Benvenuti: Five Wines for a Barbecue, Even a Sweet One

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What would I have it with, is the first thing on my mind when I taste a wine, and during the presentation of five new wines of the Benvenuti winery near Motovun, I couldn’t shake the idea of barbecue. Maybe it was the first wine on offer. The 2017 Rose is no light wine made for sipping in hot days and warm evenings, but a firm and full Teran whose taste is dominated by dryness.

It is hard to describe this impression and there are few wines which offer it, with the only common denominator being that they’re exceptional. The Benvenuti Rose 2017 also has a lovely fruitiness, which rounds off and somewhat softens the sharp dryness, with my first sip creating an image of a steak from a large amberjack of five kilograms or more and up to 30. The steak in my head was grilled so that the meat did not turn completely white but remained a light reddish color, softer than the color of the wine. Amberjack’s meat is almost like tuna’s, but lighter, less intense in taste, but fattier. An amberjack steak’s shape reminds of a T-bone steak, but the middle bone looks more like a small X than a large T.

A true T-bone steak, beef meat from the back with a portion of the spine and fillet, would have good company from the Caldierosso. The name means “red from Kaldir,” and the Benvenuti family makes this wine from equal shares of Terna, Merlot, Malbec and Tempranillo. They chose the varieties for this wine on purpose, planted them in 2010 at around 300 meters above sea level and last year presented the first harvest from 2015. The market will now see the 2016 edition. Each variety was vinified on its own as the grapes ripen at different times. The wine reminds of Crianza, a mark of ripeness on wine labels from the Spanish Rioja region, meaning it was aged for two years.

Crianzas in Rioja are juicier, softer and more drinkable wines than Riservas, which need to be three years old, and in the Benvenuti winery its role would be played by the pure Teran. It was not presented in Vinodol as we already known the 2015 well, and 2016 is not ready yet, but this is a wine for the best red meats, and if Caldierosso is for drinking, ripe Terans by the Benvenutis are to be enjoyed in only special occasions.

Between the Rose and Cladierosso came two Malvazijas, and they also could not get the barbecue off my mind. The first was the Malvazija 2017, a classic wine by this family, which is each year among the best in Istria. It is refreshing, as is fitting for its youth, but it has fullness, simply asking for zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and asparagus from the grill with a bit of fresh cheese, curd or mozzarella placed on them just before taking them off the fire. The young Malvazija was followed by the ripe one, whose name is Anno Domini 2016. It was macerated for two weeks, spent two years in oak barrels and is an excellent date for shells such as escallops or fine grilled white fish.

The confusion in this story came from the colors of the wines served at the presentation, so let’s clear up the desired sequence: begin with the Malvazija 2017 and vegetables, continue with Anno Domini Malvazija 2016 with shells or white fish. As the wines get darker, so do the wines: next is Rose 2017 and the amberjack, followed by Caldierosso with beef. The fifth presented wine was the sweet Muškat San Salvatore 2013. From the grill, it would go well with dry figs rolled into a thin bacon slab which was sprinkled with a ripe hard cheese while still hot.

This daydreaming of a barbecue does not in the least diminish the excellent choice of dishes prepared in Vinodol by Zdravko Tomšić. He served beef tartar with the Rose, Adriatic ceviche with the young Malvazija – freshly marinated fish with asparagus, a mushroom and smoked duck breast risotto with the Anno Domini, and lamb shank in a thyme sauce with the Caldierosso. We loved it.

Translated from, click here for the original.


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