The Slovenia Times

An Interesting Vintage



While the summer of 2010 was kind of sour, resulting in a below average wine crop, this long and hot summer just gone brought about a whole different condition for grapes to ripen, resulting in an early picking.
Maribor-based Vinag reports a massive harvest - 30 percent up on last year - with healthy grapes with high sugar values. But the biggest winemaker in east Slovenia still has some concerns. "The crops may not be so wonderful for the process of winemaking itself", explains Miha Tramšak of Vinag. "There are several traps in other chemical parameters, apart from the sugar. Wines have lower acid and high PH - something winemakers should be cautious about, unless they want to run into troubles."
As for products, Vinag still holds an ace from the previous season - its premium line of 2010 is about to be released and will be eagerly greeted by lovers of matured wines. Sales manager Mateja Štabuc hopes the customers will recognise the line's quality: "The price/quality line has fallen. It is difficult to convince a customer that they are paying a reasonable price for a really good wine."

Early ripening

In the meantime, a smaller winemaker a few hills over is cautiously optimistic. "In general, we are satisfied," reports Miro Munda from Kog. "It may not be the year of the century, but it's certainly a good one."
"At first we suspected the year would be similar to that of 2003, but it wasn't so: there was enough rainfall and the year held on despite high temperatures. The acids, the typical freshness of Štajerska region, were preserved, which is evident with the young wines that have already matured. The aromatic element might suffer a bit."
When it comes to production, he is paying extra attention to Šipon, a typical representative of Prlekija as well as Blue Franc, another typical grape extending across the Panonian plain. As for quantity, he has decided to limit production. In the future he wants to get back to the roots of winemaking - literally - and plant the vines as the grandparents did. The idea more vines per acre and less pruning, the result being more mature, full-flowered grapes.

Slightly less

Over in the Mediterranean West, quantities have not been quite as high as in the white wine dominated east. According to Aleksej Erzetič from Goriška Brda, 2011 was generally a good one but the harvest was 20 percent lower than the year before due to high temperatures and lack of rainfall. Picking started as early as 20 August and the juice had already fermented and in some instances even been bottled as a young wine. Erzerič is known for his innovation, or more accurately his skill at reinventing traditions. One such brainwave is using clay amphoras to store the wine along with stainless steel and oak barrels. Their next move is to plant a few acres of Black Rebula, a grape that disappeared from the market years ago.
It is these sorts of innovations which keep the Slovenian wine market fresh. And with the interesting weather conditions of this past summer, it seems likely that the 2011 vintage will be an especially exciting one.


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