This is the story of a train trip. It is a rather different train. Its driver, the Makinista, conducts it. This particular train goes through low plains and high ground, wide valleys and tight meadows. Forests, lakes, woods, vineyards, you can spot them scattered around the railroads. Our train departed from Kanfanar Station, in Istria, Croatia. To get it going, the Makinista used some charcoal in the train’s engine, as it was an old vapor train. Ahead laid a long journey to Rovijn, with two stops in the middle: Okreti and Sošići. For this trip, the Makinista brought some flowers with him. They were part of a present, a surprise gift for a loved one. Then upon arrival at Rovijn and a short stop, the train would make its return trip to Kanfanar. This train line is known as La Linea.
This beautiful train story serves us to introduce an organic and natural wine producer from Istria: Danijel Bastijačnić, owner of Vina Lunika. Wine has been is his family for some generations, as it was his great grandfather the one who started planting vines. Now Danijel manages a small farm, maybe around 3 hectares, that he has planted mostly with Malvazija and the rest is Pinot Gris and Yellow Muscat among the white varieties and Red Muscat, Teran, Borgonja and Cabernet Sauvignon among the red ones.
Danijel works organically and also follows biodynamic methods. For his white wines he likes to do different periods of maceration on the skins. In the case of his Malvazija he takes that up to six months. He also conducts long macerations in his red wines, with one of them, the Teran, going up to one year in the skins. He likes to use low amounts of sulfites, below 20 mg/l, mainly to protect the wines.
The name of Vina Lunika comes from the names of his two daughters, Lucija and Anika. For naming his wines, he found his inspiration on that train line of his childhood, where the playing fields were close to the locomotive filling the air with clouds of vapor and the aromas of burnt charcoal. Danijel produces four Malvazijas: Prima Volta (First Time), Station, Viaggio Lungo (Long Trip) and Ritorno. Viaggio Lungo is the one he macerates on the skins for six months. A Rosé Borgonja is called Mi Fior (My Flower). The basic Teran is called Tender and Carbun is the name of the Teran going one year on the skins with two more years in oak barrels. A Yellow Muscat is called Regalo, a sweet wine made Passito style. The Red Muskat is called Sorpresa and Makinista gives name to his Pinot Gris.
The white wines go all through the skins. Makinista and Prima Volta for two days, Ritorno and Station for ten days and Viaggio Lungo for six months. That’s the way Danijel loves to work with them, in the traditional Istrian style. Viaggio Lungo is an amazing wine. You might think it would be an extreme wine enduring six months of skin contact yet the wine is smooth and silky. Tender aromas to honey and peach, delicate palate of a beautifully made orange wine. One of those wines you keep on enjoying mesmerized by its perfume and texture.
Danijel Bastijačnić has a fascinating way of working with his wines. We will talk to him soon to learn more about it.
Photos (C) Vina Lunika