Slovenian Wine More Familiar Than It Seems
While most celebrated for sweet wines that rival those of the Burgenland of Austria, Slovenia is also producing dry, Italian-inspired whites and reds in its western regions. You may not recognize the varieties Pinela or Refošk. However, they’re not as far out there as they sound. Each grape is closely related to a respective Italian sibling located just around the corner. And wineries Guerila and Rojac produce in traditional methods that date back generations around the Adriatic Sea.
We’re slowly expanding your borders, but I think you’ll find yourself in familiar territory.
Wine: Guerila 2015 ($23)
Place: Vipavska Dolina, Slovenia
Pinela is a white grape possibly of Slovene origins. DNA profiling has not yet confirmed whether it’s the same variety of Friulian Pinella. Now it is almost exclusively found in Colli Euganei in the hills south of Padova. There are limited plantings in Vipavska Dolina, Slovenia.
Guerila is a biodynamic producer in the Vipavska Valley, east of the Italian city of Monfalcone. Grapes are hand-harvested. Spontaneous fermentation with native, indigenous yeasts. Wine is aged 9 months in stainless steel. Bottled with minimal SO2 added.
Wine: Rojac 2013 ($18)
Place: Slovenska Istra, Slovenia
Located on a peninsula, between the Gulf of Trieste and Croatia. Across the Adriatic Sea from Venice. Sandy soil at an altitude of 200-250m. Vines planted in 2000. Spontaneous fermentation with natural yeasts. Maceration lasts 10-15 days. Aged in oak. Hills of Gazon (local village) produce elegant, acidic wines: a result of poor soils, altitude, and proximity to the sea.
After Bruno Rojac suddenly passed away, his son Uros took full command of the vineyard. He’s continuing in his father’s footsteps, paying close attention to detail in the vineyards and cellar. Despite being one of the region’s youngest winemakers, he’s producing some of the best refosk Slovenia has to offer.
Refosk, or Refosco d’Istria, is one of six varieties from the Refoschi family of grapes, which find their home around the Adriatic Sea. Wines are deeply colored, medium bodied, and usually high in acid.