The Radovans produced their first commercial bottles of wine in 1999 but Franko Radovan’s ancestors were probably making wine 400 years before his first production! His two great-grand-uncles founded the village by building the first house (now a ruin) in Radovani and it is still populated largely by members of the Radovan family. The houses were built in a circle, like a corral, with high walls and gates to protect their livestock from marauders.
Husband and wife Franko and Danijela continue to make their wines using modern methods, stainless steel and oak, but use no pesticides, herbicides or fungicides in the vineyards, believing that when there is a balance of nature in the vineyards you won’t have many problems in the winery. So they concentrate on building up their vines’ immune systems – their green harvest is radical, with ruthless crop cutting and paring down of each bunch to concentrate the juice and make premium wines.
The Radovans make excellent examples of indigenous malvazija and teran on the familiar ‘terra rossa’ soil, but are also well known for their chardonnay, merlot and cabernet sauvignon (in fact we have been told by another distinguished winemaker that their 2004 cabernet sauvignon was world class, although we think their 2007 is exceptional too!).
A brief visit in December one year with torrential rain outside turned into a whole afternoon’s talking, drinking and eating of pure pork sausages from the pig farm next door, cooked in long strings by Franko over the huge open fire in the tasting room, with jugs of teran poured straight from the barrels. If you have to be holed up in Radovani with the Radovans you definitely won’t be upset.
The Radovan wine label has to be one of the most iconic caricatures of Istrian life – the Radovan pair overlook their stone family home, whilst around them cavort an Istrian rooster, goat, fish and swallows, while the land complete with vineyards of course and red soil can be seen in the distance.
Perfect life, perfect harmony, perfect wines.