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Posts Tagged ‘Slovenia

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Primorska 2013, Refošk, Rojac ($24.75, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Located on Slovenia‘s Istrian peninsula and just inland from the Adriatic coast, the Rojac estate has been making wine since the 17th century. The young Uroš Rojac took the reins in 2005, when his father unexpectedly passed away. 100% Refošk (aka Refosco d’Istria) from 13-year-old organically farmed vines rooted in sandy soil. Manually harvested. Fermented (with indigenous yeasts) and macerated in open vats for 10 to 15 days. Matured 18 months in oak and six months in stainless steel. Unfiltered and unfined. Vegan compatible. Around 20,000 bottles were produced. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vadim Fonta.

Fresh nose of blackberry, slate and distant spice. Medium-bodied. The very forward, juicy, sweet-tart red and black fruit is brightened by incandescent acidity, darkened by minerals. Pliable tannins add texture as much as structure. There’s not a lot of depth but good length. A few around the table were unenthusiastic but several of us found it had an earthy appeal. Would gladly make this straightforward and tasting wine a weeknight regular. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG October 13th tasting: flight 8 of 9

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Written by carswell

December 5, 2017 at 13:04

Orange anarchy

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Based in Šentjur, in eastern Slovenia, about 20 km northwest of Zagreb, Aci Urbajs became interested in wine-making in 1969 when, as a boy, he worked in a vineyard his parents had acquired. In 1987, he received, as a present for graduating from university, a small vineyard on the Rifnik hill, where unearthed Roman artifacts pointed to a long wine-making tradition on the site. A disciple of organic farming from early on, he was soon attracted to biodynamics and joined the Slovenian Demeter association in 1999. In the cellar, his approach is resolutely minimalist: spontaneous fermentation, no racking, no filtering, no fining. Two lines of wines are made: one with a small amount of added sulphur (20 to 30 g/l vs. the allowed 250 g/l), the other a “natural” line with no added sulphur. Chardonnay, Kerner, Pinot Gris, Welschriesling, Blaufränkisch and Pinot Noir are grown. Production is tiny, only a few thousand bottles a year.

Posavje 2012, Organic Anarchy, Aci Urbajs ($59.25, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A blend of Chardonnay, Kerner and Laški Rizling (“Italian Riesling” aka Welschriesling) from vines planted in 1988 and rooted in marble-rich soil. Two weeks’ maceration on the skins. Fermented in open barrels using indigenous yeasts. Matured one year. Unfiltered and unfined. No added sulphur. Vegan-friendly. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vadim Fonta.

Hazy orange. Surprising, evolving nose: spicy, “kind of soapy,” “lit cigar,” dried orange peel and a hint of honey, among other things. Medium-bodied. Surprisingly fresh and vibrant for a five-year-old orange wine. The mineral-dusted fruit (stone fruit mainly) is almost sweet and yet so savoury. A hint of botrytis only increases the already complex set of flavours and aromas. Bright tingly acidity and a tannic rasp turn the silky texture a little raw-silky. The long finish is marked by pepper and nut notes. The way the wine evolved in the glass suggests carafing an hour or two beforehand may be a good idea. Very impressive. I look forward to encounters with Urbajs’s other wines. (Buy again? The high price notwithstanding, yes, a bottle to savour at leisure.)

MWG October 13th tasting: flight 4 of 9

Orange crush

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Located in Šempas in the western Vipava valley, about 20 kilometres east of Gorizia on the Italian border, the family-run Batič estate can trace its roots back to the late 16th century. It is known locally for its organically grown fruits and increasingly for its wines made from local and international varieties.

Primorska 2015, Zaria, Batič ($44.75, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A blend of Pinela (55%), Zelen (20%) Rebula (aka Ribolla Gialla, 5%), Vitovska (3%), Rumeni Mušat (aka Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, 2%) and Chardonnay (1%) from biodynamically farmed vines planted in 1982 and rooted in marl soil of the Zaria vineyard. Manually harvested. Spontaneous co-fermentation on the skins in non-temperature-controlled open vats. Matured in Solvenian oak barrels. Unfiltered, unfined. No added sulphur. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Vadim Fonta.

Hazy orange-bronze. A whiff of volatile acidity gives way to white spice, “cake,” yeast, minerals, peach and orange aromas. Lighter-bodied than expected (based on the appearance and nose) yet also very present. Complex and intensely flavoured with fruit, spice and minerals vying for attention. Light tannins and bright acidity give it some bite. The long, saline finish brings a hint of nuttiness and “lingering tortillas.” Characterful, engaging, satisfying, food-friendly and relatively affordable: what’s not to like? (Buy again? Yep.)

MWG October 13th tasting: flight 3 of 9

Written by carswell

November 27, 2017 at 13:13

Primo Malvasia

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Uroš Klabjan’s eponymous estate is located on the Istrian peninsula in Slovenia just south of the Italian border and three kilometres inland from the Gulf of Trieste. The around 10 hectares of vineyards are devoted mainly to indigenous varieties, primarily Malvasia and Refosco. Most of the vines are several decades old though one plot of ungrafted Malvasia is well past the 100-year mark. The estate is certified organic and the wine-making practices are traditional and non-interventionist. Annual production is typically in the 30,000-bottle range.

Primorska 2013, Malvazija Maceracija, Klabjan ($53.00, private import, 6 bottles/case)
As far as I can tell, Klabjan makes two Malvasias: the fresh and easy-going white label and this, the more savoury and complex black label. 100% Malvasia from dry-farmed old vines. Manually harvested. Macerated 10 days on the skins. Spontaneous fermentation. Underwent malolactic fermentation. Matured 30 months on the lees in oak barrels. Unfiltered and unfined. No added sulphur (total sulphites: 35 mg/l). Vegan-friendly. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: Vadim Fonta.

Hazy straw-bronze. Inexhaustibly protean nose of orange, apple, apricot, “rye whisky” and hints of vanilla and smoke that eventually heads into earthy mushroom territory. Smooth textured and possessed of a certain weight, layered and enveloping. The complex set of flavours echoes the nose and adds lees and minerals. Luminous acidity throws it all in relief, a effect sustained through the very long finish. Perfectly accessible now but also capable of ageing for years. Vibrant and engaging, this spellbinding wine was a favourite of just about everyone around the table. Despite the high price, we would have taken a couple of cases had any been available. (Buy again? Gladly. And I’ll make a beeline for any Klabjan wines I run across in the future.)

MWG October 13th tasting: flight 2 of 9

Written by carswell

November 25, 2017 at 11:49

White orange

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Vipavska Dolina 2015, Bela, Burja ($37.60, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A blend of Istrian Malvasia (30%), Welschriesling (30%), Ribola Gialla (30%) and unspecified other varieties from biodynamically farmed vines grown in the Vipava Valley and ranging from 25 to 75 years in age. Macerated on the skins for eight days before pressing. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks. Matured in 25 to 50 hl Slavonian oak barrels. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.

To all appearances, not an orange wine; the skin contact may add complexity and depth but the colour is lighter and more golden than, say, the Konkret Weiss, the nose is aromatic without being particularly estery/phenolic and if tannins are to be found, they escaped my notice. So, what are the aromatics? Preserved lemon, white pepper, quartz, maybe a floral note. In the mouth, the wine is very dry and savoury. The fruit takes a back seat to the minerals and a surprisingly intense salinity while sleek if sustained acidity counters the oily texture. The finish is long and vapourous. A food wine if ever there were one and probably a bottle that won’t suffer from a few years in the cellar. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG June 8th tasting: flight 2 of 6

Written by carswell

July 8, 2017 at 12:00

My dinner with wapiti

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wapiti and I bought a bottle of the Movia last spring intending to drink it together but only got around to opening it at a recent dinner also attended by the other half of Pork Futures.

Cour-Cheverny 2001, Domaine des Huards (around $16 at the SAQ when purchased in c. 2003)
100% biodynamically farmed Romorantin. Lightly pressed, then racked. Fermented at 18 to 20ºC (64 to 68ºF) in stainless steel, then racked and left to mature on the lees for six months.
Pale straw gold with a green cast. Lemon and wax on the nose, with a faint oxidative note and a Riesling-like hint of kerosene. Richly textured, bone dry, with coursing acidity. Flavour reminiscent of lemon pith and oxidized sour apple on a chalky substrate. A hint of powdered ginger creeps in on the long, bitter-tinged finish.  Seemed a little flat on opening, then blossomed for about half an hour before slowly losing its edge; in other words, considerably less vibrant than the bottle opened in 2007 and probably a little past peak, though still fascinating, even memorable. An excellent aperitif but not a successful match for bruschetta topped with a savoury zucchini “jam.”

The SAQ currently carries two other wines from this winemaker (here and here) but hasn’t stocked the Cour-Cheverny for several years. Hard to understand why. These days, as far as I know, the only way to get a Romorantin or Romorantin blend in Quebec is through the private import channel.

Brda 2002, Veliko Rdeče, Movia ($39.00, 11213757)
A blend dominated by Merlot with some Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon (the 2004 is 70-20-10) from organically farmed vines an average 35 years old. Alcoholic fermentation takes place in large tanks with natural yeasts obtained from the same pre-harvested grapes. Macerated three to four weeks until the end of fermentation, when the pomace cap settles and clears the wine.  Transferred to French oak barriques for malolactic fermentation and six years’ aging on the lees with no racking. Sulphur is avoided until bottling, when a squirt of sulphur dioxide is added for stabilization. 13% ABV.
Opaque/hazy dark maroon, lighter at the rim but with very little bricking. Complex nose of cassis, spicy plum, iron, sawed wood, hints of kelp and smoke. Rich, broad, deep on the palate. Fruity but not to excess, the ripe sweetness showing mainly on the mid-palate. Soft, velvety texture. The tannins are very nearly resolved. Long finish with a spicy note. Very smooth and drinkable. Went supremely well with a 1.3 kg dry-aged prime rib grilled over very high heat.

Astoundingly, there’s some of this left at the SAQ. A well-made, fully mature, ten-year-old, world-class red for under $40. What’s not to like?

Written by carswell

October 12, 2012 at 22:27