Ivan Damjanić is a young 30-something winemaker whose wines are more famous in Croatian capital Zagreb than in Istria. He proudly tells me that he owns most of the vineyards I can see from his house in a small hilltop hamlet of Fuškulin. On 3,8 hectares he grows three white and three red grape varieties, of which two indigenous ones, Istarska Malvazija and Borgonja, predominate. Borgonja is produced by maybe only two or three other winemakers in Istria. Very fruity, lively mineral, a kind of wine that does not want to be pretentious, it does not fight with the food but just caresses your palate. Very easy drinking, enjoyable in all seasons, and it is hard to find a wine in Istria with such great food pairing versatility. It goes with cheese, fish, meat, pasta, pršut (cured ham), sausages… In summer, make sure to chill it slightly. Ivan mentioned that it pairs greatly with sardines, fried or even better char-grilled. I do believe that with its joyfulness Borgonja will perfectly fit every good summer barbecue party.
Damjanić also has great Malvasia and Chardonnay, but I fell in love in other two excellent reds: Merlot, rich in ripe fruit with a spicy aftertaste, and Clemente, a balanced blend of Merlot, Cabernet and Teran, with floral aromas and lots of fresh, juicy red fruits in the mouth.