Let’s head back to Bela krajina, to the Šuklje family to taste their flagship wine. The barrel-aged, single-vineyard Blaufränkisch is coming from one of their steepest terrains.
Vrbanjka is the steepest plot of their Plešivica vineyard. Vines there count for 18 years and are planted in a distinctive mix of poor soil consisting of a mixture of stone and marl, with a high proportion of limestone. The climate of Bela krajina is distinguished, as it is primarily Subpanonian, continental with Mediterranean influences, coming from the Croatian coast.
This results in small bunches and low yields but adding another layer of complexity to the wine with higher extraction.
Grapes of this Blaufränkisch were hand-harvested at September’s end in 15 kg crates. Following destemming, whole berries fermented in open vats for 25 days at temperature control. After gentle pressing, the young wine was decanted in stainless steel with fine lees to conduct malolactic fermentation and decanted in used French oak barriques and 500-litre barrels for 12 months. It was then bottled without filtration to finally come to the market after a reasonable time of bottle-ageing.
The result is a wine with deep, ruby red colour and a slightly purple tip, showing dense texture.
The bouquet is intense, of ripe cherries, mulberries, blackberries. We also notice nits of black pepper and ripe fern and dried forest leaves, carob, cloves and gentle vanilla, buttery note.
A dry Blaufränkish with pronounced softness and well-incorporated alcohol. Refreshing, with tasty minerality and firm tannins. A wine of an intense and elegant taste that expresses its robust character and complexity. Notes of berries, fern and hummus are also represented on the palate. Full-bodied with a medium to long-lasting taste.
You can drink it now or easily store Vrbanjka for the next seven years as it boasts the structure, freshness and tanning to keep it in shape and improve. A bottle will cost you 16 Eur at their online store, but you can get it also at Koželj, Deliz, Vina Posavja and over at my dear friends at Gostilna Repovž.