Just when you think you’ve got a handle on the “important” growing regions of the world, you get a tip on a winery in Slovenia.  I discovered Movia a couple of years ago in New York.  These wines were fairly readily available on wine lists at some of the more interesting restaurants.  I had a lovely Pinot Nero at ICI.  The store where I worked sold the crazy “Lunar” bottling, along with a more sane (?) Ribolla Gialla and their second label Vila Marija Pinot Grigio.  The Pinot Grigio was simple, refreshing, and vibrant with a certain honeydew quality to it.  The Ribolla Gialla was also nice, very floral and mineral.

The Lunar, also made from the Ribolla Gialla grape, is an extraordinary bottle, made with as little human intervention as possible.  The winemaker, Ales Kristancic, picked the grapes (biodynamically grown) and dropped them into the barrel and then never looked back.  The note I wrote at the time was: “A fascinating wine made by allowing whole bunches of grapes to ferment, age, and stabilize without intervention!  The result is a tasty unfiltered and cloudy wine with light tannins and notes of chamomile and cider.”  The wine region Kristancic is working in is called Brda, which is a continuation of the Friulian wine region called Collio.  This makes sense because his Friulian cohort like Josko Gravner and Stanko Radikon are making similar wines.  I love these crazy, cloudy, cider-like wines! They seem ancient, and for good reason.  The methods are likely more similar to Roman winemaking than the current UC Davis regimen.  Gravner actually uses amphorae and buries them in the ground until they are deemed ready.  All three winemakers are allowing skin contact with the grape must, a practice which has been almost completely abandoned for white wines.  The result is that the wines have a gorgeous orange color, and a tannic bite.

They are reminiscent of Eric Bordelet’s excellent ciders from Normandy, one of which I had on Sunday at Dolores Park in San Francisco.  One of my companions described it perfectly by noting the peaty smell and flavor!  It wasn’t hugely popular with the crowd, and even I have to say it was a bit challenging. It was the Sydre Brut bottling, which I’d never had before.  The Doux and the Argellette are a bit more approachable because they have more residual sugar to balance the considerable acid and tannins (they still don’t drink “sweet”).  The Brut has about 5-10 grams of residual sugar, whereas the Doux has 80 grams. He also makes Perry, or Poiré as they say in France, essentially a pear version of cider. Perry and Cider are made in an identical manner to wine.  The base ingredient is fruit, which already has sugar (unlike barley for beer), and is fermented with natural yeast.  Very elegant.  I’m currently aging Bordelet’s higher end Poiré bottling called Granit because when I met him at a tasting he told me it would age well due to the extremely high acidity and the caliber of the the fruit. The pears come from 300 year old trees.