Back in 1542 is when Kogl Estates starting producing wine in the Podravje region of Slovenia, not far from the Hungarian and Croatian borders. It was dormant for quite a while until 1983 when the Svetko family bought the winery and vineyards and brought both back online. Using both old world traditions and new world technology Kogl specialty is white wines, with red wines having been recently added to their portfolio. Dessert wines are also being made.
The 2010 Ranina is rare grape and translates to “early ripening”. With a pretty nose of honey and wild flower, the wine is dry on the 1st sip and has a good mouth texture. Good acidity and fruit gives this wine a nice balance that could be paired with both hot and cold foods. It could also be drank by itself. This wine is an excellent example of a rare grape from an emerging wine region.
Some of the most exciting new wines coming to the United States are the delicious and racy wines from Eastern European countries such as Croatia & Slovenia. Situated on the north and eastern side of the Adriatic Sea and across from Italy both countries have centuries of wine making tradition that has only recently become evident in the U.S. Making both wines from grapes only found in their respected countries and grapes that are internationally known, both Croatia and Slovenia wines are being widely accepted by great retailers and restaurants around the country. Many are practicing natural methods of wine making using only grapes and natural yeast, which allows for the terroir to speak through the wine. So don’t be surprised to see some of these wines at your local wine shop or restaurant. And more importantly give them a try.
Coronica Malvasia is a crisp, acidic white wine that offers good fruit, minerality and is a well balanced food wine. Grown in nutrient rich soil & near the sea, it benefits from the Mediterranean climate found in the Istrian region of northern Croatia. This wine would go great with both fish and lighter fare foods. Retails for about $20.
Kabaj Sivi Pinot is known as pinot grigio outside of Slovenia and is made by Frenchman Jean Michel Morel and his wife Katja Kabaj at there western Slovenian winery, not far from Collio Italy. The Kabaj family has been selling grapes for generations and only started making wine in the 1993 after Slovenia disbanded from Yugoslavia. With vineyards near the Italian border, Kabaj makes wine in a very old world style using clay vats (called “Qveri amphora”) for fermenting and aging in some of their wines.
This full bodied pinot is crisp, lively and dry also shows good fruit and complexity rarely found in pinot grigio’s. It is aged for a year in oak and held back 3 years prior to release. It would go well with shellfish, cheese’s and fruits. Retail is about $20.
3rd generation winemaker Tony Coturri gets the grapes for his Carignane from 3rd generation grape growers, Testa Family and their 70 year old vines in Mendocino County. Carignane is a grape usually found in the Rhone region & southern France and is usually used as a blending grape. Less than 1,000 cases of this rare bottling are made. Coturri does not use chemical or additives on his wines & uses natural yeast and his wines are not filtered or fined. This gives the truest expression of the vineyard & terroir.
The 09 vintage has a rich, red color that is dry, yet still has nice fruit at the start, along with medium tannins and a spicy finish that lingers on the palate. A well balanced wine that goes well with grilled meats and roasts. A great opportunity to experience Carignane if you’ve never had one before. 13.9% ABV Suggested retail should be less than $25.00 www.coturriwinery.com
As I have chosen a career in the wine industry I’ve been on both sides of the equation, buying & selling. Buying for retailers and selling both wholesale & retail, I’ve come across many narrowed minded people.. retailers, restaurateurs and consumers who choose not embrace the ever evolving world of wine. Even after 18 years in the industry I am always learning about new varietals, wine regions, etc. that become available. I only wish more people would not take wine so seriously to the point where they won’t try something new and tend to play it safe w/ predictable purchases. I understand that there is only so much shelve space in a retail shop or so much room on a restaurant’s wine list, but to hear some of the excuses is somewhat sad. Most of the excuses come from people who started a career doing something else & liked wine or cashed in some stock options and opened a wine bar/retailer. It’s usually these people who feel that actually “selling” wine becomes a burden. Some will say “I don’t have demand for …”, so do you create the demand using passion & enthusiasm, not to mention there are many opportunities nowadays to taste consumers. I look at like which comes first, the chicken or the egg.
Wine is meant to be fun and enjoyable and part of the fun is being open to new varietals such as Malvasia, Tannat, Gamay, etc. Having spoken to other wine industry people and even tasted wine w/ them we’ve wondered why more people don’t embrace lesser known varietals. After all grapes are grapes like apples are apples with similar textures but different uses and taste profiles and their is not something so off the charts in there taste. The best advice I can give to people about wine is to keep an opened mind. Another post I did which may be the precursor to this one. http://pullingcorksandforks.blogspot.com/2010/07/youre-not-into-wine-if.html
As the organic food movement has picked up speed over the last few years, there is also a movement with organic, biodynamic and natural wine. Organic & biodynamic happen in the grape growing process, for them to be natural the process must continue in the wine making process. By not using or using the least amount possible any of the 200 approved additives permitted in wine, this also includes the technological manipulation(spinning cones, laboratory cultivated yeast,etc) that will take away what the individual terror & what mother nature has provided. This is the way wine has been made for centuries before technology was introduced.
The definition is similar to the German Law of Purity for beer, where only water, barley and hops are used. Natural wine is just grape juice and nothing else.
Some aspects to consider in natural wine…
Avoiding chemical herbicides.
Using indigenous yeasts.
Hand picked grapes.
Low to no filtering & sulfites.
No adding of powdered tannins.
Respecting of the grapes including rough handling,pumping or micro-oxygenation.
Natural winemaking represents the true expression of terroir and prevents wine varietals from all tasting the same.
As wine has become more mainstream in the last 15 years, it’s no doubt the wine industry now has a big spectrum from the small wineries who have a passion for wine making or the big bulk producer where it has become more about the dollars and cents of it all. Along with the growth has been the marketing of wine making it more or less a commodity in some circles. Marketers using psychology to get in your head and trying to get you to buy their wine. Whether it’s seeing a lot of the product making you think “there’s a lot so, it has to be good” mentality or just getting you to look at it and taking a mental note by using colored boxes, funky labels or sponsorships to catch your eye.
The wine media is just as guilty of getting in your head with its 100 point ratings system in some cases. Equating a number with the opinion of a few select people, who usually look for different things than the casual drinker will. You already know you like the wine before you pull the cork as you’ve subliminally told yourself based on the score or price for that matter. Not to mention you probably just looked at the score and didn’t even read the comments. If you did you would probably buy lesser scored wines as some sound really good.
The above is based on what’s outside the bottle, what about the wine itself? Manipulating it to make you like it with, added sugar (chaptalization) to drive up alcohol content, not to mention the big oak and fruit people seem to gravitate to. Having done plenty of R&D, large wine companies know how to market what is the best flavor profile to please the masses to be repeat customers.
Be assured there are things you can do to avoid letting the marketers get in your head and influence your decision making process. One way is by keeping an open mind, realizing everybody’s objective is to SELL. Whether it the actual winery and it’s packaging or the magazines, bloggers and it’s ratings system to sell magazines and ad space(Conflict of Interest??) or build traffic. Everybody has an agenda so take everything with a grain of salt..and a glass of wine.