When I told friends I was planning to spend a week in July exploring the food and wine culture of Slovenia, most asked one of two questions:
Both are excellent questions. Let me tackle the latter one first. Slovenia is a little republic that used to be part of Yugoslavia, and before that, the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It sits to the east of Italy and west of Hungary, south of Austria, north of Croatia. It has a population of just about 2 million people, and you might be surprised to learn that it is a member of both the European Union and NATO.
Now for the why. This one is a bit harder to answer, but the gist of it is this: I’d tried some Slovenian wines at restaurants around Los Angeles and what I tasted made me curious to try more. I would provide a more in-depth answer here, but the folks who squired me around the country, Luxury Slovenia, actually recorded an interview of me by a well-known TV personality and host named Mojca Mavec, where I discuss the wines I tried as well as the country’s up-and-coming culinary scene and some of the other fun places I got to visit during my trip. So I’ll just let myself do the talking:
If you’re interested in learning more about the wines I mentioned, here are some links to the wineries and their lists of releases.
Movia: This is probably the best-known and most-exported winery in the country. Among the specific wines I thought were most interesting were the Puro sparkling Chardonnay-Rebula blend, and the Lunar Rebula, which is aged for 9 months and racked into bottles during the full moon.
Edi Simcic: Also in the Goriska Brda region, this is a great little family winery producing some very special, high-end vintages. Among the wines I most enjoyed here were the utterly rich Kozana Chardonnay and the Duet Lex red Bordeaux blend.
Marjan Simcic: Another Simcic! If you find a wine with Simcic on the label, it’s probably going to be decent. The one I tried from Marjan was a tart but earthy Pinot Noir.
Slavcek: I tried a typical “orange wine” made from Rebula that was both light yet very complex. while having dinner at Hisa Franko in the Kobarid region.
Medot: This is the sparkling wine I was drinking in the video. Their non-vintage brut is made from a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and, of course, Rebula. It was delicious. Both refreshing and effervescent, but also slightly creamy and nutty.
That’s just a brief look at a very few of the dozens of wines I was able to try during my visit, but trust me, I’ll be telling you about a lot more of them as time goes by!
I’ll also leave you with a shortlist of some of the non-wine-related highlights of my trip.
Staying at the gorgeously renovated Castello Gredic in Goriska Brda – it’s got a great little restaurant and a fabulous wine cellar so you can get a real benchmark of the region’s wines over the course of a dinner.
Getting to attend the formal Ana’s Ball and staying at the Hotel Aleksander in the spa town of Rogaska Slatina
Whitewater rafting the Soca River in the Julian Alps. The scenery was just stunning, with limestone cliffs, lush forests and aquamarine river streams fed by melting mountain snow.
A locavore dinner of dishes like sheep’s cheese ravioli and Adriatic scampi, crispy duck with celery cream, and rhubarb-strawberry sorbet at Hisa Franko.
Sampling the famous cheese from the Lake Bohinj region before a hike to the Savic waterfall.
Having a lakeside dinner at the historic Grand Toplice Hotel with views of the castle and island chapel of Lake Bled.
Walking the narrow streets and the famous Triple Bridge of the capital of Ljubljana.
And sampling some of the country’s best chefs preparing small bites at the food stalls of Odprta Kuhna, or the “open kitchen” street food festival that sets up shop every Friday from March-October in Pgacarjev Trg Square in the heart of Ljubljana’s old town.
Those are just snippets of my trip, so I think you can probably tell what a full, rich experience I had there. It’s a good thing there were activities like hiking, rafting and ballroom dancing so I didn’t gain too much weight from all the fabulous food I enjoyed!
Have any questions about Slovenia or its wines? Feel free to tweet them to me @clustercrush!