Wine cellar’s ID
My family has no winemaking tradition, but Stancija Meneghetti does. In 1865 the Meneghetti of the time planted wines and olives to supply the great fortifications of the Austrian army hard at hand. In 1912, a new proprietor went on with the tradition of wine, and when we came we found old barrels and old-fashioned equipment for grape-processing. It’s hard to invoke a tradition of which there are no real traces, but it is clear that there is a continuity, as there is after all in the whole of Istria. When we bought the estate in 2000, we planted olives, because my first idea was to have some product that could be presented as a product of the Istrian terroir.
Vineyards and assortment
After a few unsuccessful olive seasons (the winters killed 50% of the saplings), my friend Aleš Kristančič Movia persuaded us to plant the vine. At the beginning, we managed by ourselves, foreman Damir Bosek and I, according to Movia’s instructions, and we created a grape assortment according to my ideas. From the very beginning I thought that the world was still not completely saturated with international varieties if there was a wine that was really good enough. I convinced myself that international varieties would have a different idiom than they have in Bordeaux for example. That the Istrian terroir would give a special stamp to these international varieties and that we would, I hope it doesn’t sound pretentious, succeed in showing that it is not only Bordeaux that is preordained to have first rate wines on the basis of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, or Napa Valley or Bolgheri. Although in the case of olive oil (for which we have won world prizes) we keep to monocultivars and don’t mix it, in the case of wine, we plumped for just that.
At the beginning this was based on Chardonnay with a slight addition of Pinot Gris and after a bit Blanc, and a Bordeaux cuvée based on Merlot with an addition of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, to give it an added international finish, and make it still better than any single variety can. We have the first vintage in 2003.
On the 7 ha that are located at Stancija Meneghetti, we have planted Merlot (about 80%), Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. As for white varieties, we have Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc. We rooted up the existing Malvazia, and today we grow it in the Buje region, for we think that the white soil gives much better results with Malvazia. Today we have about 40,000 vines. The second site of 5 to 6 ha in the Buje area (our acquisition made by going into partnership with Goran Hanžek in the newly founded firm Meneghetti Wines, which deals only with the production of wine and olive oil, detached from the tourism that we have dealt with since the beginning) has vineyards that I am particularly proud of. There we have Pinot Noir that is the base for the sparkling wine we have started to make, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon that we use for our white label Merlot, and Malvazia and Chardonnay from which in combination with the Chardonnay from the red earth we make our Meneghetti Bijelo (White).
Vino istriano che parla internazionale
When I started making wine, I intended to make just two wines: Meneghetti White and Meneghetti Red. When Goran Hanžek came in a bit more than three years ago, we decided to step up production to meet the needs of the market, making wines acceptable to everyone in terms of price, but not banal wines. So we decided on a second line – Malvazia with a dash of Chardonnay, and Merlot, which was a real hit because there are few reds at this price of this quality.
From one of the worst harvests in the history of Istria, the 2002, we completely accidently made a sparkling wine, because canny Movia didn’t want to throw away wine, and said we’d make sparkling wine of it. We toiled for five years to get something good and made no more than 4000 litres of sparkling wine, which produced contradictory reactions on the market. My luck was to have it praised by those who know wine. This was an additional spur for us to make a new, real sparkling wine, produced for the first time in 2010. We managed, and had a fantastic result and an excellent success on the market.
We are constantly going on planting, we have constantly more grapes, and we can have a more diverse list and more good wine. This year we are coming out with a fresh Chardonnay that will really have the attributes of the Chardonnay. We have gone with a small amount, 5 to 6000 bottles, to see how the market is going to react.
Another novelty is that this year, together with our new partner, Miho Glavić, we are going to put out three Dubrovnik wines, under the Kuća Glavić brand, which should address the local tourist market: Dubrovnik Malvazia, a rosé on a Syrah base and a light red, completely on a Syrah base. It is very interesting that in Dubrovnik Syrah should have been planted and turned out with such good results. It has a nice colour and depth, it is light and summery, with a fruity nose. We have also made larger quantities of rosé, in magnums, and I hope this will be the hit of the summer.
It’s my good luck to have turned a hobby into a business. We took something that was an excellent product in the hobby, and turned it into serious production. The precondition for this was partners who know wine, love wine and can help. Goran Hanžek, Ivan Pušnik, Miho Glavić and others got involved and believed in it. Both Bordeaux and Napa Valley were created by enthusiasts who set off on the right road and involved partners and financiers who supported this vision. It’s better to be a small partner in a good firm than a big partner in a firm that’s condemned to stay little or mediocre.
We took a crucial step five years ago by bringing in Walter Filiputti, our winemaker, the man who creates our wines with us. His stamp is what is visible at first glance, and then, after that, you see us, and the terroir, then the international assortment that is inside, and in each of these layers, you see the stamp of all of us.
In all of this I had great support from my business partner Zoran Marković, and, still more important, from my wife, and they both tolerated my absences. The idea that I had can succeed only in a consolidated setting in which you have yourself and a few more who pull you forward, as well as those who back you up and follow you.