Hello wine lovers!
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.
Hello wine lovers!
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!
Hello wine lovers! Well here we are again and this time I’ve got an interesting story, a story of passion & love. It all began a few months ago when a gentleman by the name Nicholas Gee contacted me if I could write about his wine. I didn’t think twice so we met in Ljubljana. OK … where’s the passion so far? Well as curious as I am I wanted to know as much as I could about his philosophy, winemaking, his views etc. And quite a chat we had!
Nicholas is from New Zealand, yes you read right, New Zealand! After graduating his thirst for knowledge led him across the World. He worked in 14 wineries in 6 different countries (New Zealand, Australia, Germany, France, USA and Slovenia). Combining his knowledge, experience and what he learned working with different winemakers has helped him to fully shape his own winemaking philosophy. He avidly believes that wine is made in the vineyard than it is the winemaker’s duty to express it as best as possible in the wine.
OK so we covered passion and one part of the love side, but why a guy from NZ is in Slovenia? When I asked him this question he smiled and said that he never would have imagined to end in Slovenia, but then again you never know who you’re gonna fall in love with. On a trip to Paris, France he met Marija and then in the city of love magic happened. They got in love, Nicholas moved to Slovenia and now they’re expecting their first baby. Now ain’t that a fairytale?
I’m telling you this because all of this is perceived in his wines. You can find them under the label Heaps Good Wine. If you find the name strange, well Heaps Good means that something is really good and so far I’m impressed. They produce 3 wines Sivi Pinot (Pinot Gris), Modra Frankinja (Blaufränkisch) and Modri Pinot (Pinot Noir). This time I’ll be writing about his Modra Frankinja, 2010 vintage.
The maceration took 21 days, 10 of it were at a controlled temperature of 8˚C. Then after the pressing it laid in French barrels (one 1 year old and one 2 year old). The wine endured a natural malolactic fermentation and after its completion it was racked off lees to a tank, sulphured and then returned to barrels. It was bottled in September 2011.
The wine is of a crystal garnety red color and has slightly purple borders. Of a quite dense consistency.
On the nose it is quite intense. At first I’m hit by a peppery note mixed with a note of cloves. Then it starts opening into notes of mature red fruit like cherries, blackcurrants jam, a hint of dried flowers, wood and a buttery note. A wine of complex and fine aromas.
A sip to wash the mouth and then another to fully taste it … Dry, warm and quite soft. Fresh, quite tannic and tasty. Quite balanced but its roughness prevails a bit (acids). A wine of a good, fine structure, intense with a quite persistent finish. Of a fine taste.
The wine is mature but this does not mean it has come to its end, quite the opposite I’d like to taste it again in 2 years. Its looks, aromas and taste make it a harmonious wine.
Here’s a list where you can find Heaps Good Wine’s wine. I’m sure it won’t be difficult to spot their distinct label, which really stands out. Try it and share your thoughts with me. I’ll be glad to read them and I’m sure Nicholas will be too.
Until the next post – Cheers my friends!
Some time ago I’ve stumbled across an article about Tilen Praportnik’s (SteraS) new wine. As curious as a winelover can be I couldn’t help myself but call Tilen for a bottle. This weekend I got the package but didn’t manage yet to afford a sip …
What gotten me to strive for this wine is Tilen’s passion in keeping and reviving old and forgotten Istrian wine varieties. In this wine he included some like:
- Beli refošk (White Refosco)
- Istrska belina
- Bela borgonja
- Dolski muškat
- Momjanski muškat and
Now tell me, except for Malvazija have you heard of any of them? I’m telling you I can’t wait tasting it and of course I’ll share my tasting notes with you.
For those of you interesting in what the article says I’m including a translation. The article was written by Sašo Dravinec and published in Primorske novice.
”Tilen Praprotnik has planted under Šared a lot of old already forgotten Istrian autochthonous varieties. Zlati cvet, a representant of his fresh line is a blend of pinjola, karniola, beli refošk, istrska belina, bela borgonja, izolanka, tržačanka, dolski muškat, momjanski muškat and malvazija. All varieties are equally represented in this wine. Zlati cvet, the name is taken from a Slovenian legend of a flourishing fern, is of a strawy yellow color with golden nuances. Gentle on the nose the aroma of pear outstands and is supplemented by a grown apples and floral and citrusy note. This perceptions are then repeated in the mouth. The wine is fresh with a long and fruity end. It is a pleasant, lightly drinking wine. Oenologically a contemporary wine wit an unmistakable archaical touch. The contact with this wine is an amazing learning hour of ransacking through roots.”
Here’s the scan of the article:
It has been archeologically proven that Georgia is the cradle of winemaking. The tradition dates to around 9.000 BC when people discovered that grape juice was turning into wine when left buried in shallow pits through the winter. Georgians nourished this discovery and started making wine in large clay vessels named “kvevri”.
In Slovenia a dear friend of mine – Jean is reviving this tradition and producing wine like the antique Georgians did. Yesterday I spent a wonderful day at Kabaj estate and today I found this video about the making of Amfora. I’m still under a strong impression after yesterdays tasting and can assure you that wine done in this way is special. If you close your eyes and taste it, it will feel as tasting a full bodied red wine. A detailed description of Amfora is on the way, but for now enjoy this truly educational video.
You can find more about winemaking using this method on Xeloba Kartuli’s website.