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21 May 2010

Eastern Slovenia: "taking on New Zealand"

Yet another catchy-titled tutored tasting from the London Wine Fair (May 2010), this time by Caroline Gilby MW who's an authority on Eastern European wines (as well as being rather good at running marathons for charity). This one featured wines from eastern Slovenia, which threw up several lively and/or unusual aromatic white wines. Slovenia has perhaps grabbed a bit of attention for certain intense styles of "macerated" and "natural-winemaking" whites sourced from those elevated vineyards in the west, which border the Trieste area of northwest Italy and trendy wine regions such as Collio. The climate there is very different to the east, with milder sea-influenced weather; the east has a much more continental climate, influenced by the Austrian Alps to the west and north and the landmass of Hungary to the east bringing hot summers and very cold winters. However, I did try a couple of wines from western Slovenia afterwards along with a few more Rieslings - Renski or Rhine or "true" Riesling as opposed to Laški Rizling (although there are now some good wines being made from this variety too: I won't go on about Lutomer or whatever it was/is here!) - coming mostly from the east. Because: 1. it seems promising and 2. well, if you've read anything on this site before, you'll know I'm slightly Riesling addictive....

Colour code: Producer wine/place name grape variety

Bajnof Žametna Penina sparkling rosé NV (made from Cviček base wine, which is a blend of red and white grapes: Žametna črninaModra Frankinja (=Blaufränkisch), Kraljevina and Laški Rizling (=Welschriesling or Riesling Italico))
Cherry colour, quite perfumed with morello cherry, other red fruits and violets; lightly toasted almond and fruit cake notes, very lively acidity vs a touch of sweetness and roundness. Interesting and attractive fizz, not to everyone's taste though! Žametna means "velvety," by the way.
2007 Joannes Protner Riesling (12.5% alc.) - lightly peachy vs mineral, oily and "chalky" tones; quite pure fruit turning oily vs steely edges and crisp acidity, very dry appley finish; quite elegant and long too. 87
2008 Joannes Protner Riesling - a bit reductive and awkward on the nose; rounder palate (has about 6g/l residual sugar) vs again showing nice pure Riesling style with "chalky" texture vs lime fruit, very crisp yet off-dry finish. 87+
2006 Joannes Protner Riesling - attractive oily developing nose; dried raisin-y flavours vs very crisp and intense mineral profile, maturing "petrol-y" fruit finish. 88+
2009 Marof Bodonci Laški Rizling (13.5%) - gummy zingy and aromatic with gooseberry, floral and subtle lees notes; nice lively zesty palate in that modern winemaking style, crisp and juicy with "chalky" mineral vs more rounded and weighty finish.85+

2009 Marof Renski Rizling (11.5%, 21 g/l residual sugar) - floral, citrus and gummy aromas; medium-dry style showing sweeter side vs crisp and mineral finish. 80+
2008 Valcl Šipon (= Furmint) - complex nose with greengage / kiwi vs richer honeyed and oily notes; perfumed in the mouth vs creamy buttery and hazelnut, refreshing "cut" and quite concentrated too; very unusual with attractive fresh vs textured finish. 89+
2009 Vino Valdhuber Sauvignon Blanc (12.5%) - quite restrained citrus and gooseberry style showing juicy lees-y edges and fresh bite; more Loire than NZ perhaps with nice crisp pure finish. 85+
2008 Vino Kupljen Sirius Chardonnay Jeruzalem-Svetinje (12.5%) - enticing yet subtle peachy notes with light spicy oak vs underlying vibrant citrus fruit; well-balanced mix of all those flavours/textures carries through, well made with again that underlining crisp bite vs rounded buttery and coconut edges. 87

2009 Kupljen Renski Rizling (12.5%) - restrained tight style with attractive crisp limey fruit; juicy lees vs mineral texture with steely dry finish, good extract and purity with fair class too. 87+
2008 Kupljen Renski Rizling - oilier maturing nose with lightly "burnt" notes; quite lush texture actually with nice developing fruit vs citrus bite and steely mineral length. 88
2008 Kupljen Classic Renski Rizling (residual sugar and acidity are the same at about 6-7g/l and 12% alc.) - more exotic with pineapple notes vs limey and zingy; crisp and fresh mouth-feel vs rounded and off-dry, attractive style. 85+
2007 Kupljen "sweet Auslese" Renski Rizling (9.5%) - honeyed and exotic with lightly spicy notes; lush mouthful of rich raisin fruit vs racy acidity cutting through it, closes up on the finish. Needs 5-10 years to develop. 90
2008 Steyer Gewurztraminer (Alsace and Austrian clones apparently, 13%) - full-on lychee nose with pure clean and expressive floral / rose water tones; juicy and off-dry with a hint of sweetness vs refreshing acidity, very attractive style. 85+

2008 Steyer Renski Rizling - lightly peachy and floral fruit vs "phenolic/chalky" zesty texture; tight zingy and crisp length with lime flavours. Needs a couple of years to open up. 87
2007 Marjan Simčič Sauvignon Blanc - more golden in colour than any of the above dry wines, rich yeast-lees vs aromatic green fruit; quite fat and creamy with subtle toasted texture vs a bit of oomph and bite. Different for sure, not for all but good though. 87+Distributors for Simčič wines: H&H Bancroft Wines in London; US: Trilussa Wine Company CA and Dark Stars imports NYC.

Photos by (top) Joco Znidarsic copied from matkurja.com/projects/wine, where you'll find lots of fascinating generic info on Slovenian wine, and (bottom) vino-kupljen.com.

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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.