The Goddess of Wine and her insanely enthusiastic troupe of Wineaux aimed their sights at a small, but highly productive region: Slovenia!
Slovenia is a country with a long history of winemaking, even longer than France, as the ancient Slovenians were much influenced by the ancient Celts in the centuries before the Common Era. A small country, bordering Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Croatia to the south and southeast, and Hungary to the northeast, it has both indigenous grapes as well as the grapes of the surrounding regions.
Blason Brut B3 Friuli Sparkling - This sparkling wine is made from 100% Ribolla Gialla grapes and is produced in a "long Charmat" method with 6 months of time in tanks. Blason is from Isonzo in Italy's north easternmost region called Friuli which borders with Slovenia. Pale straw color, bright and clear with small bubbles. Some stone fruit on the nose, maybe a bit of tangerine. Pleasant frizzante on the palate with nutty caramel overtones and a slightly citrusy finish. 12% abv. $11.99
2012 Edi Keber Collio Bianco - Edi Keber, viticulturalist of Zegla in the area of Collio, close by Brda, Slovenia, committed to the production of a single white wine, the Collio, which is a blend of three varieties: Friulano for structure, Malvasia Istriana for its aromatic qualities, and Ribolla Gialla for acidity. Pale lemon in color, the nose is full of cheese and petrol, jack fruit, quince, and something that made Shawn's nose tingle. On the palate, oddly funky earth, apples, minerality and a malolactic oiliness finished with some interesting salinity. Shawn, Debra and Marya did not like this wine; Michelle and I did like it for its Old World qualities; Barbara and JD were non-committal. I found this to be a refreshing and beautifully structured white wine. $24.99
2009 Batic Pinela Vipava Valley Slovenia - Pinela is an ancient, indigenous grape. Without the unique climate of the Vipava Valley, it would not survive. Winemaker Ivan Batic considers Pinela the top variety on his estate. He ferments this without temperature control or added yeast in open, upright Slovenian oak vats, then ages it in barrel for two years. Deep gold color with pears, caramel, clove, and peat moss on the nose. On the palate, clove, white pepper, honey/caramelized sugar and pears. We all liked it a lot. The wine’s rustic intensity would match tea-smoked chicken or duck. $29.99
2012 Vinakoper Refosk - Also known as "Refosco", in Italy, and as Refosko in Slovenia and Croatia, this wine was almost opaque medium purple in color, with cinnamon, cooked cherries, blueberries, black cherry and black pepper on the nose, with tart cherry, tobacco, light tannins and a terrific acidity on the finish. We felt this was a Monday night wine, except for Michelle, who was not impressed, even with the low price. 1 Liter bottling. $14.99
2012 Zajc Cvicek Dolenjska (1L) More a rosé than a red wine, we realized we should have chilled it before serving, and threw it in the fridge to cool down fast. The Cvicek is made with a mix of white and red grapes, including Blauer Koelner, Blaufrankisch, Kraljevina, Portugiezer, St. Laurent, Welschriesling and Yellow Plavec, grown in the Dolenjska in Slovenia. Its deep pink color reveals its youth. On the nose, soap, gunpowder, cough syrup, and some smoky flowers led to sour cherry with a Jolly Rancher tang and good acid on the finish. Everyone liked it once it cooled down. A summer drink. Also in 1 Liter size. $14.99
NV Cotar "Crna" Teran Frizzante - From Branko Cotar, among Slovenia's top organic winemakers, a few miles from the Italian border. Deep dark red color with soft frizzante. Not much nose, but a fruity Lambrusco-like flavor. No dosage and no disgorgement result in an unusual but delicious dry sparkling red wine. $27.99
All the wines were purchased from K & L Wines. JD provided a Slovenian goulash to accompany the tasting with Slovenian "brownies" for dessert.
Just a note at to finish - there was some leftover wine, so we sealed up the bottles and stuck them in the fridge door, as is our wont. The bottles were undisturbed until our return on Sunday (from the Wine Bloggers Conference), and to our dismay, they were DONE. A couple were actually undrinkable, and the one or two that were drinkable were significantly changed - and not for the better. So, if you treat yourself to these wines, drink 'em!
Next month, we virtually travel to Rioja! ¡Olé!