Slovenian wines have been extraordinarily popular this year, and for good reason!
Multifactorial, responsibly made wines, bursting with unique characteristics at everyday prices from a place not everyone is familiar with are inspiring us to buy every drop available in Vermont.
Today, we highlight two Slovenian wines (which both happen to be vegan) – Rojac Refošk (red) and Slavček Sivi Pinot (white/semi-orange).
Slavček Sivi Pinot – A slightly extended skin contact white (semi-orange) wine that primarily inspired us to create our ‘Native & Natural’ wine section. Semi-dry, medium bodied white that is not too acidic or oaky – very crowd pleasing for an eclectic wine.
Rojac Refošk – A robust, very food friendly wine (think BBQ, roast beef, game, Bolognese, anything rich!) bursting with old-world rusticness, deep earthiness, tannins, and a little acidity for balance.
If you haven’t taken a journey to Slovenia, Rojac Refošk and Slavček Sivi Pinot can take your primary senses away on ‘liquid trip’.
Na zdravje! (cheers)
Slavček: Sivi Pinot –
- Winery: Slavček
- Wine Maker: Franc Vodopivec
- Location: Dornberk, Slovenia
- Appellation: Vipavska Dolina
- Altitude: 260’–560′
- Soil: Lime rich marlstone
- Winery Process: Practicing Organic
- Grape Varietal(s): 100% Sivi Pinot (a.k.a. Pinot Grigio / Pinot Gris)
- Vintage: 2017
- Fermentation Vessel(s): 50 % oak barrel (10 years old), 50 % stainless steel
- Yeasts: Natural
- Maceration: 24 hours
- Malolactic: Spontaneously during fermentation
- Aging: 25% in the old acacia barrels (200 L), 25% in old foudres (200 L), 50% in foudres (1000 L, 1500 L & 2000L)
- Aged For: 3 months of lying on sediments
- Clarification/Filtration: After a month in a stainless tank, where the wine is exposed to ambient low temperature to become stable and ready for bottling by racking
- Vegan: Yes
- Alcohol Content: 13.5% vol.
About Slavček –
Slavcek is a family winery with a history of over two centuries in the Vipava Valley. It’s currently helmed by Franc Vodopivec. The historic winery runs as a traditional agrotourismo and inn. The Slavcek winery and inn only serve what has been grown on the land, everything prepared with centuries-old traditions, including the wine. The oldest records of the farm, from 1769, indicate that it was called “Slavčevih” (Nightingale).
In Vipava, the reputation of Slavcek is centuries deep for high quality wine, but only under Franc’s stewardship has the winery become world renowned for traditional Slovenian wine.
“Today’s task is to raise the quality of growth, to better express terroir, tradition and the essence of our family cultural values through the winemaking techniques of our forefathers.”
The vineyards are planted with environmentally friendly methods and with consideration and respect of the biodynamic force. All grapes are hand-picked and carefully selected. No pesticides or herbicides of any sort are used.
Even the barrels are local, made from acacia and oak that grow in the nearby forests. The lands are dutifully maintained. Just as much as much as the wines are the family legacy, so are the lands that surrounds them.
Slavcek’s wines are produced according to ancient Slovenian traditions with exteneded maceration for many bottlings which develops a richer taste and deeper color. Natural stabilization occurs at ambient temperatures, with racking only just before bottling.
Rojac Refošk –
- Winery: Rojac
- Winemaker: Uroš Rojac
- Location: Gažon, Slovenia
- Appellation: Slovenian Istra
- Altitude: 650’–820′
- Soil: Sandy Soil (Flysch)
- Winery Process: Certified Organic
- Grape Varietal(s): 100% Refošk
- Vintage: 2015
- Fermentation Vessel(s): Open Vats
- Yeasts: Natural
- Maceration: 10-15 Days
- Malolactic: Spontaneously
- Aging: 18 Months (Oak) + 6 Months (Stainless Steel)
- Clarification/Filtration: None
- Vegan: Yes
- Alcohol Content: 14% vol.
Rojac Wine –
Uroš is the vivacious heir to one of the pioneering families in traditional honest winemaking on the Slovenian coast. Rojac has been making wine in Slokenska Istria since the 19th century. Uroš is considered the wild child of famed wine maker, Bruno Rojac. He’s known for playful antics and a free spirit, and has made a proud and enthusiastic protégée for his father. He rode (and sometimes crashed) motorcycles to school at the Bio-technical Faculty at the University of Ljubljana where he stirred controversy with his thesis about his native grape Refošk.
“There was a time when there was no wine industry. People just grew grapes and made wine…. We do all we can to make drinkable and ultimately healthy wine.”
What promised to be a dynamic father son team came to an unfortunate halt in 2005 with the untimely passing of Bruno at the peak of his career. Reeling from the heard news and pain, many assumed that Uroš would abandon his dreams of running the ancestral winery. Instead Uroš came back stronger than ever running the vineyard, making the wine and becoming one of the youngest and most notable winemakers in the region.
Channeling his energy and passion, he perfected the craft of his forefathers, and started a family of his own. Rather than capitalizing on his success through globalizing his wines, Uroš remained true to his fathers traditional wine methods and continued his approach in the vineyards and the cellar. His is the greatest comeback story in the region, and he’s earned himself the title: King of Refošk.
The Refošk Grape –
Indigenous grape varietal to the region.
Historical records show that the Roman Empress Livija Drussila who lived to the enviable age of 86 years (at that time) presumably by many references to her enjoyment of this “black grape” from river Timavo (Triest river from sea).
This came from a “rocky hill” which produced very little yields to fill only a few amphorae. These vineyard positions can be none other than the great refošk vineyards of the current Rojac Family Estate.
The grape was frequently referenced in Roman times for its health qualities.
The hills of Gažon give the great acidity and elegance for growing refošk, due to the poor soil, altitude, and positioning to