Grožnjan
Best Refošk: Refošk 2008, Vina Bordon, Dekani, Slovenia

For the original and more from Plava Kamenica, click here.


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