On Tuesday 5th February a tasting of Slovenian wines was hosted in Dublin by Liam and Sinead Cabot, and a very good tasting it was too. This is not the first time that such a tasting has been held here but it is a brave step for a small importer to take and I commend Liam and Sinead for doing this, especially in these tough times. Most of the wines shown would retail around €15 so these are in the top 5% or less of all retail wine sales in Ireland! However, for those adventurous souls willing to experiment there are great rewards ahead.
Some 23 wineries presented wines, so about 100+ wines to try, and a number also had a representative present. Slovenia is not that well known and the emphasis is on white wines, with furmint (or sipon as it is known locally) being one of the big stars. However, pinot gris, aka sivi, and riesling were well represented, as well as rebula (local name for ribolla gialla) and the seemingly weed-like sauvignon blanc! It grows everywhere.
Reds were fewer and farther between but merlot, cabernet sauvignon and refosc (refosco) all appeared, as did a little pinot noir.
I didn't get to taste all the wines but tasted about 58 so a reasonable sample size for fair comment. All in all, the whites tend to a mineral style, with riesling being quite lean aromatically: I doubt I would easily identify it blind. Sivi was an eye-opener - I like pinot gris generally and the wines shown had class and elegance. The furmint wines lacked the screaming acidity you get in Hungary and were mineral in style, but overall good and well balanced. The few chardonnays were a bit oaky but that's fine by me, I like the style.
The reds were a bit more variable - merlots and cabernets tended to the lean, cool climate style but the pinots noir were not as good as I would have liked, especially disappointing as the pinots gris fared very well.
Only two wineries are currently represented in Ireland - Miro and Verus both on sale through Cabot & Co and On the Grapevine respectively. For me, these two wiberies were among the stars of the show, with Miro perhaps edging it due to the wonderful range of mature whites. Their XL is a blend, differing each vintage, and they had 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2011 on show. The 2006 was yummy and a blend of pinot blanc and chardonnay and costs €19.99. The Verus pinot gris 2012 was also a stunner and well worth it's €19.99 price tag.
Among the wineries I have tasted before were Dveri pax who had some quite affordable wines. Their 2011 riesling was almost Franken in style - firm, earthy and minerally - and would retail somewhere in the €15 to €17 price range. Their "M" riesling, a single vineyard offering, probably a €28 bottle, had a marvellous flavour of over-ripe apples and was really good.
Another winery I knew before was Marjan Simcic, who makes some astonishingly good wines. His ribolla 2011 was the best ribolla I tasted on the day and his Teodor red (about 435?) was a superb red wine and easily one of the best reds I've tried in a long time. His namesake, Edi Simcic, also ghas some super wines, especially the Triton lex 2008 chardonnay/ribolla/sauvignon blend. Santomas had three lovely reds on show.
Overall, a few comments - skin contact is popular and works quite well. Some whites were a little oxidative but, again, were fine. The reds weere mixed and there needs to be some work on pinot noir as the wines just do not match the price point, especially in markets where there are good Burgundy merchants, or merchants who source the better pinots from the New World. Pinot gris is a definite winner as are the local sipon, ribolla and refosco grapes.
- Dublin, Ireland
- I'm a Master of Wine (MW) having passed in 1997. I have worked in wine education, mostly, but also retail and consultancy. I am currently a member of the Council of the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW) and am Chairman of IMW's Trips Committee. If you post a comment, identify yourself properly or it won't be published. Please note that I do NOT review products or services on request so kindly don't ask.