Now that many of us have some extra time on our hands to complicate life, love, and wine in the time of the corona virus, one question about wine may have crossed your mind:
Where did wine originate?
If you guessed Italy, and specifically Sicily, you wouldn’t be far from the truth. Wine has been made on that island since 4000 BC.
But even earlier than that wine was made further east, in Georgia. According to Wikipedia, people began making wine there in 6000 BC.
Not quite as old as Georgia, Slovenia is still part of the ancient world of wine and established viticulture between the 4 and 5 centuries BC long before France, Germany and Spain.
Until recently, most wine in Slovenia was made in cooperatives with an emphasis on quantity and not quality. But today, there are some wonderful wines coming out of the region located on the borders of Austria and Italy. The region converges Alpine, Continental and Maritime climate as well as being home to unusual soils that lend a silty minerality to the palate.
If you like northern Italian or Austrian wines, it’s time to give the wines of Slovenia a swirl!
Surprisingly, we had our first taste of Sloveninan wine in Reims, France, where we were challenged by the owner of Au Bon Manger (7 Rue Courmeaux) to guess the type and origin of the red wine he poured into our glasses. We thought it was a pinot noir from northern Italy and it turns out we weren’t that far off — it was a similar grape and grown nearby in Slovenia. If you’re even in Reims, you definitely want to visit this place especially if you appreciate natural, organic and biodynamic wine! The charcuterie is out of this world also! Thanks again to Caroline Henry for bringing us there!
If you’re unfamiliar with Slovenian wine, it’s not surprising as almost all of it is consumed domestically with only 6 million liters of the 90 million produced annually getting exported.
So when Sue and I were at Winehouse LA sometime after, and we were recommended a white wine from Slovenia, I purchased it. With this month’s Wine Pairing Weekend’s focus on Ancient World Wines as hosted by Nicole, and lacking the opportunity I’d expected to go to WineHouse LA specifically for wines from Georgia as I’d hoped, it seemed like a great time to open this bottle, and discover what was under the bottle cap! Georgia will just have to wait!
2017 Crnko “Jarenincan” Stajerska, Slovenia
11.5% alcohol SRP $18
1 liter bottle under cap purchased at the Winehouse LA for $15
Blend of predominantly Laški Rizling (Welschriesling), Sauvignon Blanc, and Rizvanec (MüllerThurgau).
According to the label, Jarenincan is “the village white wine of Jarenina”; 75% of all wine produced in Slovenia is white. In the summer, locals mix it with sparkling water for a refreshing, cooling beverage that’s even lower in alcohol. Winemaker Silvo Crnko and his family sustainably farm their six hectares of Pannonian marl soils along the Austrian border but separated by the Alps. The area was part of Austria until 1918.
In addition to making this white blend, the other half of Crnko’s production is single varietal premium bottlings. They also make sweet wine and a sparkling wine called “Oceanus” that is aged 250 feet under the Adriatic! Now that’s worth traveling to Slovenia to try!
Color: Super pale lemon, platinum gold
Nose: Floral, tuberose, white flower, honey, honeysuckle, bee pollen.
Palate: Florals and fruit up front, lemon drop finish, as well as saline, viscous oily mouthfeel, alcohol seems kind of high, tangerine oil on the finish. Nice acidity and minerality.
Pairing: This wine went from being simple and ho- hum on its own to being a contender with oysters. Sue liked it with the herbal brie. It went well with the fennel sausage. It was also great with the tomato basil goat cheese. Fabulous with the nasturtium pesto which brings out a lovely sweet creaminess to the wine. It loves the caper lemon sauce on the calamari. The two together really brings the wine alive. The pesto brings out the sweet and fruit in the wine. I read that a common pairing with the wine is pumpkin seed oil! Now I wish I’d bought two bottles so that I could try it out with pumpkin seed butter which I have on the shelf — or to add pumpkin seed butter to pasta with some pesto and this wine.
Overall, while not that exciting on its own, this is a really fascinating food wine and a great value considering what it brings to the table.
For more Slovenian wines to try, check out 1000 Corks!
To make nasturtium pesto, use your favorite basil pesto recipe and substitute nasturtium leaves!
In a blender, combine at least 4 large cloves of garlic with 2/3 cup pine nuts and add in over time 7 cups leaves with 1/3 cup oil drizzled in the blender over time. Add more oil by the tablespoon (maybe 2) as needed. Grate parmesan and add along with salt and pepper to taste; we use 1/3 cup and then garnish on the table with flowers and more cheese.
Who else is writing about what this month:
- Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla will be sharing “History on the Table – A Dish from the Hundred Years War Meets Wine from the Land of the Bible: Cassoulet + Tabor Adama Shiraz 2013”
- Wendy of A Day on the Life on the Farm will be enjoying “Clams Tossed in Herbs and Spaghetti with a Santo Assyrtiko”
- Terri of Our Good Life is taken with “Old World Charm: Tifosi Vino Bianco with Olives and Citrus”
- Andrea of The Quirky Cork is sharing “#WinePW and The Ancient Wine Culture of Antioch”
- David of Cooking Chat is “Tasting and Pairing Ancient World Wines”
- Pinny of Chinese Food & Wine Pairings is making the case to “Drink Ancient Saperavi and Eat Modern Family Meals from Chinese Takeouts”
- Linda from My Full Wine Glass discovers “Agiorgitiko: Modern Greek Wine from an Ancient Land”
- Gwendolyn of Wine Predator shares an “Ancient Wine for Modern Times: Slovenia’s Jarenincan and Calamari with Lemon Caper Sauce”
- Cindy of Grape Experiences looks at “Aglianico – An Ancient Variety That Ages Well”
- Susannah of Avvinare will be sipping an “Ancient Wine from Campania- Falerno del Massico”
- Nicole shares “An Armenian Feast with Friends Paired with Armenian Wines: Modern Wines from an Ancient Place” on Somm’s Table.
What we will chat about on Saturday April 11 from 8-9am PST using the hashtag #WinePW.
Our #WinePW chat is about to begin! Get ready to Sip Wines of the Ancient World.
Q1. Welcome to the #winepw Wines of the Ancient World chat. Introduce yourself, tell us where you’re Tweeting from, and share a link to your blog. Visitors welcome too!
Q2. #winepw Wine geeks talk about New World & Old World, but a few countries like Georgia, Armenia, China, Greece, Sicily, and a few in the Middle East have some the earliest evidence of winemaking. Did you taste a wine from any of these places?
Q3. #winepw If you picked a wine from another area, how far back does their wine tradition go?
Q4.Tell us about the wine you chose for this month’s #winepw chat.
Q5. Was this your first time tasting a wine from the region you chose, or were you revisiting a previous discovery? #winepw
Q6. Did you turn up any new discoveries about your Ancient World wine region for this #winepw event? Share any cool tidbits you found.
Q7. Did you pair your wine with food? Was the dish typical of the same region as the wine or elsewhere? #winepw
Q8. How did your wine and food pairing turn out? #winepw
Q9. Are there other food pairings you’d like to try with the wine you tried? #winepw
Q10. Did your wine surprise you in any way? #winepw
Q11. Have you had the chance to travel to the region your wine is from? Share pics if you have! #winepw
Q12. Do you have any final thoughts or questions to share? #winepw
Thanks for joining #winepw in exploring Wines of the Ancient World! We’ll see you next month when we explore orange wines hosted by @Martindredmond!