An astounding success that breaks the rules for great wines, made by an innovative winemaker proud of his origins
Never a greater success by a Croatian wine at Decanter. Veralda Istrian, a Terrano of publicly less known, but familiar to experts, Luciano Visintin has been declared the best monosort red wine at the largest world wine competition in London, Slobodna Dalmacija writes on June 20, 2016.
And this among 16,000 wines entered in the competition! The best in the prestigious category of expensive wines, ones above 15 pounds. The famous Steven Spurrier, president of the judging panel of Decanter, one of the greatest authorities in the world of wine, gave it a huge 95 points, as well as a platinum medal and Best In Show title.
It should be mentioned this wine did not fare well at a domestic competition.
“With wine there are no gods! Winners known in advance,” says jubilant Luciano. “This award and this wine does away with all the great wine rules we’ve known so far and considered unquestionable. Experts have always considered that a great wine must come from older vineyards, while my winning Istrian Terrano comes from a 4-5 year old one. Then, hand harvesting is preferred, while our vineyard uses only machine harvesting. Furthermore, it is thought that all great wines must age, while this Terrano is actually a young wine from 2015, only 4-5 months old.
Naturally everyone wonders what the secret is, how did he manage to create such an astounding young wine.
“I always say: only by thinking differently can we get ahead in the world of wine; if we copy, we’re at the end. If we go the innovative way, think about how to improve our sort, as no one is perfect, miracles can be made. What have I done? We used all the advantages of the Terano sort, but also cancelled its flaws, removed the acidity flaw while intensifying its virtues, colour, tannins, smell, taste… We perfected it in the vineyard. We took off leaves, making the skin thicker and able to stay in the vineyard longer, reducing acids too. We picked the grapes in October, at the end of the harvest, a bit later than usual. We wanted to make the Terrano into a wine with Pinot Noir characteristics, a wine where you need not know anything and enjoy it.”
Terrano Istrian comes from Visintin’s winery and the Veralda estate. It is the name of the winery and position of vineyards in Kršina, not far from Buje and Brtonigla, as there are many Visintin’s acros Istria and Veralda is great for recognition. Another important detail: the bottle states Veralda Istrian, but the front label does not state it is a Terrano.
“I believe it is time to stop promoting sorts and fighting over Terrano. I wanted everyone to know this is firstly an Istrian wine and then a Terrano. A world-leading wine bearing the name of the region is an excellent promotion for Istria and all its winemakers, Croats, Italians, Slovenians, for excellent people living here. There were 18,000 bottles of Veralda Istrian, a lot less now, but can be found in Split as well. The price? Together with VAT around 25 Euro.”
He sent the wine to Decanter as he needed to – because of Canada.
“We were trying to export some of the wine to Canada and they asked us if we have any world awards for the wine. We hadn’t competed until then and they recommended to try Decanter. So we sent four wines. The Terrano was best in show, while our Malvasia Veralda, rose and champagne, each got a bronze medal. All four wines were awarded.
Who is Luciano Visintin? A construction engineer by trade, passionate winemaker by calling. An innovative winemaker, not for the first time. Seven years ago his Malvasia was the best dry Malvasia at a competition. Istrian Malvasia covers 60 percent of his 30 acres of vineyards, the rest being Terrano.
“In 2009 we made a first Terrano rose in Veralda. No one made rose out of Terrano before, now everyone does it. Veralda also has olive groves alongside vineyards, as many great winemakers in the world are also olive oil producers. We were also innovators there too, harvesting olives early.”
Luciano’s family also has four and a half acres of olive groves with around 1,800 olive trees. Annually they produce around 4,000 litres of top notch extra virgin olive oil. They’ve been selling it in Provence for years, in prestigious L’Occitane’s olive oil stores Olivier&Co. Veralda produces around 250,000 bottles of wine each year. The price of the pearls of Veralda?
“They are not too expensive, we don’t want our wines to be out of reach. We want the wines to be sold, drunk, not kept in shelves. The wine matters, not the winemaker, wine has to give us pleasure and that is the goal, not bowing to those who make it.”