Slovenia: Perfect Destination for Wine Lovers
Slovenia has always had excellent conditions for winemaking and is continuously producing some of the world’s best wine. Surprisingly though, little is known about our wine outside the narrow circle of connoisseurs. As organized tastings and specialized bars are starting to pop up over Ljubljana all that is now beginning to change and our country is becoming a wine destination in its own right. Here are some of the main reasons why Slovenia is the perfect place for all wine lovers.
For one, it has the same latitude as Napa Valley of California and Bordeaux of France, which are two of the world’s most famous winegrowing regions. The reason for them being so successful is that places with this particular latitude have some of the best climates for vine growth and are therefore the most suitable for the production of wine. As such, Slovenian wineries have immense potential and are equally great as any winery based in Bordeaux or Napa. Better yet, most of the grapes in Slovenia are still handpicked which, in contrast to larger winegrowing regions, results in very rare and boutique wines.
A proof of this is that Slovenian wineries are continuously achieving prizes at prestigious competitions such as the AWC Vienna evaluation and the Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA), the largest and most influential international wine competition in the world. Several wines such as Marjan Simčič Leonardo 2009 and Movia Lunar 9 2013 have received excellent reviews from notable critics such as Steven Spurrier and James Suckling. Suckling described Lunar as being “Incredibly dense and layered with so much richness and beauty.” giving it an outstanding 97 points. He was particularly impressed by our coastal winegrowing region with its biodynamically grown grapes.
And that’s only one out of three diverse regions that comprise Slovenia. Each has its unique terroir and the varying conditions have a tremendous influence on vine growth. That makes for some very different wines. The three regions are home to 7 excellent native wine varieties, which admittedly is not much compared to larger countries, but is still a lot to be concentrated on such a small area. Especially since these varieties include some highly drinkable ones, such as Zelen and Pinela, both giving mind blowing white summer wines that make the perfect refreshment when you’re here on a summer break.
One of the red native varieties called “Žametna črnina” (meaning Black Velvet) or as the Germans like to call it Blauer Kölner, is also the variety of the world’s oldest surviving vine. It’s over 300 years old and grows in Slovenia’s second largest town Maribor, located in the inland north eastern region of the country. The vine is still used to make wine, which is bottled in a very limited series of only a hundred of 250 ml bottles each year. This makes for a valuable protocol gift and one is considered very lucky to get his or her hands on one of these.
And you can. With specialized bars and tastings opening across Ljubljana all the wonderful wines are coming together in one place for you to enjoy. The City of Vine and Wine is already home to a number of wine bars and wineries serving and selling some of the best local and foreign wines. One excellent activity for anyone who’s interested in Slovenian wine is the recently launched Wine Tasting Ljubljana (winetastingljubljana.com). There you are able to try a selection of the finest local wines in the company of a wine expert, giving you insights into Slovenia’s winemaking tradition as well as practical knowledge about the proper wine tasting technique.
As you can see there really is no reason why Slovenian wines should be so horribly overlooked. Perhaps the real reason that they sometimes are lies in the fact that we like to keep them to ourselves. With only a little over 20% of them being exported and the rest being drunk at home, very little of our wine ever makes its way across the border. Rest assured we have a good reason for keeping it here and you are all welcome to test our claim.