Enjoy some of the finest natural wines, from three of the best natural winemakers in the world - all of who call Slovenia their home.
Sebastjan Štemberger moved to Karst in 2011 and took over the management of the property, renowned for the oldest Teran grapevine on Karst, a 250-years-old grapevine named Teranovka. He has a studious and analytical approach to winemaking that does not allow for mistakes.
Vitovska or Vitovska Grganja is an indigenous white grape variety from the Karst plateau. Brought back from the verge of extinction in recent decades there are only 70 hectares of vineyards in existence overlapping the Slovenia and Italy border. It is the pride of the Karst winemakers and it’s a status symbol to have Vitovska Grganja in your wine cellar. Sebastijan managed to change the grape size leveraging different natural techniques to create a smaller ratio between the skins and flesh for optimal maceration. The wine is macerated (left in contact with the skin and pits) for 7-10 days and then matured for 18 months in oak barrels.
In the North East of Slovenia is where you will find former police officer turned natural winemaker Božidar Zorjan. He discovered his calling in life when he and his wife inherited their vineyard from her family some 40 years ago. An avid follower of biodynamic principles he blends the influence of Styrian farmers, their wines, and cuisine in his winemaking process. His wines mature in amphorae, large clay pots, buried behind his house. Mobile phones are not allowed near the wines as not to disturb them so you will never see photographs of the amphorae and Cultisan was given the honour of stirring the wines when we visited Božidar using his handcrafted wooden paddle.
Božidar is now one of the worlds most renowned natural winemakers, his Muscat Ottonel was named the best orange (amber wine) in the world in 2020 by Decanter Magazine. His wine cellar used to be part of a Carthusian monastery from the 12th Century and now his 10-acre estate is home to sheep and deer that roam freely around the vineyards and provide Božidar with high-quality “preparations” that he then uses in his vineyards to naturally fertilise and develop his vines.
Chardonnay is a very popular white wine variety from Burgundy France - but you’ve never tasted one like this before. The grapes are harvested by hand and the stems are removed (only if the stems aren’t ripe enough), the grapes are then transferred to clay amphora which is are buried beneath the ground. In the first month, the fermenting process is very intense but it dies down over time. For the first month, the openings of the amphora are left open, after a month. The amphoras are covered under 1/2m of soil. The wine is naturally changed by nature. Božidar then opens the amphorae around Easter when he separates the sediment and returns the wine to the same amphora. During the first year, the fermentation remains undisturbed, it continues into the second yeas and stops on its own in the third year. This is when the wine is transferred to wooden barrels where it purifie
s, achieving clarification without filtration.
Borut Blažič is a third-generation winemaker and now runs the Blažič family estate. The farm dates back to 1890 when his great-grandfather Peter Blažič bought the farm and dedicated it to wine and fruit-growing. Today three generations live and work together on the farm. They diligently pursue the idea of being nature-friendly in both grape and wine production.
- Jakot Plešivo (the grapes are Tokaj Friulano - Jakot being Tokaj backwards!) has a sparkling and intensive golden yellow colour. It has an intense and rich smell, reminiscent of Mediterranean flowers (mimosa and acacia) and citrus and white fruit. A slight scent of mown grass and a fresh touch of used oak barrels are the ones that round the scent into a harmonious whole, which is then upgraded by the mineral scent, the scent of the Brda soil and a gentle scent of milky caramel that comes to light when the wine begins to breathe with full lungs. The wine is dry, soft and mineral, fresh, of intensive flavour and a long and persistent aftertaste, and last but not least, full-bodied and with elegant harmony.
- Blaž Rdeče (Blaž noir) is a variety of merlot which is blended with cabernet sauvignon to create their most prestigious red wine. The Blaž Rdeče is only produced in the best vintage years and is a highly exclusive product. It is of rich and deep ruby colour with red and violet shades. The aroma is complex and rich –with overripe berries and plums in the foreground, and the scent of spices and dark chocolate in the background. It has a bold and proud body with velvety tannins and a long-lasting fruity aftertaste. The wine still carries the potential for further ageing.