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I feel sLOVEnia

Posted: Wednesday, 13 May 2015 17:03

Blog: I feel sLOVEnia

May 13: The wonderful world of wine is also beautiful but it appears to be even more so if you visit the green Slovenia where you find plenty of love, food, wine and warmth, as I found when I made a foray into the green country, a neighbour of Austria in the North and Italy on the West, thus having style and flavours of both the countries in their wines, after the recently concluded Concours di Mondial de Bruxelles in Jesolo near Venice.

Click For Large ViewDriving from Venice to north-west the first time wine traveller would wonder what to expect in the unknown territory of Slovenia-or is it Slovakia- or Slavonia? It was a part of the former Yugoslavia which was a conglomerate of six nations till all hell broke loose and Slovenia and Croatia managed to pull themselves out of the confederation formed after World War II. The Slavs have been making wines for 2000 years and I have had a few very interesting tastings before but I wasn’t sure what to expect as a country. The only thing I did know was that my Slovenian friends had been persistently inviting me for years with a promise that Slovenia was a beautiful country and I would not be disappointed.

Slovakia- is the other half of Czechoslovakia and Slavonia is one of the 4 historic parts of Croatia known to most wine lovers for its oak casks. Most know that its capital is Ljubljana, less than 2 hours from the Italian border.  But they may not know that it has barely 2 million population- less than Delhi! It’s the only country in the world which has ‘LOVE’ spelt in its name (Slovenia) and one may find the people very warm and friendly.

Click For Large ViewIt is difficult not to fall in love with a country whose National Anthem was inspired by the poet-cum-lawyer and a national figure of late, Dr. France Preseren whose poem was a ‘Toast’ and gives reference to vine and wine. To the wine ignoramuses in India, that would be tough to understand.

After an interesting walking tour of the city I had an overnight sojourn in Ljubljana, a beautiful and seemingly relaxed city where I had my first taste of a gourmet meal at Rsetavracia JB, the top restaurant of Ljubljana and one of the 3 top restaurants in Slovenia.  Chef-owner Janez Bratovž.is a genius and a celebrity Chef who is perhaps one of the world’s top chefs. The wines were well paired with the special cuisine.

Click For Large ViewI was impressed by how green the countryside was as we drove to the western border, in the small town of Plitvica near Maribor to visit Steyer Winery owned by Danilo Steyer, considered the king of Traminer. While I would write about the wineries at a later date, suffice it to say that the modern winery to be inaugurated a couple of days after I visited the winery, had me as the first international visitor. Perhaps it had a special significance because I had met Danilo at a wine show in Mumbai about 5 years back and remembered liking his wines. It was my first winery taste of feeling Slovenia though I had been earlier quite impressed by the dinner at the Restaurant and earlier at the eatery at the well-known Ljubljana Castle, a destination for any first time tourist- affording a picturesque view of the city.

Click For Large ViewIt was later as I visited the winery of Doppler owned by the third generation woman producer Mihaela Kopse, on the top of a plateau with a picture perfect view of the fairytale  landscape that I realised how green Slovenia was. The modern cellar with gravity-type winery cut into the hill, is a goldmine waiting to be tapped through the wine tourists. It was also a revelation that over 76% of Slovenia is green with forests and the time was perfect to show its natural beauty. A perfect spot for deluxe wine tourists if she adds a Spa to the wine tourism destination she plans to create, barely 30 minutes ride from Maribor.

Click For Large ViewThe small winery Joannes near the town of Maribor with a population of less than 100,000 with a significant number speaking German as it is close to Austria, was an evidence of the excellent  Riesling being produced by Bostjan Protner, a winemaker who is also a thinker and experiments all the time even though he has a very small production. 

Click For Large ViewThe night halt at the three wine tourist homes of Vald Huber, Majerija and Nejka Klinec made me realise that the government in collaboration with EU was offering 45% subsidy for upgradation of the wineries and wine tourist homes. They make you feel just like the other two regions I visited the following days in Vipava Valley and the Goriska Brda- The indescribable beauty had a unique charm.

Click For Large ViewWhere there is so much natural beauty can the natural wines be far behind? Valter Mlecnic is the uncrowned king of the natural wines which are also referred to as Orange Wines. Though Movia, Walter Sirk and Edi Cimcic I visited make the very interesting orange wines, they would not like to be put in the same class as Valter. Another surprise was Tilia Wines who recently celebrated calling themselves ‘House of Pinot’ where Matja Lemut and his wife who has done PhD in the study of Pinot Noir are working hard to make the best Pinot in Slovenia.

Slovenia is a beautiful small country that beckons wine lovers like me who will certainly feel the beauty, love, food and wines of SLOVEnia once they visit the tiny country, once a part of Yugoslavia, now a member of the 28-member European Union.

I know, I FEEL SLOVENIA!

Subhash Arora

I would like to thank my friends Nina Levic(h)nik and Bruno Gabers(h)ek who worked diligently with the Slovenian Tourist Board to take care of the arrangements for the visit which would not have otherwise materialised-editor

Video Unplugged - Slovenia-Panoramic View in Goriska Brda

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Tags: Slovenia, Slovakia, Slavonia, Ljubljana, Dr. France Preseren, Rsetavracia JB, Steyer Winery, Valter Mlecnic, Orange Wines, Tilia Wines, House of Pinot

Comments:

 

Subhash Arora Says:

Dear Franc, please read my article carefully. I am trying to clarify that there are 3 different regions/countries. In many countries, especially in India, the confusion still exists. I have tried to focus the attention to Slovenia (I know the Slovinians write it as Slovinija). I also took pains to give the co-ordinates of your country with respect to Austria and Italy! Even I didn't know, but when I posted an Article regarding Slovenia on the Facebook, I saw a confusion between Slovenia and Serbia! Thanks for the Post. Please read my Article again. If there is still a doubt, let me know, I will look into it. You need to only appreciate that the J (pronounces as y) creates a confusion in people's minds outside the Croatia-Slovenia region. Subhash Arora

Posted @ May 18, 2015 16:24

 

Franc zun Says:

My God, you've mixed up Slovakia, Slavonia and Slovenia....Everythnig you are writing about is in Slovenia (Slovenija....), which is not Slovakia, either not Slavonia....Slovenia is independent country, not linked in any way to Slavonia or Slovakia...not blaim you, similar error coud happen to me, when I would like to write about India....

Posted @ May 18, 2015 13:00

 
 

 
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