Tonight we’re moving to Dolenjska. A region sometimes neglected, but with some amazing, breathtaking views and honestly expressive terroirs, especially for sparkling wine. One of the brightest examples is Domaine Slapšak, producing some world-class renditions of sparklers like this Brut Reserve black label.
Black label is actually a stint of the regular Brut reserve representing their commercially most successful and attractive wine. But the real difference lies in the ageing on the cork. The basis is the same, a blend of vintages 15 and 16 that was bottled in 2017, disgorged in 2019 and left to age for respectively fifteen or twenty-four months on cork – and this is what does the trick!
A cuvée of 30 % Pinot Noir, 30 % Chardonnay and 40 % Žametna Črnina, this is something. François Botton, an oenologist native to Reims, moved to Slovenia when meeting the love of his life and decided to lay roots here. Thanks to him, Dolenjska is amidst a renaissance of sparkling wine production, as he advocated his belief in the terroir and showed what can be produced here to local winemakers.
All reserve wines are aged separately in stainless vats, and malolactic conversion is fully executed for this wine. Base wine matures in stainless vats on gross lees and is then assembled without filtration before preparation for secondary fermentation.
I’ve had the pleasure of tasting base wines. Boy, what expression they are showing already! A lot is to be contributed to Žametna Črnina, the same variety of the oldest vine in the world, counting for more than 400 years that still make fruit regularly in Maribor. François believes in it as it can give the right amount of acidity when fully ripe, and this is what every sparkling winemaker is striving for.
This Brut reserve displays brilliant golden yellow colour, with numerous and tiny bubbles.
Its bouquet is intense mature; we perceive dry pineapple, candied lemon zest, meringue, butteriness, roasted hazelnuts with just a touch of caramel, sea salt, rye bread crust, and a delicate touch of saffron.
It only has two grams of dosage, which is brut nature. However, we detect softness. Above all, freshness and minerality stand out, leaving a touch of umami. It has a full-bodied structure and a noble taste with long persistence in which we perceive candied fruit, and most of all, an attractive flavour of roasted almonds.