Piquentum: From Mussolini’s Bunker to a Winery

I first came across Piquentum Wines a few years ago when looking for a Teran I hadn’t tried before. I loved their wine so much that I decided to put Piquentum on my first Harvest food and Wine Tour  and then on my Slovenia-Istria Tour. I first met the owner Dimitri in October 2012 and never looked back.

Upon arriving at Piquentum Winery, my guests and I had the same three reactions:

1) This winemaker is really young.

2) This is some damn fine wine.

3) I’ve never tasted wine in an old army bunker before!

Yes, the Piquentum Winery is located under the Istrian hill town of Buzet, which is famous for having the largest truffle omelettte in the world (2000 eggs and 10 kg of truffles). Piquentum’s vineyards have a view out to another hill town, the picturesque town of Motovun, which has an amazing outdoor film festival in July. Needless to say, it’s a beautiful place.

I caught up with Dimitri  to learn more about the brilliant winery that has taken shelter in an out of commission bunker and is now helping to lead a wave of new and delicious wines out of Istria.

What brought you to Buzet from France?

I came to Buzet from France because my father is from Istria and I wanted to get back to my roots. I also had the feeling that Istria has good potential for vine growing and winemaking.

How is it different making wine in France versus in Croatia?

Wine making in France is really interesting but not as challenging as in Croatia. In Croatia we have to “re-invent” everything, in France there is 500 years of experience and stability. In Croatia there’s only about 20 years… So everything has to be done!

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How much are you producing yearly?

We produce 20,000 bottles a year.

What’s the history behind your wine cellar (old army bunker)?

The wine cellar was a water tank made in 1929 by the Italian army (under Mussolini’s direction). It was made as an underground bunker to preserve drinkable water in case of attack. In the 70’s during Yugoslavia, the government transformed the water tank into a winery.

Who taught you about Teran and Malvazija?

Malvazija and Teran are local varieties and I’ m actually still learning about them. As I said before, we have everything to reinvent here , so every harvest is a new experiment. For my own inspiration I ‘m using  traditional techniques driven by modern knowledge and technology.

If they made a movie about your story what would it be called?

The movie would be “Frenchslavia”

For someone who has never tried Teran, how you would describe the taste/experience of your Teran?

My Teran is fruity, earthy, alive and elegant. But it has some wildness, which should let you know you’re already  in the Balkans!



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