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The Secret Gems of the Wine World

“The wine world moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once and a while you might miss it… Chickachicka.” Thanks Ferris Bueller you old cad, we’ll take it from here, now get back to school!

If you’re not a fan of references to 80s cult classics or information about emerging wine regions then this blog may not be for you, no hard feelings we’ll catch up with you next week… Now they’re gone, cool kids, what do you reckon, was Ferris just a manifestation of Cameron’s rebelling id during a flu induced hallucination, like a timorous teenage Fight Club? Good, that’s what we think too.

It is astonishing the breadth of regions where wine is now being made, we remember when wine came from Bordeaux, Burgundy or sometimes Tuscany!  Given our business is tracking down the greatest bottle oddities from around the globe, we couldn’t let these curious regions go unrepresented in our range. This month we’re focusing on the wines of Slovenia, Macedonia and Crete; here’s what you need to know.

Crete is the largest Greek island, to the south- east of the mainland, if you were on the precipice of asking “what about the Peloponnese?” that’s a peninsula smart-ass. Considering Crete shares a latitude with Syria, many consider this a less than ideal location for quality wine production however these nay-sayers would be wrong! The Mediterranean breezes and the altitude of top quality vineyards allows the grapes to have an extended ripening period, preserving the grapes aromatics and acidity.

Today the most important viticultural centre is the area south of Heraklion, although ambitious producers are also to be found around Chania in the west and Sitia in the east.

The growing conditions of Macedonia are defined by the interacting influences of the Mediterranean & the continental climate to the north, along with significant mountain ranges throughout the country and sizeable lakes to the south-west.

Like most Eastern-European wine countries, quality wine production was not a priority for much of the 20th Century however with recent investment in modern winemaking equipment and foreign consultants improving vineyard management the quality has rocketed. There are significant plantings of international varietals but most excitement has been around indigenous grapes; Smederevka, Vranec and Kratoshija have all attracted attention.

After the Second World War, production was limited to state led co-operatives where quantity was prioritised, and quality was regarded as subversive. However, private sector enterprises emerged and became commercially significant in the 1970s. Slovenia was the first ex-Yugoslavian nation to develop a successful wine industry, with well-regulated wine laws (Vinska družba is the regulatory body and introduced a seal of approval for Slovenian wines) and commercially significant international and local wine sales.

Slovenia is divided into three wine regions; Podravje in the north east, Primorska in the west, close to Italian border and Posavje in the south-east.

Traditionally, wines were vinified in large neutral casks made from Slavonian oak, despite this practice still being relatively common, the use of stainless steel is now widespread. Most wines are made with international grape varieties such as Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc & Pinot Grigio however some local varieties are gaining traction.