Slovenia and white wine - a centuries-old fruitful relationship
More than 80% of the wines produced in Slovenia are white wines. And orange wines made from the same varieties in a modified process. That is why Slovenia is still an insider tip for white wine lovers, although the "secret" is no longer entirely true. More and more people are discovering the wonderful wines of this small country for themselves. This is a great and rapid success for Slovenia, in which it has only been possible to operate privately-owned wine-growing again since the 1990s. The vintners are very ambitious to oppose the neighboring countries of Austria and Italy, which are known for their wine, with their own unique wines. Their success proves them right.
But which types of white wine can wine lovers expect in Slovenia? We give an initial overview.
Welschriesling (slowenisches Synonym: Laski Rizling)
Many already know the Welschriesling variety from Austria. However, this fresh and tangy white wine variety is also often grown in Hungary, Croatia and Serbia. In Italy it is known as Riesling Italico. It is characterized by fine, spicy aromas that range from apple notes to bitter almond notes. She feels particularly at home in the Central and Southeastern European region. A cool to Mediterranean climate suits her best. Often it is developed in the classic dry way, although some Slovenian sweet wines from Welschrielsing have already received international awards. Interesting: The Welschriesling is an important component of the Slovenian wine specialty Cvicek from the Posavje region. As a single-variety wine, we mostly find it in the northern Podravje region. As part of excellent cuvées also in the Vipava Valley. For a first impression of the variety in Slovenia, we would like to recommend the dry, fresh and elegant Welschriesling from the Dveri-Pax winery in Styria, Slovenia.
Known all over the world and also at home in Slovenia, the Sauvignon Blanc. It is cultivated as a monovarietal wine, especially in the Slovenian Styria region. It can be found all over Slovenia as a component of white wine cuvée. Its richness of flavors from gooseberries and exotic fruits to elderberries and grassy parts and its creamy texture and minerality make it what it is in Slovenia. We often find it built in steel, as in the case of the Vino Kupljen winery. The barrique-aged variant Vajgen from the Dveri-Pax winery is also exciting and recommended. If you have a preference for something light and sweeter, we would be happy to recommend the Sauvignon from Pleterje Abbey.
Chardonnay came to Slovenia in the first third of the 19th century and is indispensable there today. It is very popular as a base for sparkling wines or in so-called entry-level white wines. Since Chardonnay can be matured very well in barriques, beautiful premium white wines are also produced in some wineries, such as the Dveri-Pax Chardonnay Vajgen or orange wine specialties such as the Movia Lunar Chardonnay. You can find fresh and elegant Chardonnay variations in steel at the Vino Kupljen winery from Jeruzalem or at the Vinakoper winery from Slovenian Istria. Characterized by notes of apple, peach and melon, aromas of tropical fruits and even nutty parts, the Chardonnay is often referred to as the white Cabernet Sauvignon.
Riesling (Renski Rizling in Slovenia)
The extremely popular Riesling variety, which comes from Germany, is also grown in Podravje in northern Slovenia. Since the Riesling prefers a cooler climate, in Slovenia it can only be found there and in parts of the Posavje. Crisp acidity, a comprehensive aroma structure and extraordinary aging potential have made Riesling very popular in Slovenia as well. The expansion options are diverse. The Slovenes also like to drink it in a semi-dry or even sweet variant, e.g. as a Trockenbeerenauslese.
Malvasia (in Slovenia: Malvazija bzw. Malvazija Istarska)
We find over 50 different varieties of the Malvasia variety worldwide. The Slovenian variation is called Malvazija Istarska because it was originally grown in Slovenian Istria. Nowadays we can find it all over the Primorska region, including in Brda and the Vipava valley, where it is often used for orange wine. It results in fruity-spicy wines with a tendency to high alcohol content and little acidity. Discover our Malvazija Istarska variants of Batic, Movia and Vinakoper here.
Ribolla Gialla (Rebula in Slovenia)
The Ribolla Gialla grape variety is often referred to in Slovenia as the "queen" of the Brda region. This is where it is most commonly grown in the world. The proximity to their country of origin, Italy, as well as the climatic parallels play a major role. In addition to the Brda, it is also becoming increasingly popular in the Vipava Valley, although it was almost forgotten at the end of the 80s and would only have been used as part of a cuvée. Since then, it has seen a real renaissance. Around Ljubljana it is often made of steel. Orange wine producers from Brda like to age them in barriques or even in amphorae. The result is spicy, intense white wines with little acidity and a complex structure. The Rebula from the Movia winery is highly recommended.
Pinot Gris (Sivi Pinot in Slovenia)
The grape Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio in Italy), which originally comes from France and is known worldwide, is also popular in Slovenia. We can find many beautiful variations of this white grape variety, especially in Slovenian Styria. Matured in steel tanks, their fruity aromas of pears, pineapples and dried fruit come to the fore. Particularly pleasant in connection with the buttery and nutty aromas. We recommend the Pinot Gris from the Vino Kupljen and Dveri-Pax wineries. The skin of the Pinot Grapes is unusually soft pink to pink for a white wine. Due to the development of orange wines in Slovenia and the trend towards more contact with the peel of white wines, exciting Pinot Gris wines that resemble a rosé in color are currently emerging. The Burja winery from the Vipava Valley deserves special mention, but also the excellent Pinot Gris from the Batic winery. You can find beautiful Sivi Pinot in almost all regions of Slovenia. Keep your eyes open!
Furmint (Sipon in Slovenia)
Little known in Germany, the Furmint is very popular in Slovenia. It is believed to be of Hungarian origin and was the second most common cultivation in Slovenian Styria up until the end of the 19th century. After the indigenous variety Ranfol (Belina). Hungary and Slovenia are world leaders in the cultivation of this fine grape variety. Furmint wines show a pronounced mineral character, a relatively high acidity and little alcohol. The aromas, depending on the degree of ripeness, vary from fresh apple notes and pineapple to herbal aromas of chamomile or fennel, combined with subtle hints of honey. Be it in the fresh, young variant from the steel tank e.g. from the Kupljen winery or in the ripe, intense variant from the barrique barrel from the Dveri-Pax winery, the Furmint from Slovenia is a varied and elegant grape variety that we are very enthusiastic about. Samo Kupljen also produces an exciting orange wine variant of the Furmint, which highlights the potential of the grape variety to a new extent.
Gelber Muskateller (Rumeni Muskat in Slovenia)
Known worldwide for its intensely spicy aromas, the yellow muscatel is also extremely popular in Slovenia. Whether as an elegant dry variant or an intensely fruity dessert wine of world class. Whether as a monovarietal wine in Slovenian Istria from the Vinakoper winery or the Dveri-Pax winery in Styria, Slovenia to exciting white cuvées with Muscatel, the opportunities to try this variety are extensive and extremely exciting in Slovenia.
Other well-known white wine varieties from Slovenia:
- Gewürztraminer (Traminec)
- Grüner Sauvignon (Sauvignonasse)
- Weißburgunder (Beli Pinot)
The varieties Zelen and Pinela are particularly popular in the Viapava Valley and produce exceptional orange wines. The wineries Batic, Burja and Cultus have regional variations in their range. In addition to the grape varieties mentioned, there are many other white wine varieties that are grown regionally on a small scale. The varieties mentioned are the ones that we have come across most often in Slovenia so far.
In conclusion, it can be said: Small country - great white wines. For us, Slovenia is the treasure trove of white wine in Europe. It inspires us every year anew with excellent variations of globally popular and regional varieties. We hope you enjoy discovering and enjoying!