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Slovenia: Freshness and delicacy

Written by JW. Posted in Slovenia

Freshness and delicacy characterised the best wines shown at a tasting of the wines of Slovenia in June in London’s Millbank. A group of thirty or so growers, some already with UK distribution, others seeking it, showed a range of appetising whites and a number of impressive reds that showed good depth and density.

Growers at the tasting described 2010 as a tricky vintage but, despite the warning, I didn’t pick this up especially and most wines seemed balanced and well made. A few were a bit short and lacking oomph and some, both white and red, were spending rather exaggerated spells in oak but most were appealing. Price wise the best aren’t cheap but, in the white department especially, they certainly offer an interesting alternative to New Zealand, Austria and Northern Italy – and none of the best of these are especially cheap either.

Amongst the whites Dveri-Pax, Panvita Marof, Vino Valdhuber and Verus Vinogradi were all making extremely fresh and well made white wines. For the reds Santomas [dense and chewy], Igor Cerne [grippy] and Bordon were all doing interesting things with Refosco and Jakoncic was making good Cabernet/Merlot blends which seemed to age reasonably well.  Marjan Simcic, up on Slovenia’s border with Friuli in Goriska Brda, is well known and the organic wines here are impressive but pricey.

Amongst the UK merchants supporting these estates which included Waterloo Wine and Bancroft you have to marvel at the instincts and tireless work of Mark Savage MW [Savage Selection] in particular. Steely and determined, Mark is always there at the wine growing cutting edge – usually way before you. He pioneered the Pacific North West in the 1980s, represented some great Californian estates and, amongst a great many other things [he’ll correct me if I’m wrong here], sniffed out Francois Mitjaville’s Tertre Rôteboeuf and Roc de Cambes when they were still pretty much still under the radar. It was no surprise to see him at the tasting therefore or hear he’d been out and about in the Balkans for some time. Dveri-Pax was represented by him in the UK, and, not surprisingly, it made some of the most delicious, appetizing whites at the tasting.

The following were the highlights of what I tasted on Thursday, 8th June 2011 at the second Slovenian Press and Trade event:

Bordon, Refosk 2008, Slovenska Istria

[100% Refosco] Red/black; deep to the rim; spicy nose with lift; some tobacco, pine and herbs; fruit here and nicely done; some cherry too. Soft on finish but full. Pretty good. 87/100

Dveri-Pax, Sipon 2010 Stajerska Slovenija

[100% Furmint, hand picked, controlled ferment, 3 months on lees]. Colours; bold and strong nose; some real race here and mineral; taut palate with lees influence. Good zip at the end. 88+/100

Dveri-Pax, Riesling 2009, Stajerska Slovenija

[100% Riesling, hand picked, controlled ferment, 3 months on lees] Green gold; fresh, some citrus, limes and peaches; piercing; very precise palate; classical; great minerality and freshness; taut. Excellent 91+/100

Dveri-Pax, Pinot Gris 2009, Stajerska Slovenija

[100% Pinot Gris, same winemaking as above]Virtually colourless with hint of green; broadly flavoured wine; full with minerality; good depth and quite racy. Well done. 90/100

Dveri-Pax, Chardonnay 2007, Maribor

[hand picked, controlled ferment and aged for 18 months on lees on large 3500 litre Slavonian oak barrels] Very fine and taut; real finesse; again piercing and very precise; some citrus too; elegance here alongside minerals and pebbles; good depth. Like fine Chablis. 90+/100

Panvita Marof, Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Prekmurje – Slovenija

Colourless; fresh, grassy SB – meadow-like with nettles; attractive; fresh palate with some bite and lees notes; goodish grip at end 87/100

Vino Valdhuber, Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Stajerska – Slovenija

Colourless; some candy and fresh cut grass; candy again on the palate with pear drops; delicate; lacks the aromatic punch of NZ sauvignons but just as refreshing. 88/100

Vino Valdhuber, Chardonnay 2010, Starjerska Slovenija

Colourless; some minerals and grass; pretty clean; round and attractive palate with zip; appetizing. 87+/100

Vino Valdhuber, Renski Rizling, 2010, Starjerska Slovenija[100% Riesling]

Colourless; some straw and minerals; aromatic quite spicy with nice zip. Fresh and appetizing. 87+/100

Pullus Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Stajerska Slovenija

Pale colour; fresh; some animal; nice candy and freshness. Pretty good. 85+/100

Pullus Pinot Grigio 2010 Stajerska Slovenija

Fresh; peardrops; almonds’; fresh; nice palate; taut with candy and almonds. Bite. 85+/100

Pullus, Gewurtztraminer 2009 Stajerska Slovenija

Dry auslese style; honey, spices and some perfume. 86/100

Pullus, Chardonnay 2009 Stajerska Slovenija

Green gold; fresh looking; some roundness; minerality and pebbles; oakish; round and easy going. 85+/100

Verus Vinogradi, Furmint 2010 Stajerska Slovenija

[10% French oak for 4 months] Slate grey’green; fresh grapey nose; candy; full flavoured palate; attractive with bite; nice zip here and roundness; not bad – a wine with delicacy and pretty appetizing. 87/100

Verus Vinogradi Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Stajerska Slovenija

Colourless; fresh; herbs; some ripeness and sweat; crisp apples too; good length and delicacy again; some candy and pear drops on the finish. 87/100

Verus Vinogradi Riesling 2010 Stajerska Slovenija

Slate grey; fresh; minerals and a whiff or lime; minerally palate with nice bite; some residual here but race too. Attractive pear drops and limes on the finish. 88+/100

Verus Vinogradi Pinot Gris 2010 Stajerska Slovenija

Colourless; minerals and slate again; more candy on the palate; taut with freshness; nice pear drop notes. Bite at the end. Goodish. 87/100   

Igor Cerne, Refosk 2009, Slovenska Istra

[100% Organic Refosk] Red; plums, cherry and cream; some jam; easy and soft palate; full. Interesting. 85+/100

Igor Cerne, Refosk KVI 2008, Slovenska Istra ‘Selection’

[100% Organic Refosk] Deep and intense looking; some fruit and density on the nose; more structured wine with density, grip and tannin. Promising in a grippy way. 86-87/100

Igor Cerne, Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Slovenska Istra

[100% Cab, all aged in 50:50 used barriques and 500 litre barrels for 15 months] Deep earthy black red; some cherry with cassis and blackcurrant; ripe with a not unattractive medicinal/herbal edge; fruity palate with an almost Oz like minty ripeness; some chew and structure. Good effort – dark and chewy. 88+/100

Jakoncic, Carolina Red 2007 Brda

[70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot] Ripe; some cherry and aged tones; herbs too; mid palate reasonably good. Interesting. 85/100

Jakoncic, Carolina Red 2000 Brda

[70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot] Mid red; ripe and round, some leather and lift; no decay; warm entry on the palate; some spice; quite attractive. 86+/100

Santomas, Grande Cuvee 2005, Slovenian Istria

[100% Refosco, 24 months in new oak 14.3%] Deep and arterial in colour; cassis and blackcurrant; more jam; big and resinous; tannic. A whopper! 87/100

Santomas, Antonius Refosco 2005, Slovenian Istria

[100% Refosco, 24 months in new oak 14.2%] Deep and inky; menthol, spices; real density; some camphor; big and rich on the palate; ripe; chewy and really extracted. 88+/100

Santomas, Mezzo Forte, 2007, Slovenian Istria

[60% Refosco, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon – 18 months in used French oak and 2000l barrels 14.3%] Mid red; some oak, mint and menthol; herbal and spicy; Refosco is an interesting variety; chew and ripe tannin [lots], some length and chew. 88-90/100

Marjan Simcic, Pinot Grigio 2009 Brda – Collio Sloveno

[Organic, stainless-steel ferment, 8 months age on lees 13.5%] Spicy and attractive; some candy; quite appetizing. 88+/100

Marjan Simcic, Sauvignon Blanc Opoka 2007, Brda – Collio Sloveno

[Oak barrels for 22 months then six months in bottle 14%] Green gold; smoky, oyster shell and nuts; some spiky notes; apples; full bodied and ripe palate. Good. 88/100

Marjan Simcic, Chardonnay Opoka 2008 , Brda – Collio Sloveno

[Organic, oak maturation for 22 months, then 6 months in bottle 13.5%] Gold; oyster shell; quite big Chardonnay; some cream, peppermint and mineral; ripe. 88/100

Marjan Simcic, Pinot Noir 2008 Brda – Collio Sloveno

[Organic; oak maturation for 26 months, then three months in bottle 13.5%] Mid depth; some strawberry and oak resin; spice; some perfume – ok but a bit subdued [submerged?] by the oak maturation regime? 86?/100

Marjan Simcic, Merlot Opoka 2006 Brda – Collio Sloveno

[Organic 14.5%] Dense red; very ripe; chocolate; plums; bone dry – almost like Barolo; rich and dense and with lots of wood. Big and great if you like this sort of thing – I do. 90+/100 

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