Food & Wine
Synonyms: Teran (Slovenia), Refosco d’ Istria (Italy), Teran Noir (France), Mondeuse (France), Kraški Teran (Slovenia)
Origin: Karst, Slovenian and Croatian Istria
Tradition: a variety indigenous to Istria and the Karst, where for thousands of years it has produced a wine as dark as rabbit’s blood, and written about by Roman historian Pliny
The wine: that made in Slovenian Istria is an attractive ruby colour with traces of purple and a raspberry and redcurrant aroma. The variety yields an entirely different type of wine on the Karst plateau, the wine known as teran. It is wonderfully dark, with the malolactic fermentation creating the highest level of lactic acid of any wine in Slovenia. Along with cviček, it is a Slovenian speciality protected by the traditional speciality guaranteed criteria
Quality: both refošk and teran are quality wines
Distribution: refošk is found in Istria, kraški teran in the Karst
Best areas: their home areas
The first special thing about teran is that it is made from refošk grapes, which in Koper and elsewhere in Slovenian and Croatian Istria produce a totally different wine. Teran is thus defined by its terroir, and the Karst plateau at an altitude of 300 metres between the Gulf of Trieste and the Vipava Valley, with its burja, its harsher climate and its terra rossa. Teran fully deserves legal protection according to the traditional speciality guaranteed criteria. Not only is it made by a traditional procedure, it also has a long, long history. Even before the Romans, the Greeks enjoyed the black wine of the Karst under the name of Praetorian wine of the north Adriatic. Writing in the 1st century CE, Pliny says that Livia, wife of Augustus, attributed her longevity (she lived to be 82, a rare age for those times) to the drinking of Pucinum wine, perhaps the forerunner of teran. According to Pliny the wine was made on stony hills near the source of the Timavo. Or, put otherwise, on the Karst plateau.
Kraški teran is also a special case in sensory terms. The wine is a deep, dark red colour, with lower alcohol (9% to 11%) and higher acidity (8 to 11 g/l) than refošk. It is dry, and rather refreshing, the majority being drunk in the first year, with very soft tannins and an aroma of raspberries, blueberries and other forest fruits. It has an exceptional level of extraction, which gives it fullness of body and a firm backbone. Another feature is the high level of lactic acid and amino acids. Kraški teran has long been considered a healthy wine, thanks to its rich acid content and the high levels of certain phenolic substances that act as antioxidants in the body.
Even though foreign tasters do not rate teran highly because of its prominent inharmonious characteristics, the same tasters recognise that, in its home environment and served with Karst prosciutto, it is an unrepeatable and genuine culinary experience to be treasured. In this sense too, teran justifiably bears the name of a Slovenian speciality. Ivan Kuljaj
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