Two Tastes of Demian

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe

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Andy Šipetić pours up a taste.

Our first encounter with the wines of Demian and the wine maker himself, Andy Šipetić was in Novi Sad, Serbia of all places. It was somewhat logical as we were there for a visit with friends and he was there for the wine festival that they’ve been holding for the last fourth years. While that visit gave us an initial taste of his wines, a lunch with the wines expertly paired to the dishes, and music played by Andy (who used to tour as a guitarist for the Gypsy Kings before making wine full time) we didn’t get a chance to see his winery. For that, we’d have to go to Istria and so naturally, once we got to Istria we made our way down there.

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The elegant Barrique

The Demian winery has been producing in one way or another for about the last 80 years. From 1928 to the 1990’s, they produced bulk wine for Italian producers. For the last 14 years, they started making their own wines and the last seven has seen their brand and production grow a great deal more. They produced 25,000 liters from six hectares of land in 2006. While this isn’t a tremendous amount, Andy says that they are growing and will they’ll have nine hectares producing next year. For wines, they stick to the Istrian staple of Malvazija, although they toss in a bit of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon as well.

In both Novi Sad and Istria, we started tasting with the 2006 Malvazija. When comparing the two tasting, it is obvious that this is a wine best served cold. In Novi Sad it was good. The nose was soft and the body was crisp. The finish started off fine, but opened up a great deal more with air.

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Demian’s malvazija

In Istria, we had the wine at about 12C, which is the proper temperature for it. It mellows out a great deal more and is very smooth. Melon flavors come in to the body and it becomes this wine that you can finish without even thinking about. It’s very pleasing to drink and have on a hot day when we were at the winery.

For comparison, we had the 2004 Malvazija. It has a tad less alcohol to it and a more earthy nose. The overall characteristics were very similar to the 2006, but the wine was more complex, especially the body, showing how age treats this wine and it treats it very well. You might even be able to age this out for five years or a bit more and have it be quite optimal for drinking, albeit drinking should always be done cold.

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Andy navigates his wines

We then tasted the 2003 Barrique, which is comprised of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, making it something of an inverse Claret. It’s a lovely wine and predictable so given that 2003 was a very good year for this region due to a perfectly hot summer. The nose is soft, betraying subtle earthy tones that grow as you bury your nose in the glass. The body is dry, but still complex, full of flavors and a mahogany woodiness to it that is very pleasing. The barrel comes through a great deal in the overtones of the finish, roughing up the grape a good deal to make you want to keep coming back for more. It’s a wine of full, bold flavors that we found delicious and had to take home a bottle of for further enjoyment.

As one of the few people we visited multiple times, we were very thankful to have bumped in to Andy for not only giving us a taste of his very well-crafted wines, but also as an impetus to make the trip down to Istria in the first place. The region is getting hot and with good reason, considering wineries like Demian producing some top notch vintages in recent years.