If you happen to visit Ljubljana you’ll definitely enjoy in its beauty and what it can offer to visitors from all parts of the world. While walking around old Ljubljana town be on the lookout for a tiny little store named Balthazar. It is a recent addition to the wine scene in Ljubljana and is located just on the mid-way towards Ljubljana castle at Gornji trg 22.
In this little store you can find a lovely selection of wines from renowned Slovenian wine makers (Edi Simčič, Movia, Kabaj, Marjan Simčič, Batič, Rodica, Guerila, Joaness – Protner), but also selected wines from other countries, various liquors and tasty ecological delicacies from Dolenjska region. The selection is already broad and they keep on expanding it.
They are organizing various tastings and I’m helping there with different courses all related to wine. Couple of days ago we prepared an introduction course on how wine is made and how to taste it. The audience was thrilled and as it looks it will become a regular thing there …
You can drop by their Facebook page and give them a like to stay in touch. Or even better, drop by the store and enjoy a sip of some lovely wine … And if you’re interested in having a tasting or wine course just let them know (or leave me a note).
In below gallery you can get a look at how lovely Balthazar looks like and how we enjoyed in our wine trip … Photo credit goes to Polona Novak and her smartphone, images are unfiltered and unprocessed
What a treat I have this time for you. Finally we are touching ground also at our Posavje region. It’s surface consists of 2.700 hectares of vineyards and is divided into 3 wine districts:
Bizeljsko – Sremič (862 ha)
Dolenjska and (1.475 ha) and
Bela krajina (366 ha).
Today we are stopping in Bela krajina and since we are here we must mention – Otmar Šturm. Oti, as friends call him, is not only known for his multiple times awarded wines, but also as being one of the most innovative wine makers from the region. In times when Posavje was not know as warranty for high quality wines he chose to walk the path of quality. Focused on low yield, he’s making wines that are reach with aromas, full bodied and persistent.
This example says best; eager and full of enthusiasm he went buying a vineyard in 1993 without looking what variety was planted. Later he found out it was Gewürztraminer which at the time was not on the list of suggested or allowed wine varieties there. According to Slovenian legislation you cannot put on the label a vintage that is not on these lists so he managed to obtain all documentation as white blend, allowing him to put the wine on market. This wine is now found under the name of “Prepovedani sadež – Forbidden fruit” and its 2007 vintage was awarded with Silver medal at Decanter’s Wine World Awards in 2012. And this is just one of the cases.
You can sense Otis decision in this Pinot noir. After the picking grapes went through a 14 days maceration. Oti jokies that it lasted for couple of days more, until at the end only seeds were floating on top – and these seeds are then used to make a delicious bread. After that wine was laid into a mix of new and used barrels for 2 years and left to ferment on lees, where it also went through malolactic fermentation. At end the wine was bottled without filtration.
This Pinot noir is of a ruby red color with garnet shades, it is quite consistent and crystal clear.
On the nose it is intense and fine, with aromas of preserved fruit like plum and sour cherry jam, dried flowers, spices like cloves, liquorice and vanilla, dried tobacco, chocolate, ethereal and a gentle hint of roasted almonds and graphite. It is packed with an ample bag of aromas.
Its taste is dry, warm and soft, on the other side fresh, tannic (tannins are starting to round) and tasty. A balanced, intense, elegant, full bodied and persistent Pinot noir that is harmonious and ready to be enjoyed now. You can easily forget it in your cellar for tannins to round more and it has a good aging potential.
I was lucky to attend sommelier course with Oti this year, getting to know him and taste his wines. I still have some, so you can expect some related posts. Oti is also taking care of Metliška črnina website which is a nice source for wine news from the region. If you find yourself in Metlika I advise you to visit its castle. You’ll be able to taste Šturm wines in the restaurant and enjoy in local delicacies – Oti is owning the place there, so chances are you’ll even meet him in person.
You can find Šturm wines in some bigger retail stores, but also on-line here and here. Their website is unfortunately under construction but at least you can find contacts.
Well here we go again, finally time has come to finish this break – hope you didn’t miss me too much. We are starting this time with a wine that is coming from Steyer family, a Gewürztraminer which in Slovenia is called Dišeči traminec.
The Steyer family cultivates 16 hectares of vineyards on the south to south-eastern slopes of Plitvice, Aženski top and Police with the cellar located in Apače – Plitvica. Vineyards are planted with Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Pinot gris, Rheinriesling, Sauvignon, Yellow Muscat, Welschriesling, Pinot blanc and two red wine varieties – Pinot noir and Zweigelt.
Gewürztraminer is rendering top quality wine in the wine-growing distirct Radgona-Kapela gorice. Therefore the largest part of their vineyards is planted with it. They are cultivating it with greatest attention. Its attention is respected also in the cellar since it is their goal to produce a large palette of Traminer varieties starting from wines of normal vintage to special vintage wine sorts of the entire quality range. Absolutelz to mention also their sparkling wine made from Gewürztraminer by the classical méthode champenoise, and Gewürztraminer exclusive which was laid in oak barrels.
On the market you can find their wine sorted in 3 different ranges; white label which marks fresh wines ideal for every occasion, black label representing richer, more mature wines refined in oak barrels and black label with golden inscription which dedicated to predicates.
So here we go with this Gewürztraminer vintage 2011, as you see from images it is baring the white label and it is medium-sweet.
The wine is of a straw yellow color and has golden nuances. It is dense and crystal clear. On the nose it is intense and fine with aromas of ripe fruit like pears, strawberries, citruses, melon … You sense also floral notes of roses, spices like cloves and a gentle note of honey. It has a nice mineral note in the background too. It has a complex bouquet.
As mentioned the taste is medium-sweet, medium warm and soft, but has also a nice freshness and tasty. It is balanced, intense, elegant, of a full body and quite persistent. It is a harmonious wine ready to be fully appreciated now.
As you noticed even though this wine is wearing a white label the Gewürztraminer is represented at its best and it is also a good price-performance wine you can find on the market. I encourage you to try it and if you can share your taught in comments.
It’s the first day of 2014 so let me start it in due manner – with some wishes may 2014 be your year, a year of stars, love and sparkles, cheers!
And I will be cheering on this side with this Refošk, from Slovenian Istria region. Coming from Santomas, owned by the Glavina family from the hills of Šmarje pri Kopru. They own approximately 20 hectares of vineyards, mostly dedicated to Istrska Malvazija and Refošk, but they nurture also Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
On the market you can find Santomas’s two distinct lines of wines. One is dedicated to fresh wines that are put on the market the year after picking. The second is a line dedicated to nurtured red wines from vines that are growing on their best plots, from grapes that endured a rigorous selection and are later refined in oak barrels. Inside this line you’ll find following wines – Refošk Antonius, Cabernet Sauvignon Antonius and Grande cuvée.
Santomas is cooperating also with a renowned French oenologist – Claude Gros, from the year 2000. I had the pleasure of meeting him few years ago when they organized a memorable blind tasting and dinner at their cellar. Scroll down to see images from the tasting and if you’re traveling around make sure to stop there as the estate on its own is something to see.
Back to this Refošk now. This wine was given to me by a dear friend at a celebration for my graduation for 2nd level Sommelier and as the occasion calls time has come to taste is. We can see from the name that this one is from their top line and the name is also telling us the micro location of where Refošk grapes were grown – Sergaši. The fermentation was controlled in between 25 to 28°C, followed by a 30 day maceration. The wine was laid in new french barriques for 24 months where it did also the malolactic fermentation.
This wine has a deep ruby red color, it is clear and dense.
On the nose it is intense and rich, with very fine aromas of black cherry, blueberry and black currant jam, chocolate, dried tobacco leaves, vanilla, licorice, black pepper, roasted almonds …
In the mouth it is dry, warm and soft on the other hand it is fresh, tannic and tasty. Tannins are really present though the wine is still balanced. It is intense, elegant and has a robust body with a long aftertaste.
The wine is harmonic and ready to be enjoyed now, but I advise you keep it somewhere stored as its tannins needs some softening. I’d like to taste it again in 10 years to see how it has developed.
No wonder Santomas was mentioned also in A. Jullien’s book Topographie de tous les vignobles connus already in 1832 – as you can read on the back-label of the bottle.
Finally December is here, Advent time has come and all the lovely festivities and celebration times are ahead. This is one of the dearest times of the year for me. We started with celebrations past Friday with my mom’s birthday and we will be cheering up until mid February in between Xmas and birthdays …
There was a fair in honor of St. Andrews in Gorizia (IT) near the border with Slovenia past week-end. Whole Gorizia becomes a place of numerous stands where you can enjoy the famous Piadina, Fritella and buy as much Nougat as your teeth can handle. To top it all there’s also a Luna Park to boost some adrenaline in your veins.
This year though the must-stop-by was because of the Mostra Assaggio Vini event which was held in the immediate center of the city. The organizers re-dressed and abandoned store – Larise – for the occasion. Until Monday eve visitors were able to taste wine of numerous producers coming from nearby borders and enjoy in delicacies like Fonda’s Sea-bass, Rosa di Gorizia radicchio, ham baked in pastry and wild boars goulash with polenta.
There was Kabaj Jean M from Šlovrenc – Goriška Brda with all of his wines, to mention also a new wine – Corpus, made out of grapes from 80 year old vines.
Mavrič prom Plešivo – Goriška Brda with his high extract, dense and varietal wines also quite high in alcohol (see image gallery below).
JNK from Šempas – Vipava Valley and their macerated versions of Rebula, Malvasia, Chardonnay – I managed to taste the Rebula 2007 vintage a well balanced mature wine.
Pipo from Ajdovščina – Vipava Valley with some interesting Sur-Lie matured Zelen wines.
Overall the event was a nice occasion to meet with producers and friends, taste their wine and exchange impressions. Visitors also agreed such events are missing in Gorizia and that organizers should repeat it at least once per month. Well, I agree so if any of the organizers is reading this post I hope we will be seeing again soon.
Let me start this with a toast, a toast to Jean Kabaj, as the occasion calls with his Luisa, vintage 2010. I’ve presented briefly Jean and his Amfora in one of my previous posts and the toast this time is well deserved. Jean made it to the top 100 wineries of the year according to Wine & Spirits magazine! And lucky as I am, I managed to catch him at home right after his return from the tour around US, having the pleasure of exchanging few words with him and his wife Katja.
Chatting with Jean, a French oenologist who years ago moved to Goriška Brda, is always a pleasant experience, decisive, focused, deep and straight forward those are the adjectives that would best describe him … And so are his wines.
I’m toasting with Luisa, 2010 vintage – a blend of Pinot Blanc, Chardonay and Rebula. It is named after his grandmother – Luisa. Earlier this wine was called Luisa Prestige and it was the first wine that introduced me to Jean’s wines. Luckily I still hold one bottle of the 2001 vintage carefully stored as it has great aging potential.
Luisa fermented in large (2.400 liters) oak vats, then it was laid in French oak barriques for 12 months and 4 months in bottles before entering the market. Its color is of a deep golden yellow notes, is dense and crystal clear, literally shining in the glass.
The nose is intense and very fine, with aromas of mature fruit like peaches, apricots, pears, you also sense a citrusy aroma of lemon. A lovely aroma of thyme in the background, but also aromas of vanilla and acacia flower. A very reach bouquet.
On the taste it is dry, hot and soft and on the other side fresh and tasty – confirming its brilliance. A balanced wine of with an intense and elegant taste that has a long finish and a full body.
A harmonious wine that can be easily enjoyed now or left for a couple of years to mature even more.
Jeans wines are available in the US at Blue Danube Wine for ordering on-line but it should also be easy to find them in some of the best wine bars over there. If you find yourself cruising through Goriška Brda make sure to stop at Šlovrenc where you’ll be able to also enjoy in some of their exquisite cuisine – in this period you’ll probably stumble across Jean in front of the oven making some delicious pot-roasts.
And if you’re near Gorizia – It this week-end come to Corso Verdi 65, you’ll be able to taste Kabaj wine.
This post is coming still from under a huge impression of yesterday’s dinner featuring some of Movia’s best wines. It was organized by Mira Šemić and held at restaurant Strelec at Ljubljana’s castle.
And what a dinner it was …
Mira is one of the biggest names of wine in Slovenia, she’s a 3rd level sommelier, WSET degree 3 and currently en route towards Master of Wine certification. She’s hosting a series of wine lectures known as Mira’s little wine school, where she shares her knowledge with the audience, but also organizes a series of exquisite wine events and trips. She is also very active as speaker on various wine events. This time we had the pleasure of tasting some of the best vintages of Movia, carefully stored and matured in her private cellar.
… wines that were complemented to perfection by some of the best dishes I’ve tasted so far. It was for a long time I was waiting to taste some of Igor Jagodic’s food. I’ve been following his work already from times when he was cooking at Vila Bled. Some months ago the news came he was moving to Ljubljana and that he would be hosting at Strelec restaurant, the newest addition to Kaval Group‘s venues, so the anticipation was really big, I’d say comparable to a child’s impatience on Christmas morning …
We greet with the group on the castle’s wall and soon we got the first taste of the symphony to come … Movia’s Puro Rose – 2002, made entirely out of Pinot Noir. A special sparkling wine that doesn’t need presentation for those who know it, but allow me to share it’s story for the rest.
Puro’s life starts with the base, made out of Pinot Noir wine. Late harvested grapes and fermented on own yeasts which Aleš makes out of 5 % of same pre-harvested and fermented grapes – a practice he does for all of his wines. It undergoes a one day maceration process in large tanks, followed by a gentle pressing and then it is laid to develop for four years in barrique barrels on lees, without racking. Then they only add must to the wine and it is left to re-ferment in bottles.
What is special about Puro is that it doesn’t go through the dégorgement process in fact the sediment is left in bottles on purpose as yeasts preserve it giving it a very long life. You find it sold in bottles turned upside down, laid in special cones and the opening process is a bit special, giving it even more charm. I’ll let Aleš himself explain you how it’s done in the video below …
The Puro 2002 shines of an amber color with copper shades in its brilliance. It’s bubbles are fine, abundant and persistent and it is dense. Its nose is intense and very fine. With a very rich bouquet of aromas of rye bread crust, buttery, brioche notes, dried fruit, toasted coffee … It is dry, rather hot and soft on the other side it is fresh and tasty. A well balanced sparkling wine of an intense taste, elegant quality, a long lasting taste and of a full body. Harmonious and mature and with a whole life ahead …
Along with Puro we were greet by the chef with Duck and pistachio confit, duck liver with red cabbage pure drops and egg royale with red wine reduction. An intricate play of flavors and taste with wine and also the sweet wine reduction in the egg royale was spot on.
Entrée time with baked and marinated beetroot, beetroot reduction, honey, matured balsamic vinegar, goat cheese foam and herbs were chef’s choice to complement Rebula 2000.
The Rebula 2000 has a bright, dark amber color and is dense. The nose confirmed that the dark shades are because of the sherrifycation which has started. It has an intense, rather fine and rich nose of over dried fruit like mango and pineapple, hints of honey and varnish, green tea and straw … The taste is dry, rather hot on the other side it is rather fresh and tasty. It is balanced and of an intense taste. It still is elegant and long lasting and has a full body. It is a harmonious wine, but if you have a bottle drink it now as it is already coming to its finish.
The cheese foams softness, sweetness of honey and freshness from the beetroot were making an amazing play of flavors and senses with the Rebula.
For the second course we were served with pan seared pigs tail, pigs cheek ragù, potato purée, pumpkin gnocchi, red wine reduction sauce and grated truffle. An earthy addition to the wine Aleš likes to present as “Flying rocks” – Lunar – 2007.
This Lunar is made of Rebula. Aleš developed specially shaped iron toppings for barrique barrels. Whole grapes are stored in and left to ferment. The wine is unfiltered and bottled straight from the barrel under a full moon. As a result it should be handled with delicacy due to its sediment.
But let’s hear the presentation from Aleš himself and if you want you can also watch here a video about Lunar decantation.
The wine is of a crystal clear golden yellow color and is dense. The aromas are intense and very fine of dried fruit, various jams, spices, licorice, but also a distinct marl mineral note (hence the flying rocks). It is dry, hot and soft. But also fresh and tasty and if you’d serve it in black glasses you’d probably say it could easily be a red wine – you notice also tannins. It is a balanced wine of an intense, long-lasting taste. It is elegant and full bodied. A harmonious mature wine that had no problems coping with the dish. In fact they were elevating each other …
A brief pause and here it was on the plate poached Zlatovščica trout fillet and caviar, potato and garlic purée and chips, with herbs and cucumber foam and herbs oil. A perfect match for the Veliko belo – 2002.
Veliko belo is a blend of Rebula (70 %), Sauvignon (20 %) and Pinot blanc (10 %). At first it fermented in large tanks and then it was laid to mature for 3,5 years in French oak barrels and then laid to rest in bottles. It shines of a golden yellow, crystal clear color and is dense. On the nose it is intense and very fine, with aromas of dried fruit, green tea, thyme, spices and also has a note of baked almonds, a very rich bouquet. It is dry, rather hot and soft on the other side it surprises with freshness and its mineralty. A balanced wine of an intense and elegant taste. Full bodied and wit a long-lasting taste. A harmonious and mature wine which still has a long life ahead.
Ah time for the main dish and this time topped by 2 excellent wines. Owen baked deer loin rolled in bread, with chervil purée, deep-fried chervil root and black walnut – the last a genius topping to Merlot.
The Pinot Noir is shining in a bright, ruby red color and is dense. It has an intense, fine and rich nose of roasted plums, dried fruit, flowery pelargonium note, humus and forest undergrowth notes. It is dry, rather hot and soft, on the other hand fresh, tannic and tasty. A well balanced, elegant, intense, full-bodied wine of a long-lasting aftertaste. Harmonious and mature wine with still life in it.
The Merlot on the other hand is showing a bright, garnet red color and is dense. Intense, fine and rich aromas of black cherry jam, dried raisins, walnut liquor, chocolate, leather … and they just keep coming. A dry, hot and soft wine, still fresh with rounded up tannins and tasty. A balanced, elegant wine of an intense, long-lasting taste and of a full body. A harmonious, mature wine probably at its best shape now. However you should notice that this wine was appearing still playful and younger in another bottle, this is to be attributed to micro oxidation of the cork.
Igor played with flavors and textures on the desert too, literally spoiling us with quince ice cream topped on buckwheat breadcrumbs, panna cotta, dark chocolate and chestnut ganache and chestnut foam.
And, as for the night given, we ended in big with a selection of matured cheeses and Veliko rdeče – 1995.
Veliko rdešč is made with Cabernet sauvignon (70 %), Merlot (20 %) and Pinot Noir (10 %). It matured for 6 years in French oak barrels and then waited in the bottle until coming of age to be opened at this special occasion. It has a deep, ruby red, bright color and is dense. The nose is intense, very fine and very rich with aromas of black cherries jam and other over ripe fruit, chocolate, dried tobacco, leather and it is just developing and opening … Dry, hot and soft, fresh, tannic and tasty. Tannins barely starting to round up, probably to be attributed to Cabernet sauvignon … A balanced, noble wine of an intense, long lasting taste and a robust body. A harmonic wine which still has to reach its maturity.
This was a dinner I surely won’t forget and hope that I was able to share with you at least a bit of the symphony of aromas, flavors and senses we had the pleasure to enjoy. Mira’s presentations were excellent and going in details. I’m thankful that I was able to be a part of this event, tasted some wines that are really rare to find and finally be able to enjoy in culinary delicacies of chef Igor Jagodic … Thank you!
They are currently cultivating approximately 55.000 vines of nine different varieties. All vineyards are oriented on extreme south and mostly of high altitude. The vineyards are planted at an average of 7.000 low growing vines per hectare and on five different micro locations: Stari d’or, Baredi, Raven, Stena and Ronkaldo.
Their philosophy is fully mirrored in their wine and I’m pasting it here as it deserves to be mentioned: “Wine is the child of grapes, which grew up on a certain soil in a certain land, under the influence of a certain climate and culture, cultivated by a caring hand of the person who nourished it.”
I was impressed with the Stari d’or when I first tried it 4 years ago and I knew immediately it had to lay and mature. Named after the micro location Stari d’or it is a blend of Cabernet sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Refošk. It underwent a 35 day maceration in 2.200 liters wooden, cone barrel and then laid in barriques (Slavonic oak) for 24 months – 12 months without decanting on own yeasts, and 12 months in 2200 l wooden, cone barrel. During this period it made also malolactic fermentation.
The wine is unfiltered and it should be handled gently, in fact I used a decanter to separate wine from its sediments.
It has a ruby red color, with some shades of garnet, it is clear and rather dense.
Its aromas are intense and fine. It shines in jam nuances of black cherry, blackcurrant, chocolate, licorice, dried tobacco, a gentle hint of vanilla, gently roasted almonds and they just keep coming. A very rich bouqet.
In the mouth it is dry, hot and soft and to my surprise it still has a strong freshness, and present tannins which just started to soften and you notice also its distinct mineralty. All these factors make it a rather balanced wine. It is an intense, elegant wine with a long finish and a robust body.
The wine is harmonious and it can be enjoyed now but I recommend you store it for a couple of years more for its freshness and tannins to soften up a bit more making it more balanced. I’m lucky to have one bottle left and it will lay for at least five years more.
Now this time I’m writing about an event that deserves the attention of every single one of you out there …
Mark your calendars Saturday 16th at 19:00 for an unforgettable dinner at Strelec restaurant, located at Ljubljana’s castle. You’ll be able to taste some of the best, carefully matured wines from Movia – a wine cellar that doesn’t need introduction.
Starring that night in all their maturity, softness and fully developed tertiary aromas are:
Puro – Rose 2002,
Veliko belo 2002,
Pinot Noir 1997,
Merlot 1994 and
Veliko rdeče 1995.
One of the best chefs from Slovenia – Igor Jagodic, will be indulging us with the following menu:
Roasted and marinated beetroot, beetroot reduction, honey, aged balsamic vinegar, young goat cheese, young goat’s cheese foam and herbs.
Pig tail, pumpkin gnocchi and truffles.
Poached trout fillet, crispy fried trout tartare, potatoes and garlic puree, potato chips and garlic, trout roe and chive oil.
Deer with chervil root and black walnut.
Panna Cota, chestnut and dark chocolate ganache, chestnut, quince ice cream.
Selection of cheese.
The event is hosted by a dear lady of wine – Mira Šemić, who will share extensive details on wine and combination of food with us. Definitely an event you cannot miss.
The dinner with wine included costs 90,00 Eur and the interest is big. You can book your place at this phone number, hurry up: +386 41 672 773
Here I am, writing this post while slowly tasting a glass of Čarga‘s Vinovo – their youngest wine. But let’s take spare some words first on Čarga winery and the Erzetič family proudly standing behind its label.
I had the pleasure of meeting Edbin couple of years ago at a dinner at Vinske kleti Slovenije. Miha, a dear friend, was then organizing dinners where winemakers would come and present their winery, philosophy and secrets. I still remember the dinner, but most of all their Čarvino (sweet wine, made out of dried grapes), so dense we were joking you need a spoon to taste it.
Their approach to wine making is with respect. Every white wine is the result of a maceration and growing in contact with lees, giving it fullness, coherence and a more intense and lasting flavor. Whereas red wine is laid to rest in barrique and large (20 hl) oak barrels. They are also renowned for their sparkling wine – Donna Regina, available in white, rose and red versions, recently also with golden leaves …
I was greet by Martin – Edbin’s son, at my last visit. A brief chat and he was already opening a bottle of Vinovo, a young wine made entirely of Merlot grapes coming from two different vineyards (one from higher grounds, the other lower). It undergoes a 5 day carbonic maceration made famous thanks to Beaujolais Noveau wine, followed by a normal one, resulting in a distinct fruity aromas in wine.
Well my visit to them was because of it. Couple of days ago I saw their image on Facebook and to my knowledge they were among the first putting it on the market – which Martin confirmed.
Vinovo is clear, of a scarlet red color and rather dense.
On the nose is intense, fine and fruity as expected. You sense shades of fresh raspberries, blackberries, currant, in the background hiding shy also an aroma of poppy flower. A rather rich wine aroma.
In the mouth it is dry, rather hot and rather soft on the other side it is fresh, rather tannic and tasty, rather balanced. It is intense, gentle and of a rather long finish and full-bodied.
A harmonious, mature wine ready to be enjoyed now with let’s say roasted chestnuts.
If you will be walking around Ljubljana’s center you can find Čarga’s wine at Vineria Del Ponte, but you can find it also here.
Here are some impressions I took at the visit to the winery
Here’s also a nice animation presenting their lovely estate … Did I mention you have to pass a renovated roman bridge to get there?