Vinska Klet Ferdinand
Vinska Klet Ferdinand is in the unique Brda region of Slovenia, nestled between the Adriatic sea, the European Alps and the Italian Friuli, where rolling hills are warmed by the Mediterranean sun during the day and cooled by Alpine breezes at night. The proprietor, Matjaz Cetrtic, is the consummate wine professional applying his meticulous attention to detail to all aspects of production from his vineyards to his wine making where bringing out the full flavors of his grapes is his ultimate goal.
Making very full flavored and refreshing wines is also helped by the geology of Slovenia with its mineral rich soils from the alpine terrain near the wine producing regions. This is particularly so with the winery's Pinot Grigios where a wine that is thought of as a "light and fruity" when produced in alluvial soils in Italy becomes a refreshing and mineral rich wine when produced in Slovenia.
The commitment to excellence is also summed up by Matjaz Cetrtic describing the overall approach:
"We try to understand every vine site and its micro-climate to see which one is best suited for a certain variety and then choosing optimum locations and yields and the best harvest time. This is how we can grow the best grapes and turn them into unique wines in such a spontaneous and natural way."
The Ferdinand vineyards are near the pretty village of Kojsko, where the Brda hills roll into the Slovenian Alps. The vines grow on breathtakingly steep slopes with an eastern and southern view. The vineyards are between 500 and 1,000 feet above sea level and benefit from extreme temperature changes between night and day. Combining a perfect altitude with the special position of the vineyards, the wines produced are harmonious and very fresh. The "opoka" marl soil doesn't allow for high yields and so the wines are full and suitable for longer storage and ageing.
The Ferdinand Terroir does not allow for a lot of machine work. The majority of work is done manually, which allows much better monitoring and quality control for the grape development. Vinification is also meticulous and precise. Grapes are gently pressed and all processes run naturally to preserve the natural properties of the terrain in the wine.
Rainbow over Kojsko
Sunrise in the vineyards
Vines before harvest
Matjaz and Jasmina
Entrance to the cellar (with its state of the art wine making equipment)
Ferdinand produces wines in three styles:
Classici - produced in stainless steel tanks to preserve the original aromas and natural properties of the variety
Epoca - wines are matured in 500 or 225 liter oak barrels for 12 to 24 months "sur lie" using their own natural yeasts. Época means “the period” – and these wines can be aged for longer periods of time. Epoca expresses the mineral character and typical saline character of higher locations near the village of Kojsko.
Brutus - these are rustic, uncompromising, natural wines from selected old vineyards. They are produced with prolonged maceration, no added yeasts, no purification or stabilization, and bottled without filtration.
Our initial introduction of the Ferdinand wines include Classici and Epoca wines. The Brutus wines are very interesting, however, and we will consider including them in the future.
Classici Pinot Grigio 2016
Initial aromas of candied lime, pineapple, honeysuckle, and green apple evolve into flavors of white peaches, a variety of citrus fruits, clover honey, and hints of almonds. Also immediately noticeable is a very refreshing saturated mouth feel where the minerals in the wine delight your taste buds. There is very good balance across the palate, good acidity for lots of food pairings, and but also a feeling of power that definitely separates this from Italian Pinot Grigios. In fact, it would be humorous to do a blind tasting of this with some "experts" as there would probably be some guesses about this being a pretty good Marsanne in a ripe year from the Northern Rhone or maybe even a Meursault.
Food pairings would include sole, crab, shrimp, halibut, trout, creamy seafood dishes, oysters, ceviche, sushi, pork and veal cutlets, grilled and baked chicken, roast turkey, sautéed vegetables, Vietnamese and Thai food, chicken and fish tacos and enchiladas, pasta with cream sauces, hard cheeses, and lots of different salads.
Vinification is with hand-picked grapes which are destemmed, crushed, and gently pressed. The must is cooled to 10°C. After settling for 24 hours, clear must is racked into stainless steel tanks for fermentation, followed by quick decanting to preserve the fruitiness of the wine and preventing malolactic fermentation. The wine is bottled in the summer of the year after the harvest.
Classici Ribolla Gialla 2016
Aromas of white flowers, pineapple, ripe apples, and a hint of citrus evolve into flavors of white peaches, ripe honeydew melon, kiwi, and lychee. There is a very refreshing medium saturated mouthfeel but with a memorable finish that gives the wine a feeling of having even more "weight" and "power." My wife had an interesting comment that the wine could practically be "dinner" for a lot of her friends along with maybe a few almonds or pieces of cheese!
The wine's perfect balance and acidity is also great for lots of food pairings which would include scallops, lobster, sea bass, seafood salads, veal piccata, pork tenderloin, pork cutlets, grilled chicken, creamy Mexican food such as seafood enchiladas, chicken suiza, or pork and chicken verde, Thai food, Chinese Chicken Salad, pasta with pesto, light appetizers, hard cheeses, or, just as a delightful aperitif.
Vinification is with hand-picked grapes which are crushed under low pressure. The must is cooled to 10°C. After settling for 24 hours, clear must is racked into stainless steel tanks for fermentation which is then quickly followed by decanting to preserve the fruitiness of the wine and preventing malolactic fermentation. The wine is bottled in the summer of the year after harvest.
Epoca Pinot Grigio 2016
Aromas are white flowers, honeysuckle, and with hints of lemon, pineapple. honey, cantaloupe, and nectarine. Flavors include honeydew, sweet watermelon, clover honey, ripe nectarine, and hints of vanilla and marzipan. There is a rich saturated medium mouthfeel along with an even deeper and richer finish.
The great balance and refreshing acidity resulted in a lot of food pairing ideas which includes crab, lobster, sea bass, halibut, tuna, salmon, grouper, red snapper, shrimp, clams, grilled veal and pork, pork tenderloin, chicken cordon bleu, creamy curries, seafood enchiladas, chicken suiza, noodles with peanut sauce, pork stir fry, fried rice, Thai and Vietnamese food, Indian Tandoori dishes, cauliflower or potatoes au gratin, cream soups, gazpacho, seafood chowders, sautéed squash, pasta with oil and garlic, risotto, other grain dishes with quinoa or millet, bruschetta, and hard cheeses.
Vinification uses only selected hand-picked grapes which are destemmed and crushed. The grapes are gently pressed and left for settling for 24 hours. Clear must is racked and fermented in 500 and 225 liter oak barrels where the wine is matured on fine lees for another 12 months.
Epoca Ribolla Gialla 2016
Aromas include wildflower honey, peach compote, golden apples, cantaloupe, and some saline hints similar to a good Chablis. Flavors include apple, pear, honeydew melon, papaya, pineapple, and tarragon. Initial perceptions of a medium refreshing mouthfeel then evolve into a big and powerful finish but with perfect balance.
The interesting flavors and perfect acidity created a lot of diverse food pairing ideas which would include grilled salmon, grilled tuna, halibut, shrimp, seabass, veal, pork, Asian pork, chicken, and noodle dishes, creamy curries, creamy vegetables, tomato bisque, sesame noodles, Moroccan food, pasta with cream sauces, seafood salads, and fruit desserts.
Vinification uses selected hand picked grapes which are de-stemmed and crushed. After 20 to 24 hours of cold soak maceration the grapes are gently pressed and left for settling 24 hours. Clear must is racked and fermented in 500 liter oak barrels where the wine matures on fine lees for another 12 months.
Epoca "Rdece" 2013 (red blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon)
This wine shows that there are a lot of interesting places in the world to grow "Bordeaux Varietals" than just in Bordeaux (or Napa Valley!) as this is a beautifully structured and long-lived wine. Initial aromas of violets, cocoa, ripe berries, sesame, licorice, and a hint of vanilla evolve into flavors of cherry jam, blackberry jam, and rosemary but which are kept structured by the wine's perfectly delineated tannins which add to the flavors.
This is also a "big" wine with medium to full mouthfeel but perfectly balanced for many food pairings. Food ideas include Filet Mignon, NY Steak, Roast Beef, short ribs, BBQ ribs, pasta with meat sauce, cassoulet, sausages, charcuterie, paella, shellfish with cream sauces, linguine with clam sauce, grain dishes such as with polenta, risotto, millet, or quinoa, and potatoes au gratin.
Vinification uses hand-picked grapes which are destemmed and left to macerate for two to three weeks. The fermented wine is decanted into 225 liter oak barrels where malolactic fermentation is performed which gives the wine softness and elegance. The wine matures in barrels for at least 18 months before bottling. Aging potential is at least 15 years and possibly over 20 years.
and, a final note about Ribolla Gialla...
Ribolla Gialla, or Rebula as it is known locally, is part of the story of the Brda region. It was brought to Slovenia in Roman times, flourished in the Middle Ages, and has stood the test of time.
With its interesting and specific aromas, lively freshness, and infinite possibilities of interpretation, this variety still has so much potential. With the Rebula signature, Brda could be an instantly recognizable wine brand throughout the world. I find it interesting how similar the Ferdinand Ribolla Giallas are to very good Marsanne/Rousanne blends from the Northern Rhone but with actually a little something extra from the varietal's unique aromas and flavors.