Slovenia? Wild, wild wines

The article in the Los Angeles Times.

Yesterday’s article by Corie Brown in the L.A. Times, From Slovenia? Wild, wild wines speaks enthusiastically of wines from Slovenia, a region that “is getting hotter by the minute”. The article highlights the boldness of Slovenian winemakers, who are young, experimenting and obtaining some really good results. Revered wine expert expert Jancis Robinson is quoted to have said after her recent trip to Slovenia:

“They are quite anarchic and individual in their use of oak and, to my mind, are making more distinctive wines than most of their neighbors in [Italy’s] Friuli.”

Brown also spoke to Pieter Verheyde, head sommelier at Bastide in West Hollywood, one of the best restaurants in the Los Angeles area that have embraced Slovenian wines in their wine list. For Verheyde, “they’re lively and complex with unexpected flavors”, and bring diversity to Bastide’s 1,400 label list. He pairs the Santomas Malvazija with a ceviche of scallops, the Refošk with dry aged beef, and the Movia Pinot Noir with Hawaiian sea bass. It all sounds delicious.

The two winemakers that the article talks most about are also the most famous ones in the US. Aleš Kristiančić from Movia is one of the biggest producers in Slovenia, with a production of 10,000 cases of wine a year from 57 acres of vineyards that would be considered tiny by American standards. Movia, established in 1970, is also the oldest private winery in the country and has been selling wines to the US for almost 10 years.

Another famous Slovenian winemaker is Joško Gravner whose wines, according to Silver Lake Wine co-owner George Cossette, have introduced many adventurous enthusiasts to Slovenian wines. Gravner is the one that started the amphora project – in which Gravner ferments his wines in clay jugs buried up to their necks in the ground in homage to ancient Roman tradition. “Gravner is stripping away the human intervention to create minimalist art,” Cossette says.

The article concludes saying that although not many Americans know where Slovenia is, let alone its wines, selling them requires more time than with other wines, and customers need to taste the wines and take the time to get to know them. But it is that sense of discovery, of adventure, that makes them so exciting.

If you haven’t had the chance to try Slovenian wines, or if you are not convinced yet, the L.A. Times article came with extensive tasting notes of a great selection of both whites and reds, including some that you can get through Blue Danube Wines:

2004 Batic Pinot Gris Reserve: “A weird and wonderful wine from Vipava, with delicate aromas of sesame seeds, herbs and wildflowers. It has good acidity and a lingering fresh apple finish”.

2004 Santomas Malvazija: “From the Koper district in Primorska, a richly aromatic wine with a round mouth feel, zippy fresh pineapple and other tropical fruit flavors”.

2005 Guerila Pinela: “From the Vipava district in Primorska, a delicate honey-toned wine with stony Chablis-like minerality”.

2003 Kogl Magna Dominica Albus: “A blend of equal parts Auxerrois, Riesling and Yellow Muskat, this wine has inviting peach aromas and a taste of honey”.