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Bob Ramsak
11,381 followers -
I'm a reporter, editor, photographer and blogger with a lust for travel, art, culture and justice. I've visited 54 countries and counting.
I'm a reporter, editor, photographer and blogger with a lust for travel, art, culture and justice. I've visited 54 countries and counting.

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This is the first I’ve tried from Ražman, a small family-run operation working about four hectares of vineyards in the village of Gračišče, 17km southeast of Slovenia’s main port city of Koper.

Like most producers in the Slovenska Istra district, the bulk of their vineyards are planted with Refošk (about 60 percent) and Malvazija (Malvasija, about 30 percent), with the remainder consisting of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Rumeni Muškat (Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains) and another indigenous red, Maločrn (Piccola Nera).

Popetris Red Cuvee, named for a nearby village of Popetre, is a four-grape blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50 percent), Merlot (25 percent), Refošk (20 percent) and Syrah (five percent); it’s the local refosco twist that made it stand out for me.

Aged in oak for 24 months, it’s medium-bodied, with layers of plums and prunes caked in black pepper on the palate, and a cherry strawberry mash-up on the finish. I was expecting it to be a bit longer, but for now, I’ll blame that on the chilly outdoor environment that was my tasting room. You could probably lay it down for another year or two but it’s likely at its peak now.

I’m very happy to have come across this. It’s a well-made cuvee at this price point, with a nice Istrian twist. Check it out. :) https://goo.gl/4N38NR

13% alc
Total production 3,000 bottles
€15 retail

#Wine
#Slovenia
#Istra
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Created with the royal court in mind, Abrau-Durso is still turning out quality and value sparkling wines nearly 150 years later.

#Wine
#Travel
#Russia
#Krasnodar
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Several winemakers from Slovenia have been making significant inroads internationally in recent years, yet wines from this small central European nation, tucked neatly between Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, remain largely unknown to all but the most astute wine observers or curious sipping travelers. A primary mission of Piran Café is to help shed light on some of what’s veiled in that viticultural mystery, one whose tradition goes back more than 2,500 years.

#Wine
#Slovenia
#Travel
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Nestled in the village of Krajna Vas in the Kras (Karst) district, Štoka’s wine-growing tradition dates back nearly 200 years. The family-run winery has about 25 hectares of vineyards located near the western edge of the Kras plateau; of those 32,000 vines, about 70 percent is the Kras staple Refošk (Refosco) which is turned into the district’s fabled Teran. Another 15 percent is Cabernet Sauvignon, five percent Merlot and about five percent Chardonnay. The remaining five percent is divided between Malvazija (Malvasia), Sauvignonasse and Vitovska Grganja. It’s the latter, a relatively rare grape indigenous to Slovenia’s Vipava and Kras districts, that we’re focusing on here.

How rare? In Kras, only about 32 hectares (80 acres) of Vitovska Grganja are grown –that number’s been on the rise in recent years– with Štoka one of the largest family estate producers of the grape in the district.

In the right hands, Vitovska Grganja can reach formidable levels of sublime elegance. But it requires a little extra work in the vineyards; the vines produce large clusters which need to be cut back to keep yield low and grape quality high.

Winemaker Tadej Štoka doesn’t mind that extra effort; the grape is after all an important part of the Kras viticulture tradition, he says, one he, in concert with a local association, is attempting to introduce to wider audiences.

There’s plenty of that elegance in this bottle. Light honey in color, it exudes distinct buttery vanilla aromas, along with ample citrus notes. It’s light to medium in body, with a slightly creamy texture and a pleasant mineral earthiness. If you cross paths with it, don’t pass it up. You’ll instantly gain entry into an exclusive club.

Macerated for five to six days, it was then aged for one year in old oak prior to bottling. About 8,000 bottles of the 2015 Štoka Vitovska Grganja were produced.

#Wine
#Slovenia
#Kras
#Karst
#Vitovska
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It's always nice to be reacquainted with Edi Simčič Duet. :) Predictably solid, for several years now the go-to I recommend to visitors whenever it's on a by-the-glass list to help introduce them to Goriška Brda reds. (And yes, those are vineyard gnomes.)

#Slovenia
#Wine
#GoriskaBrda
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The Slovenian wine country tour continues. :)

Here's a brief intro to the Vipava district, a picturesque valley nestled between the rolling hills of the Kras/Karst plateau to the south and the dramatic ridges of the Trnovska plateau to the north. And in between, some terrific wines. :) Enjoy.

#Wine
#Slovenia

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The most intriguing one here to me is the Bolivian red. I spent a couple months in Bolivia four years ago and was more impressed with the wines than I expected to be. And quality was definitely on an upward swing. Live & learn. :) Would love to find more.

#Wine
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Last Saturday was St. Martin’s Day. I like to say he’s the only saint that matters. Here in Slovenia, he’s a saint that apparently matters a lot.

As Catholic patrons go, St. Martin of Tours does look after a motley, gracious and endearing crew: the world’s winemakers and its poor, soldiers and beggars, tailors and conscientious objectors. November 11, his feast day, is always a big event here in Slovenia, and among Slovenians living abroad. My hunch is that it’s primarily because of the wine connection.

Slovenia produces about 90 million liters of wine annually, and Slovenians drink most of it. Annual per capita consumption is around 43 liters, third in the European Union, trailing just Luxembourg (50l) and Portugal (48l). The EU average? Just under 24 liters. So, yes, Martin stature is prominent here.

Thousands took over city squares in all corners of the country to celebrate on Saturday, the day that Martin turns grape must into wine. The largest gathering took place in Slovenia’s second city (and home to the oldest continually-producing grape vine in the world), Maribor, where an open-air festival was celebrated for the 34th time. Koper, Slovenia’s largest coastal city, also hosted a massive event, held partly in conjunction with the 70th anniversary of Vinakoper, one of the country’s largest wineries. In the western Kras, or Karst district, more than 100 winemakers, a record, took part in events throughout the area. Below, the scene on Leon Štukelj square in Maribor.

The gathering in Ljubljana has become so popular that it was stretched over two consecutive Saturdays this year, with more than 70 wineries manning stands spread over more than five blocks in the capital’s old town center. The lead photo faces north towards the central Prešeren Square.

2017 harvest report

But the news isn’t all rosy – quantity-wise anyway.

This year’s harvest yielded about 91,000 tons of grapes, a drop of 4.5% from last year and 15% below the annual average reported over the past decade.

Erratic –in some cases extreme– weather events were the culprit, with most of Slovenia’s nine districts experiencing frost or drought or both. The Stajerska district, Slovenia’s largest, lost about 10% of its crop. In the western Goriska Brda district, red grapes were hit especially hard, with a drop of 20% from the ten-year average reported. More.

#Slovenia
#Wine
#Wineblog


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One of the best things about exploring wines -besides tasting them, of course!- is discovering local varieties, some so rare that they rarely sprout outside of a single valley. Zelen, and to a lesser extent Pinela, are two such Slovenian grapes, grown only in western Slovenia's Vipavska dolina - Vipava Valley district. Both were largely ignored for much of the second half of the 20th century and all but disappeared from the landscape until they began to make a quiet comeback after independence in the 1990s, thanks mainly to curious winemakers exploring their possibilities.

Here are notes on six wines that I recently tasted -all excellent examples of the varietals- wines that ranged the gamut from young, crisp and fruity to oaked and age-worthy to natural orange-style. If you come across them, check 'em out. You'll be in rare company.

#Wine
#Vipava
#Slovenia
#WineTasting
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