I just love it when we find something truly off the beaten path that delivers not just as a novelty, but that I know will knock people’s socks off. Sometimes wines from slightly surprising places can be the best values it’s possible to find, and this is a stunner. The key is that there’s no real reason that Slovenia should be a surprise other than historical, political and economic factors. They’ve got wonderful old soils, a marginal climate, and centuries of winemaking experience. Find me a better, brighter, or more interesting $15 red for the summer and I’ll be very grateful!
2016 Rado Kocijancic Refosk Brda, Slovenia
Fermented and elevated in stainless steel, this shows dark fruit on the nose but really opens up on the palate as a bright, juicy, fruity number with clean acidity. Though grown on soils not that dissimilar to Burgundy’s Cote d’Or, to me this shows something more like a Morgon or a Moulin a Vent from a little further south. This is going to be a regular for me this summer- perfect for grilling with enough acidity to cut through all sorts of tasty foods, and with the pure fruit to be beautiful on its own as an easy drinker.
More about the Wine:
The rather hard to pronounce province of Brda, within the larger Primorska area of eastern Slovenia, has had a complicated and traumatic history. Until Slovenia’s independence it has in a little more than 200 years been under the ownership of the Republic of Venice, the Austro Hungarian Empire, Italy, and Yugoslavia in that order. Post war Yugoslavia was communist, and much of the reason that Rado Kocijancic currently has a rather modest six steeply sloping hectares of vines is that at least half of his grandfather’s holdings were confiscated when all private property was nationalized by Tito.
As well as those slopes, there’s some serious soil here. With calcareous/clay marls and layers of sandstone, remnants of a gradually risen sea bed over sixty million years. While Refosk as a grape variety actually has a reputation of being able to make some pretty powerful, tannic wines- this was introduced to me as something along the lines of a Slovenian Beaujolais. I actually think there’s a lot more depth to this than that implies, but as alluded to in my tasting note above, does remind me of some of the darker, serious, high end Morgon or Moulin a Vent, with the added minerality that is typical of these old sea bed soils.