Red wine varieties in Slovenia
Slovenia is known worldwide for its white and orange wines. Red wines make up just under 20-25% of the wines produced in Slovenia's wine regions. However, anyone who deals a little with the topic of red wine in Slovenia will be surprised at the variety of grape varieties and production methods. In this blog we would like to dedicate ourselves to the red wines of Slovenia and give them an initial overview of regions and varieties.
Refosco (Refosk in Slovenian)
Slovenia's best known and most popular red wine is by far the Refosk. It is mainly grown in Slovenian Istria and the Karst region. Also found in cuvées or in small quantities in the Vipava Valley and the Brda region. It is one of the darkest types of wine, with a deep purple hue. For this reason he is often called "the black one" in Slovenia. In the karst area, where the Refosk is grown on the red "Terra Rossa", it is also called Teran. The variety is so popular here and is so popular with private individuals that Teran can be found as a house wine in almost every restaurant. The quality of the Refosk can vary greatly. There are very cheap and bad refosks as well as many very good to excellent wines. The aroma is mainly dark fruits, such as blackberries and cherries, but also spicy notes of light sharpness and herbs. The Refosk usually has a rather low alcohol content. It impresses with its fresh, crisp acidity, which makes it an excellent summer red wine. Our producer, the Vinakoper winery in Slovenian Istria, produces many different varieties of Refosk and shows how versatile and exciting the grape variety is. You can discover our selection of Refosk here.
Pinot Noir (Slovenian: Modri Pinot)
The world-famous Pinot Noir grape variety, sometimes notorious among winemakers due to its high standards, is also popular in Slovenia. Some of the best red wines in the country are made from it. Particularly noteworthy is the Burja winery in the Vipava valley with the Burja Noir. In addition to classic red wines, it is used to produce rosé wines and rosé sparkling wines of great quality, especially in Slovenian Styria. Wines made from the Pinot Noir grape variety are characterized by fruity berry notes, floral components, light smoke aromas and, when matured in barriques, also by vanilla, cinnamon and bitter almond notes. The characteristics range from light and fruity to full and complex. Also recommended are the Pinot Noir from the Vino Kupljen and Dveri-Pax wineries.
Blaufränkisch (Modra Frankinja)
As researchers recently found out, the Blaufränkisch grape variety actually comes from Slovenia. In Germany we know them under the name Lemberger. It loves a mild, not too cool climate and is one of the grape varieties with a later harvest time. It produces fruity, fresh red wines with a fine acidity. Due to its usually high storage potential, it is often grown in a wooden barrel. We particularly recommend the Modra Frankinja from the Dveri-Pax winery, which is usually only sold about 8 years after the harvest. We often find wines from Blaufränkisch in Slovenian Styria and Posavje. If you are looking for a fresh red wine, you will surely find it at the winery or the Pleterje monastery. Be it as a red wine or as a rosé.
The world's most commonly grown grape variety is also used in Slovenia to make beautiful red wines. It prefers a warm climate, which is why it is mainly found in Slovenian Istria, the Vipava Valley and the Brda region. Their variety of flavors and intensity is what makes them so popular around the world. Aromas of raspberries, cassis, blueberries and plums through to green peppers. Due to its high level of tannin and smoky notes of tobacco and cigarette smoke, as well as strong vanilla aromas, it can almost overwhelm many a palate. However, those who like deep and voluminous red wines will find what they are looking for at Cabernet Sauvignon in Slovenia. The natural wine variants from the Batic and Movia wineries are particularly interesting. If you want to try something new, we recommend the Rosé Cabernet Sauvignon from the Batic winery. One of our most popular rosé wines.
The most popular international red wine variety in Slovenia is Merlot. After Refosk and Zametovka, it is the most common. The classic description of a Merlot is strong, fruity, full-bodied, body-hugging. Aromas of dark fruits, plums, cherries, blackberries, scents of a forest specie and herbs. Its relatively low tannin content makes it appear velvety and soft and makes it very drinkable even at a young age. In Slovenia we find it most often in the southern regions with a milder climate, such as the Vipava Valley, Slovenian Istria and Brda. Vinakoper produces two beautiful lines here. A Merlot from the large wooden barrel and a beautifully matured barrique. The Batic and Movia wineries also deliver exciting barriques based on the French model every year. It is also very popular as a component in the best cuvée of the wineries. In the Vipava Valley, a wonderful example of this is the Cultus Red.
The Zametovka grape is the second most popular red wine variety in Slovenia, even if almost nobody would say so based on the feeling. This is due to the fact that it is almost exclusively used in cuvée. It is a central part of the ever popular Cvicek. In the variant Zametovka Crnina (translated: black velvet) it is the grape variety of the oldest known grapevine in the world in Maribor. It has nice fruity berry aromas, but also a crisp acidity. As a single-variety wine, we only got to know it from the Pleterje monastery in the form of the classically produced, semi-dry sparkling wine. This is ideal as an aperitif.
Further red grape varieties in Slovenia: