WALKING BEFORE CRAWLING
By global standard, Slovenia is the newly born child amongst independent nations. It was known as the country other countries pushed around. For centuries Italy was their Boss Slovenia won the marathon to plant the first producing grapevine in history on their land, thanks to the Celts. Americans will make a national day of ANYTHING, however, Slovenia is the only country in the world where a “Day of Culture” IS a national holiday. It’s historical significance to winemaking was critical to becoming a European Union member in the 1990s, in order to be officially initiated into the global wine market of premium wines. Since its inception, the refinement of winemaking has improved exponentially.
THE EDEN OF SLOVENIA
Cherished Slovene poet Ciril Zlobec christened the Vipava Valley as the country’s paradise. The historical winemaking magnitude can clearly be seen by Roman influence who planted their grapevines, only to make wines from the indigenous grapes of the region. This marvelous corner of the world seems to have been created especially for vines with three climate zones in one; alpine, continental, and Mediterranean! Grapes are at home here, planted on steep terraces surrounded by cherry and peach trees along with miles of olive groves.
Gone are the Roman chariots that paved the roads, now there is a freeway linked from Italy and runs through the heart of the valley. It’s free of massive tourism and beckons those who seek a genuine insight into the farms and wineries of the region. Officially today, it received a quality wine designation appropriately referred to as Dornberk AOC Vipavska Dolina, which you most often see on wine labels. Wine is serious business here with over 20 wine routes, nestle in between medieval castles, manors, and churches. Look beyond the producers that glutton the public attention and be astounded by the smaller producers such as the Slavcek Family Winery.
There are records of the farm as far back as the year 1769 at that time the house was named the Slavčevih (Nightingale), as testified by the church records. Many families had the same last name so why complicate the issue, the townspeople just named the houses after different birds to identify which family. I concur America should adopt a similar system, like designing our own emoji.
Franc Vodopivec owner and winemaker runs this family winery which has existed for over two centuries. He runs an agroturistic bed and breakfast with his wife and son. The winery and inn only serve products from what has only been cultivated by their own hand and this tradition has never been lost.
SLAVCEK SIVI PINOT 2018
The country is not bullied anymore as it stands firm on what its strengths are. With over 75% focus on white wine production, it boastfully enjoys the convenience of their native grapes available to them; most noble is Zelen and Klarina. The Romans agreed with the land’s potential and spread the love with their native white grapes. And yes for all of you who can’t leave the mother’s nipple, they do produce wines of the usual suspects; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc….yeah, yeah yeah. However, Pinot Grigio is the order of the day.
Sivi Pinot ( aka Pinot Grigio) is the native name in these parts and this wine excites on so many levels. The wine is technically board line considered orange wine because of the 24hrs of skin contact; for rich taste and depth of color. Traditionally wines are made this way and that’s the way Vodopivec likes it, preserving ancient winemaking practices. All the grapes are grown biodynamically, organic, and hand-harvested. Wild yeasts impregnate the fermentation and Malocatic is allowed to occur naturally giving the wine texture of silk. The wines are left on the dead yeast for 3 months adding another layer of brioche body complexity. Here’s the real clinch, the wine is aged 50% stainless tank for the purity of fruit and 50% locally made acacia used oak barrels to fill in any gaps as if the wine needed any more polish for the long finish. For your eyes only, it minimally filtered for an attractive appearance. Calling all you Vegans, it’s also approved to wet your finicky whistle, no animals were harmed or added to produce this outstanding wine. There is a movement to create a category for these styles of wines termed “Native and Natural”.
I wanted to put aside the formal specs, as this wine deserved a closer look at the juice within the bottle and the hands that created it. Slovenia’s objective is to raise the quality and to have the wines they produce speak for themselves. They are wines everyone should be drinking; distinguished flavors and value, obscure, soundly made, and erupting with rare qualities.
“Today’s task is to raise the quality of growth, to better express terroir, tradition and the essence of our family cultural values through the winemaking techniques of our forefathers.”
– Franc Vodopivec
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