Wine Cellar’s ID
Heard that one about tradition, when the Englishman explains to the curious the secret of his well cultivated English lawn? No secret to it really, says the Englishman; after you’ve chosen good seed, sown it at the right time and in the right place; when the grass sprouts, all that’s left for you is to water it well and still more importantly to cut it often. To looks full of wonder and disbelief, the Englishman adds devastatingly: And so on for four hundred years. Bruno Trapan is a young Croatian winemaker (born in 1979) who seems never to have heard of this story. His wine tradition – if we skip 2002, when with a diverse and jolly band he helped for the first time to pick the grapes from his grandfather’s vineyard – started in 2004 when, as a student at the specialist course in viniculture in Poreč, he made his first own wine, or in 2005 when close to Šišan he planted his first hectare of vineyard, and in Vodnjan, at a local wine fair, when he won the silver medal for a Cabernet Sauvignon that he had made with bought-in grapes.
Vineyards and varieties
That he has no weight of tradition on him but has the typically youthful urge to experiment Trapan has proved with the planting of the Syrah variety, a cultivar that in the past was not at all common in the Istrian peninsula. Today, as well as Syrah, on 4 hectares of his own vineyard (the Cuf area, by Šišan, southern Istria), Trapan has planted Malvazija, which takes up almost half of his land, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. The vineyards are located on the red soil, are insolated the whole day long, are very well aired, open to all the winds, while the minerals of the soil and the position close to the sea enables not only the Malvazija but also the non-indigenous varieties of Chardonnay, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon to take on a little bit of the terroir of this part of Istria and accordingly a recognisable brand.
Cellar, technology, wines
I don’t know (or didn’t know, perhaps better) of a better example of a garagiste (a term which the big winemakers in Bordeaux use to refer to the small vintners, those who don’t have their own land or cellars, but, in extremely modest premises, like garages, produce small quantities of wine (Vins de garage) than Bruno Trapan. It’s already a part of history, that wooden-doored garage at the top of the Lungomare in Pula in which Trapan bottled his 2008 Uroboros, which this year the wine Web portal of the most influential wine reviewer in the world, Robert Parker, gave 90 points, in words, an excellent wine. Since this year’s Martinmas, Trapan has moved from his garage into a large, new, modern cellar close to Šišan, on over 600 square meters, for wine processing with a designer-finished tasting room. The much larger and better-conditioned space enables him a simpler and easier processing of the grapes, more efficacious work in vinification and production, optimal storage of the basic Malvazija (Ponente) and Chardonnay (Levante) as well as the ageing of the coupage wines like Uroboros (Malvazija and Chardonnay) or Nigro Virgo (Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc).
An integral part of the modern and functional building of the Trapans in Šišan is composed by the family dwelling, as well as by the cellar. This interfusion of business and family is not just symbolic. Trapan is literally 24/7 on the job. His omnipresence – at presentations, exhibitions, tastings and promotions is outstandingly supported and accompanied by his youthful spouse Andrea. Press clippings, blogs, Web portal, social networking (the Facebook group Trapan wines along has over 2,000 members) and the organisation of various parties is just a little bit of the marketing arsenal that this attractive and enterprising woman skilfully handles; otherwise, she is a teacher of Italian. So it is not at all surprising to meet this young couple on the islet of Levan, promoting their Robi Rosé Syrah among the bathers, see them at the upmarket London Wine Festival, at the prestigious Wine Festival and Culinaria in Merano or read on the social network how they fared at the royal wine judging held in the White Palace in Belgrade, patronised by the heir to the throne, Prince Aleksandar Karađorđević III.
When he talks of his philosophy of wine, Trapan most often uses the word hedonism. To create wines that breathe hedonism and that – as such, hedonistically, will be recognised in the world. Going on investing in knowledge and quality will result in the production of top and distinctive wines, wines for the greatest pleasures. I want people like me to know these pleasures in London, Paris and New York... Big talk? Perhaps to those who don’t set their sights high, but not for Trapan, who as early as 2005 was flicking over the ampelography atlas and wondering whether Syrah would suit the Istrian red soil and today – thanks to the wine that he produced from the same Syrah, Shuluq 2007, is the winner of the Commended by Decanter award, given him by a leading world vine magazine.
Although he is but at the beginning of his career, Trapan is confident and amazingly precise when the conversation leads in the direction of the future of his family business. An area no bigger than 12 hectares, and production of about 80,000 bottles. The emphasis will still be on the family story and on the personal and constant control of all phases of production, on the land and in the cellar. He would keep a production of about 10 to 15,000 bottles of fresh Malvazija, but in the long term will nevertheless head for aged wines and black varieties. Dreams and smiles: 1,000 olive trees, and produce port wine. Models, still greater smiles: Brombonero of Clai and Gran Teran of Coronica.