Slovenia is 91% self-sufficient in wine

Latest statistics show how important wine is to the country

Slovenia is 91% self-sufficient in wine. That’s quite an achievement since its citizens sup an impressive 43L of wine a year on average (more than a bottle a week).

They have good taste too: 75% of the 823,000 hectolitres of wine produced in 2015/2016 is good quality (with protected designation of origin status).

The country is best known for its white wines, which dominate production. 69% of the country’s total wine production is white (although this has dropped in recent years), and 68% of its consumption (more than 615,000 hectolitres) is white.

The official figures from the office of national statistics:

  • Total wine produced from the good 2015 harvest – 823,000 hectolitres;
  • White wines – almost 570,000 hectolitres (69%);
  • Wines with protected designation of origin status – 615,000 hectolitres (75%);
  • Wines with protected geographical indication status – 145,000 hectolitres (18%);
  • Domestic consumption – about 900,000 hectolitres;
  • White wine consumption – 615,000 hectolitres (68%).

Napa Valley expects ‘tremendous quality’ after near-perfect growing conditions in 2016

Napa Valley expects ‘tremendous quality’ after near-perfect growing conditions in 2016

 The harvest begins at Pine Ridge Vineyard, California (Photo: Business Wire)

The harvest begins at Pine Ridge Vineyard, California (Photo: Business Wire)

The harvest is under way in Napa Valley, with California's winemakers predicting a good vintage after near-perfect growing conditions in 2016.

The harvest is another early one, by historical standards, but similar in timing to the past three years.

It’s the white grapes, such as SauvignonThe main harvest is not expected to begin until the third week of August. Blanc, that are being picked first.

An early bud break followed by warm weather and spring rains brought a rapid start to this year’s growing season while the recent warm temperatures helped the grapes transition from veraison to full ripeness.

The main harvest is not expected to begin until the third week of August.

Garrett Buckland of Premiere Viticultural Services and president of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers said: “The ripening has gone well and it’s been a wonderful season with beautiful weather from bloom, to berry set, to hard seed, through veraison.”

With regards to yield, grapegrowers have reported that the average number of berries per cluster is higher than the historical average in some blocks, but overall, Buckland observed: “Yield looks good to me. This year is expected to be close to average with Cabernet Sauvignon slightly below the normal average. However, while yield is important, it is not the only factor in wine quality. We are anticipating tremendous quality this year.”

The Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG) and Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) say their members are busy finishing canopy work, continuing to thin fruit and keeping a close eye on soil moisture as they wrap up key vineyard activities before settling in for a busy couple of months of harvesting and winemaking.

The main harvest is not expected to begin until the third week of August.

Meanwhile, winemakers such as Michael Honig, president of Honig Vineyard & Winery and vice chair of the NVV, are busy in their cellars bottling recent vintages and making tank and barrel space ready for the wines that will result from this year’s crop. “It’s the calm before the storm,” commented Honig. “Vintners are getting their wineries in tip-top shape, cleaning and checking equipment to ensure we’re ready. Vacations and time off are behind us and we’re rested and ready for the 24/7 nature of the months ahead.”

Winemakers are also out walking the vineyards with their grapegrower partners, participating in the process of deciding the optimal time to pick their grapes. “We’re excited for the promise of a fifth consecutive high quality harvest. Looks like it’s going to be another winning season in the Napa Valley,” said Honig.

Historic English wine estate makes London show debut today

 Surrey estate Denbies celebrates 30 years since planting its first vines this year by making its London Wine Fair debut. It has also updated the film shown at its visitor centre.

Surrey estate Denbies celebrates 30 years since planting its first vines this year by making its London Wine Fair debut. It has also updated the film shown at its visitor centre.

England’s pioneering wine estate, Denbies, is marking its 30th anniversary in the wine industry with its first appearance at the London Wine Fair, which starts at Kensington Olympia today (May 3, 2016).
The Surrey wine estate will be serving its wines at the English Wine Producers stand (T34). These wines include a Pinot Gris that has been fermented and aged in French oak barrels, a red wine made from the unusual combination of Pinot Noir, Rondo and Dunkelfelder grapes, and a dessert wine made from botrytised Ortega grapes.
Most of the other English wine producers at the fair - such as Chapel Down, Hush Heath, Hattingley Valley, Exton Park and Coates & Seely - will be focusing on sparkling wines. Denbies also has some sparkling wines made from its “very best” Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. At Olympia it will be pouring the Cubitt Reserve 2010, named after Thomas Cubitt, the master builder who bought the estate in 1850.
The story behind the estate’s rise and fall and re-emergence as England’s largest single vineyard are told in the recently-updated film shown in the winery’s visitor centre. This film, which uses drone footage, shows ‘The Vineyard Through The Seasons’ and replaces the 360-degree film which had a voiceover by the late ‘Good Life’ actor Richard Briers.
The film features interviews with consultant vineyard manager Duncan McNeill and Christopher White, Denbies' CEO, who has been in charge for 15 years and has lived on the estate with his family since they took it over in 1984. Under his leadership, Denbies has made huge investments in the winery and in the vineyard.
In a statement, he said: “Denbies will be exhibiting at the LWF for the very first time this year and we are excited to be presenting our range of wines to visitors, including recent releases such as our 2014 Pinot Gris, 2010 Cubitt Reserve and Ortega Noble Harvest 2014. This year marks Denbies' 30th anniversary and we are delighted to showcase our sparkling and still wine portfolios at the fair, as part of the English Wine Producers stand. The English wine industry has come a long way over the past three decades and we are confident about the future of English wine both at home and abroad.”
The 2016 London Wine Fair takes place May 3 to 5 May at Kensington Olympia in London.

Is English sparkling wine as good as Champagne?

"It's not Champagne but it's as good as Champagne." That's the verdict of top chef Michel Roux Jr after travelling to a top English winery in Sussex to taste its Chardonnay bubbly. There, Simon Roberts, winemaker at Ridgeview Winery, took Mr Roux Jr through the vineyard, which backs on to the chalky Sussex Downs, and then into the winery that his parents had built to see how English fizz is made. Unsurprisingly, it's very similar to the method used in the Champagne region of France. But this short film does give a good introduction to English sparkling wine and the high quality chased by winemakers like Simon. 

 

Going to Verona for… Armenian wine

 Heading to Verona to Italy's massive wine fair to taste wines from Switzerland, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, Hungary, England, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Serbia, China, and Armenia

Heading to Verona to Italy's massive wine fair to taste wines from Switzerland, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, Hungary, England, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Serbia, China, and Armenia

To mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare, we are heading to Verona in April. As luck would have it, there is also a massive wine fair in the city of Romeo and Juliet. Although Vinitaly (April 10-13) will be packed with winemakers from all parts of Italy, we are going there to taste the wines of Switzerland, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, Hungary, England, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Serbia, China, and the one that’s top of our list, Armenia. 
This is the country which can trace its grape-growing and winemaking back to Noah. 
We met the couple behind leading brand Zorah at the VinCE Budapest wine fair in Hungary earlier this year, and fell in love with its new red wine, Yeraz. At Vinitaly, Zorah’s owners, Zorik Gharibian and wife Yeraz Tomassians, will also be showing the red Karasì 2013 and white Voskì 2014. “Voskì and Yeraz are the new releases while Karasì is at its fourth vintage,” Yeraz told ywine.press.

  Zorah’s owners, Zorik Gharibian and wife Yeraz Tomassians

Zorah’s owners, Zorik Gharibian and wife Yeraz Tomassians

The Zorah Karasì and Yeraz are made from the Armenian grape variety Areni  Noir. The Karasi is made from the Areni Noir vines that Zorik and Yeraz planted when they decided to invest in a new winery in their ancestral homeland rather than in their dream place, Tuscany, which is much closer to their fashion business in Milan. They bought 15ha in Armenia’s top wine region, Vayotz Dzor, and have been making wine, with the help of Italian consultant Alberto Antonini, since 2010. Karasì in Armenian means “from amphora” and shows that the wines are aged in the traditional manner.

 The Zorah range includes two reds made from Areni Noir grapes and a white being launched this spring

The Zorah range includes two reds made from Areni Noir grapes and a white being launched this spring

The spicier Yeraz 2012 is made from old vines that are growing 1650m up a mountain on their own rootstocks. The wine is made in cement tanks and aged for two years in amphorae. 
Zorik describes his wines as “the purest contemporary expression of this grape variety”.
Voskì is made from four indigenous white varieties in a winery opposite the Areni-1 cave, the recently discovered “world’s oldest winery”, dating back 6,100 years.

 The colourful exhibition halls at Vinitaly are packed with wines from more than 4,000 wineries

The colourful exhibition halls at Vinitaly are packed with wines from more than 4,000 wineries

Vinitaly is not so old but it has been going for 50 years. It is Italy’s premier wine show and showcases the wide breadth of Italian wine. It also introduces the Italians to wines from other major producing countries, such as France, Spain, Australia, Argentina and Portugal, and, of course, the wonders of minnows such as Armenia. 
In total, there will be more than 4,100 exhibitors at the fair. One of the aims of the fair is to help take Italian wine exports from 2015’s €5.4bn to €7.5bn by 2020. That’s why both the president and prime minister of Italy will attend the event. The Minister of Agriculture, Maurizio Martina, will be there too. He said: “We must now move forwards in the awareness that internationalization and expanding exports is the main key for the reorganization and success of the sector.”

THE LATEST ITALIAN WINE FACTS AND FIGURES

  • Number of Italian winemaking companies: about 310,000, 21% of all agricultural companies

  • Employment: 1 million 250 thousand employees throughout the supply chain

  • 2015 production: 47 million hl of wine (+12% compared to 2014)

  • Hectares of vineyards: 637,634 (4% of UAA, Utilised Agricultural Area) – of which 334,000 (52%) DOCG and DOC and 156,000 (24%) IGT

  • Denominations of origin: 73 DOCG, 332 DOC and 118 IGT wines

  • Total value of production (2014): €3.9bn (1.9 DOCG and DOC; 0.8 IGT; 1.2 table wines)

  • Total turnover by winemaking companies (2014): €12.4bn (9.4% of revenues in the agro-food industry and 7.2% of agricultural revenue)

  • Total exports in 2015 (with variations compared to 2014): a record €5.4bn (+5.4% on 2014); 20.1 million hectolitres (-1.8%); average unitary value +7.3%

Source: Wine Observatory, which is promoted by the Italian Wine Union and works under the auspices of Italy’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry policies.

Grüvy lunch at Dinner

We know experimental chef Heston Blumenthal and his team have fantastic taste when it comes to wine. After all, Marjan Simčič’s exquisite dessert wine Leonardo, made in Slovenia from air-dried Rebula grapes, is part of the tasting menu at The Fat Duck in Berkshire, England. So what wine, we wondered, would be served at a corporate lunch at his ‘Dinner by Heston Blumenthal’ in the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London?

This is the Michelin-starred restaurant where the food is inspired by British dishes that are up to 600 years old, so we were expecting mead at the very least. But, when ywine.press gatecrashed a press lunch there (actually a very interesting event explaining why women and men should not be embarrassed about using Tena Lights), we were greeted with a Bollinger rosé. The red wine – a young Merlot and Cabernet Franc dominated Bordeaux – was equally quaffable, and equally unimaginative.

 It may look like a mandarin but it's actually mandarin jelly covering a chicken liver mousse. This dish was inspired by one from c1500

It may look like a mandarin but it's actually mandarin jelly covering a chicken liver mousse. This dish was inspired by one from c1500

The wine we were most excited about was the yellow-coloured white – a Grüner Veltliner from Austria. We had it with our £17.50 starter, the Meat Fruit (chicken liver parfait dipped in mandarin jelly), which has become one of the restaurant’s signature dishes. We also had the Fred Loimer Grüner Veltliner 2014 with our £38 main course, the roast halibut with mussel and seaweed ketchup, salmon roe and sea rosemary.   

 The tasty halibut - but not a lot for £38. This dish was inspired by one from c1830

The tasty halibut - but not a lot for £38. This dish was inspired by one from c1830

It’s a crisp, nicely balanced wine. The aromas and flavours are reminiscent of green apples, pears and citrus fruits. It’s not as peppery as our favourite Grüners but it’s an excellent choice… if you can find it online for £12-£14. Here, the halibut was crying out for something with a wow-factor, like Simčič’s Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, which are designed to show off his vineyards’ mineral-rich ‘opoka’ soil rather than the grapes’ characteristics.

My fellow diners at Dinner seemed happier with their match of Right Bank Bordeaux with Hereford ribeye or powdered duck breast.

 The chocolate bar comes with ginger ice cream and passion fruit jam. The recipe was inspired by a dish from c1730

The chocolate bar comes with ginger ice cream and passion fruit jam. The recipe was inspired by a dish from c1730

We had the Gerard and Chantal Perse red with our chocolate bar dessert (£13.50). Most of the others opted for the signature dessert – a skewer of spit-roasted pineapples served alongside warm sponge cake. We would have gone for this too… if we thought there was any chance of it coming with Simčič’s Leonardo 2008.

Read more about Rebula and its revival in Slovenia here.