The emperor’s choice

Vipava valley from Guerila’s terrace

It was a lovely week-end in between the 17th and 19th August, the weather was perfect; hot summer days, wind blowing through the hills, orchards, vineyards and villages of Vipava valley … and a bunch of cca. 30 journalists & wine lovers from Holland, Italy, Australia, Great Britain, USA, Croatia, Italy and Slovenia united by their passion, curiosity and a common word “Rebula”.

Six winemakers: Miha Batič (Batič), Primož Lavrenčič (Burja Estate), Valter Mlečnik (Mlečnik), Zmago Petrič (Guerila), Franc Vodopivec (Slavček) and Edvard Svetlik (Svetlik) united for this unique occasion and to showcase its Rebula, a variety chosen based on a document dating to 1503 in which the Roman Emperor Maximilian ordered a shipment of the wine to the court.

Rebula used to be majorly planted here, until the 1980s when fassion demanded to look for more internationally known varieties, now it represents about 10 % of the valley’s 2.240 hectares. Historically looking winemaking has played an important role for the Vipava valley from an economic, territorial, social and cultural aspect.

The winemaking culture has been present in the Vipava valley for more than 2.500 years. Here you will find many indigenous and traditional varieties such as Pinela, Zelen, Klarnica, Pergolin, Poljšakica and Rebula which is why winegrowing and winemaking represents a unique heritage for its inhabitants. It is of no surprise that Matija Vrtovec, a local priest, wrote the first Sovenian book about winemaking called: “Vinoreja” back in 1844.

Friday evening took us on a culinary journey, our hosts Gregor and his team of the Theodosius inn delighted us with traditional dishes, all prepared with local ingredients. The setting – a developing forest village named Theodosius above the village of Vrhpolje.

“Rebula, a variety of many shades and aromas”

Lectures, Foto: Tina Velikonja

Saturday was all about getting deep into Rebula, lectures hosted by dr. Dejan Bavčer, Primož Lavrenčič, Matjaž Lemut, dr. Borut Koloini, Mojca Mavrič Štrukelj and Edvard Svetlik showcased the uniqueness of the variety. A variety that is distinguished by its thick, golden skin and which tends to give best results in wines marked by a longer skin contact. This was later clear also at the master class.

Traditional lunch (pearled barley and sausage) was served at Vipavski Križ’s Capuchin monastery and this was quite an experience. Vipavski Križ is a lovely, picturesque village and an ideal location for a short trip as it is easily accessible from the highway. There’s an Inn there but there’s many of culinary destinations around.

The master class was hosted by Slovenia’s first Wineakademiker – Mira Šemić and Slovenia’s best sommelier Martin Gruzovin. A total of 25 different wines were tasted and it gave a deep insight into Vipava valley’s terroir. Here’s just a short sum-up trying to show you the distinct aspects of the wines. Without a doubt all of these wines deserve a deeper insight.

Master class: Mira Šemić, Martin Gruzovin / Foto: Tina Velikonja

Ferjančič – Rebula, 2017

Strawy yellow colour, rather dense. Nuances of fresh fruit, green apple, citruses, lemon flower and a hint of hazelnuts. A nice example of a fresh, tasty and intense rebula, harmonious and ready to be enjoyed now.

Batič – Rebula, 2017

Strawy yellow with green nuances. A fresh, fruity and herbal rebula with a distinct mineral taste. Also this wine is ready to be enjoyed now.

Slavček – Rebula klasika, 2012

Strawy yellow colour with hints of gold, dense. On the nose dried fruits, straw, almonds, linen varnish. The palate is soft, dry, fresh and tasty. Full-bodied and rather balanced, of a long and elegant finish. A mature and harmonious wine.

Guerila – Rebula extreme, 2015

Of a deep, golden yellow colour. Hints of dried and ripe fruit, apricot, agrumi, also honey and spices, a rich bouquet. Dry, soft, tasty and fresh, but all in balance. An elegant, intense and full bodied wine with a long aftertaste.

Svetlik – Rebula Svetlik, 2011

Golden yellow colour with hints of amber, dense. Nose is intense, ripe fruit, spices, buttery notes, caramel, vanilla, pepper, dried agrumi skin, dried tobacco. Dry, rather soft, fresh and tasty. An intense, elegant, robust wine with a long aftertaste. Mature and harmonious.

USSAI – Rebula, 2012

A dense, golden colour in the glass. Rather intense aromas of ripe and dried fruits, showing hints of white pepper, liquorice, vanilla, butter, like an apple tart, rich. Dry and rather soft with the harder part prevailing. An elegant and full-bodied wine of a long aftertaste.

Berce – Rebula, 2016

Golden yellow colour, dense. A rich bouquet showing hints of ripe fruit, resin, dried herbs, spices, marmalade. Dry, fresh and tasty, intense, elegant, full-bodied and persistent wine.

Wine Estate Lavrenčič – Rebula classic, 2016

Dense, golden yellow colour with amber shades. Intense, dried fruit and herbs, flowers, spices, locust flour. Dry and soft, fresh and tasty, balanced, full-bodied, intense, persistent and elegant. ready to be enjoyed now and harmonious.

Zgonik – Rebula, 2015

Golden yellow and rather dense. Rather intense, fine aromas of spices, herbs, dried fruit and white tea. Dry, fresh and tasty, rather balanced, intense, elegant, full-bodied and persistent.

Bizjak – Rumena Rebula, 2015

Dense, deep, golden yellow colour. Intense and fine aromas of dried fruit, sable, vanilla, locust flour, dried orange skin, roasted nuts, lemon flowers. Dry, soft, fresh and tasty, balanced. Intense, elegant, full-bodied and persistent.

Slavček – Rebula Reserva 2013

Deep golden colour with amber notes, dense. The nose is intense, fine and striking with aromas of, agrumi, spices, aromatic herbs, honey, pollen, vanilla, caramel, baked apple. Dry, rather soft, tasty and tannic. A full-bodied, persistent and mature wine.

UOU – Rebula Ivanka, 2016

Deep, dense, amber colour. Intense aromas of caramelized apple, vanilla, white pepper, spices, aromatic herbs. Dry, soft, tasty and rather fresh, balanced, full-bodied and elegant wine. Mature and harmonious.

Svetlik – Rebula selekcija, 2012

Dense, of a deep, amber colour. The nose is a bit shy at the beginning, but then it opens to notes of roasted nuts, marmalade, dried apples, vanilla, dried figs, locust flour, dried tobacco. Dry, rather soft, rather fresh, tasty and tannic with its harder part prevailing. A robust, elegant, intense and very persistent wine. Mature and harmonious.

JNK – Rebula, 2009

Deep, dense, golden colour with amber nuances. The nose is intense, dry fruit, spices, aromatic herbs. Dry, rather soft, fresh and tasty, rather balanced with its harder part prevailing. An intense, robust, persistent and mature wine.

Mlečnik – Rebula, 2009

Dense, deep, amber colour. Intense and fine nose of dried fruit, marmalade, spices, aromatic herbs … Dry, soft, fresh and tasty, a balanced wine of a fine, elegant, robust and persistent taste. Mature and harmonious.

Štokelj – Planta white, 2017

A blend of 60 % Chardonnay, 20 % Rebula, 20 % Pinela. Strawy yellow, rather dense. Intense and fine aromas of mature fruit, spices, flowers and vanilla. Dry, soft rather hot, fresh and tasty, a balanced, intense, full-bodied and elegant wine. Harmonious and ready to be enjoyed now.

Krapež – Lapor white, 2014

40 % Chardonnay, 30 % Rebula, 30 % Pinela. Strawy yellow, rather dense. Intense and fine aromas of mature fruit, agrumi, peach, lemon flower, linen varnish, spices. Dry, rather soft, fresh and tasty, with its harder part prevailing. An elegant, persistent full-bodied harmonious wine.

Pasji rep – Pasji rep white, 2016

A blend of 50 % Rebula, 40 % Zelen, 10 % Welschriesling. A golden colour and dense. The nose is intense, ripe fruit prevails over spices and white flowers, a bit of toasted nuts. Dry, fresh, tasty. An elegant, persistent and harmonious wine.

Burja – Burja white, 2017

40 % Malvasia Istriana, 30 % Rebula, 20 % Welschriesling, 10 % other white varieties. Strawy yellow, rather dense. Intense and fine aromas of mature fruit, agrumi, aromatic herbs, spices, vanilla. Dry and soft, tasty and fresh, a balanced, full-bodied wine of an intense and persistent taste.

Guerila – Retro, 2016

A blend of Rebula, Zelen, Pinela and Malvasia Istriana. Strawy yellow with golden nuances, rather dense. Intense and fine aromas of ripe fruit, agrumi, white tea, spices, dried flowers, chamomile, aromatic herbs and honey. Dry, soft, fresh and tasty, a balanced, intense and full-bodied wine of an elegant and long taste.

Burja – Stranice, 2015

50 % Malvasia Istriana, 20 % Welschriesling, 20 % Rebula and 10 % other white varieties. Strawy yellow with golden nuances, unfiltered and dense. Intense, rich and complex aromas, acacia flowers, rosemary and thyme, grapefruit, orange peel, ripe pear, pineapple, kiwi, papaya, melon, passion fruit, buttery, toasted nuts. Soft, dry, fresh and tasty, a balanced wine with a long aftertaste, full bodied and elegant, with mineral and flinty notes in retrospection.

Jamšek – Prepih, 2015

60 % Rebula, 20 % Zelen, 20 % Pinela. Strawy yellow colour with golden nuances, dense. Intense and fine aromas of tea, chamomile, aromatic herbs, spices, resin, cloves, ripe fruit and dried orange peel, a rich bouquet. Dry, soft, fresh and tasty, rather balanced, intense and elegant. A full bodied wine with a long taste.

Sutor – White, 2013

70 % Malvasia Istriana, 30 % Rebula. Golden yellow colour, dense. Rather intense and fine aromas of dried fruit, straw, dried linden flower. Dry, soft, fresh and tasty and rather balanced. Intense, fine and rather persistent.

Batič – Angel white, 2011

A 40 % Pinela, 20 % Chardonnay, 20 % Malvasia Istriana, 10 % Rebula, 7 % Welschriesling, 2 % Zelen, 1 % Vitovska blend. Deep, golden yellow colour, dense. Intense and fine aromas of ripe fruit, aromatic herbs, spices, vanilla, honey, pepper, rich. Dry and soft, fresh and tasty, balanced. A robust and elegant wine, of a lasting aftertaste.

Mlečnik – Ana cuvée, 2011

A 45 % Chardonnay, 40 % Rebula, 15 % Malvasia Istriana and Sauvignonasse blend. Deep amber colour, quite limpid and dense. Intense and fine aromas of dried fruit, apples, raisins, coffee, spices, vanilla, carob flour, coffee, caramel. Dry, rather soft, fresh and tasty, rather balanced with the harder part prevailing. Intense, robust and elegant, with a long aftertaste.

Master class / Foto: Tina Velikonja

An impressive selection of wines where rebula plays the main or supporting role. If I was in the position to suggest something for the future, it would be great to see some more fresher types of wines, only to get a better insight into what Rebula is and what it can bring as a result of different vinification processes.

Vipava valley winemkers and journalists / Foto: Tina Velikonja

And these were not all the wines we could taste that day. The happening in Vipavski križ was moving towards its end. Winemakers were joined by other colleagues from Vipava valley and we had a uniqe oportunity to taste also other wines form the valley of the famous Burja wind.

Both, wine and gastronomy are important for the region and we enjoyed eqsquisite dishes from Ošterija Žogica, Majerija, Grad Kromberk restaurant and Šempas local community. Besides this there were also other local producers presenting their coulinary delicacies; Peloz with its dried meets, Ekolat’s mozzarella produced entirely from local milk, olive oil from Kante farm, spreads by Ma q fino and Leone‘s lemon sorbet.

As for Saturday, it was far from how the famous line “Easy like the Sunday morning … ” go. All of the six initiators have invited journalists to visit their vineyards and cellars for a real intimate touch with their philosophy.

Wine and varieties know no borders, they speak the same language

Wine and gastronomy pay an important cultural role, they should be recognized as the most important pillars also in regional policies and touristical development projects. And this is something we could hear a lot during these days. All winemakers, especially the six initiators, were speaking the common language of understanding and the importance of the winemaking tradition for Slovenia’s and Primorska’s visibility abroad.

I’m happy to see that also Vipava valley’s winemakers recognized the importance of a common language and what stepping together can bring and I hope this will proove to be the start of a traditional story that will attract new customers and tourists to Vipava valley, the Primorska region and Slovenia in general. After all, looking from a certain point of view, varieties cannot be owned, they are a part of our tradition and as such are a representation of what a nation and its effort can nurture. It is by stepping together that cultures formed and survived and with this in mind we should continue building bridges and helping each other onward.

Vipava valley, an enogastronomic reality

It is with pleasure we read these days how Vipava Valley has been listed among the best destinations in Europe, but it is with events like this and with the support of local and national autorities that Vipava valley and the whole region will benefit.

Here’s a list of all of winemakers present: Batič, Burja, Guerila, Mlečnik, Slavček, Svetlik, Ferjančič, USSAI, Posestvo Berce, JNK, Wine Estate Lavrenčič, Vina Zgonik, Kmetija Bizjak, UOU, Štokelj, Vina Krapež, Pasji rep, Jamšek 1887 Vina, Sutor Wine Estate, Vina Saksida, WIPACH, Vina Poljšak

Wine makers

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