Vehovar and sweet Eastern Slovenia

This is an article from our archives that was previously run on another site in August, 2007.

We cut across the Croatian border to Slovenia to stay with some family there in Slovenska Bistrica. On a previous trip, they had mentioned that their neighbor was a wine maker and that we might be interested to check out his winery. Whether it was fear of someone with a barrel in the garage they aged weekly or just lack of time, we didn’t get to it. This trip however, we made a proper visit to Vehovar Winery and were duly impressed.

The winery is family-run affair with the father, Boris, at the helm. His two sons Sebastian and Isidor showed us around. They started up a new cellar in 1996 that has a 90,000 liter capacity and is 11 meters underground at the deepest point. Unfortunately due to a disastrous hail storm last year, they were only using 12,000 liters of that capacity.

Their white wine production currently consists of Traminec, Riesling, Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Sivi (grey), Rumeni, Muškat, and Šipon. They do an ice harvest as well, but to add to the misery of the hail storm last year, the weather hasn’t been cold enough for the last two years to be a certified ice wine. For the record, in Slovenia, it has to be -10C for four days to qualify. But to liven things up, they have planted 150 new red vines of Modra Frankija (Blaufränkisch) to try out. Of course, these won’t be ready for a good many years, so we’ll have to wait and see how the red does in this region.

The family was gracious enough to take us on a tasting tour of their wines as well while we were there. We started with the 2005 Treh Kraljev (Three Kings) which has some chardonnay notes to the nose. It has a soft body that then clears out in to a similar finish. It’s something of a ‘stolno’ or table wine that’s for general drinking they told us.

From there, it was the Yellow Rumeni Muškat from 2006. It has a great nose. It’s slightly sweet, but still balanced and tasty. With more air, some really nice herbs move in as aromas. This all carries in the body and is very satisfying. The finish is clean and very refreshing.

We took a step back in time with the 1998 Traminec. The nose was strong with soft pear aromas. There was a touch of oakiness to it despite the fact it spent no time in wood. With air, a touch of honey developed in it. As it opened up more, this all carries in to the body which was a good deal sweeter than the nose. The finish had more effervescence to it than the other wines we tasted.

For comparison, we had the 2005 Traminec, which happened to be the Izbor or ‘select’ version of this vintage. It had a rather strong 60 grams of sugar to it that you could easily taste. There was a lot of honey in the nose and the body was very naturally fruit-filled. Despite this, it was definitely a much younger tasting grape even when not comparing it to the 1998. There are however many similarities and it was like all the same flavors are there, but with a good deal of youthful brashness.

We closed with the Laški Riesling Suho Izbor. All of that translates in to a very high quality wine with a massive 165 grams of sugar in it. This also happened to be one of their last ice harvests. It basically boils down to it being outstandingly delicious and one would hope so given that the same grapes used to get 250 liters for this wine usually produce 5,000 liters of a normal wine. The body has this lush oily honey quality to it. The nose is rather light and betrays just a little of the deep quality of the body. The finish is wonderfully clean and washes away all the sugar. A wonderful wine, but it had better be at 40 Euros when all the others are less than 5 Euros!

All in all, it was a great tasting that the next time we visit our family there, we’ll have to add to and see how their other wines are coming along.