The Slovenia Times

Wine Heroes of New Europe


One of main objectives of 2019 Grand VINART Tasting, taking place 1 - 2nd of March, is to present the potential, variety and quality of wines from New Europe. In the wine world, it unites, in addition to Slovenia and Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Macedonia and Serbia. The key message of the event is: the region is strong only as much as it is connected. This emblematic event, organised by Croatian wine expert Sašo Špiranec, is taking the lead in the local wine festival scene and rivalling those top ones from neighbouring countries. "By combining well known and reliable recipes for organizing wine festivals with new and original ideas, we are trying to push the boundaries of quality in promoting and presenting wine brands," stresses Špiranec.

Wines from New Europe are too often understood as a source of cheap wines, mainly international varieties. "Well, in fact, the New Europe is a very inspiring space, with many terroir wines, often even autochthonous varieties, vines that are specific to a particular climate, completely original and unique wines. This is the key message that we want to send to the world. That's why we have gathered some of the best winemakers of New Europe and journalists from around the world to get to know them," adds Špiranec.

Slovenia, being titled also European Region of Gastronomy 2021, is known for its excellent wines (and also the oldest vine in the world, located in Maribor!), which complement the extraordinary gastronomic offer. Accordingly, eno-tourism or more often used just simply wine tourism - is vital part of tourism as such. It is all about giving people a memorable experience; build on enthusiasm, authenticity and cooperation. Actually, it is a bit like social media - network matters. A lot! More countries, more wineries, restaurants, museums, hotels, tourist offices, wine shops and other shops are involved and that cooperate, the better it will work. Forbes writes, that in California it has been estimated to contribute $ 2 billion annually to the economy, while in France there were 7.5 million in 2009, but it is estimated that 10 million came in 2016 to discover French wines and vineyards. This represents a growth of more than 30% and a total spend of 5.2 billion euros! In Slovenia, it is estimated that each euro, spent by tourists with visits to winemakers, "left" a further three euros in the tourist destination budget.

Can New Europe benefit from wine tourism as well? No doubt! Potential is enormous, with quality being a major factor for success. Consequently, the large number of exhibitors exhibit their wines in Vinart Grand Tasting by invitation exclusively, quality being the only criteria of selection. Slovenia will be represented by the two selected winemakers: Aljoša Jakončič, Jakončič & Carolina Wines and Matjaž Lemut, TILIA estate - House of Pinots. Aljoša Jakončič is known for selling the most expensive wine in Slovenia, while Lemut is addressed by The Financial Times as the "most cosmopolitan" winemaker from Slovenia. 



Aljoša Jakončič, Carolina & Jakončič Winery 


Aljoša Jakončič comments: "New Europe has progressed and attracted the attention of world wine critics. In future, this will set us alongside the great wine powers. At the moment, they poses, besides their quality, also bigger financial lure, while our wines are becoming recognizable by their sincerity."

So, we meet the eternal question of how the taste of wine lovers is changing and how wine producers approach responds - and vice versa. Špiranec answers: "Some winemakers such as Coronica, Kozlović, Benvenuti, Krajančić and Miloš, or in Slovenia Movia, Simčič and Burja, dictate trends and visions to customers, but most winemakers nevertheless follow the taste of their audience and adapt to it. The taste of customers is changing in line with global trends. Once popular, the so-called "big wines", that is massive wines, with a lot of alcohol and a touch of oak, are no longer popular today, and winemakers take this into account. "

When it comes to Špiranec's opinion on local wine scene, he stresses, "the quantity of excellent wines that come from Slovenia today is impressive. It is no longer a region with a dozen good winemakers, but with dozens of excellent at the world level. I am sure that sooner or later the Primorska and Styria as a wine region will be as important and popular as one Burgenland, Tokaj, Friuli or Alzas. However, there is still room for improvement. "Slovenian wine scene, in terms of the organization of the wine industry and marketing communication is still superficial and unorganized - in comparison to the rest of the world," adds Špiranec.

Leading up to Vinart Grand Tasting are 21 workshops taking place, with variety of topics is being considered with different speakers from the wine business accompanied with wine tastings. A masterclass, dedicated to potential and creativity of Pinot Noir is led by internationally acclaimed expert in the field of viticulture and wine making from Slovenia - Matjaž Lemut. Lemut is present on Croatian wine market since 2004, when he was actively creating new generation of fresh white wines, nowadays, however, he takes pleasure to work closely with wineries in Istra and Slavonija. "It is my deep pleasure to be able to raise new generations of oenologists. Their youthful desire to create satisfies me greatly," adds Lemut. His masterclass, dedicated to one of the most sensuously fragrant red grapes and the wine is the most highly prized wine in the world, will take place on February 28th in Double Tree Hotel by Hilton. 


Matjaž Lemut, TILIA estate- House of Pinots


One of the 2019 Grand VINART innovations is a "Pop-Up Wine shop". In an effort to upscale the wine culture, Vinart Grand Tasting enables the visitors to acquire limited amounts of all of the wines exhibited during the tasting.



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