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 expression of his grapes is his ultimate goal.
Making very fully expressive 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 describing his 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
The new winery
The new hospitality area
The new cellar (with its state of the art wine making equipment)
Matjaz and Jasmina
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 2019 (OF)
Aromas are of citrus blossoms, Meyer lemon, pink grapefruit, honeysuckle, lilac, white flowers, and hints of fresh cut pear. Flavors include ripe honeydew melon, cantaloupe, and white peaches along with hints of pineapple and kiwi. Between the aromas and the flavors, there are definitely a lot of fun and interesting things going on with this wine! Its many dimensions also extend to the body where the initial entry feels medium but there is then a full and saturated finish along with perfect balance and acidity.
Food pairings would include sole, halibut, swordfish, steamed clams, crab cakes, seafood pasta and salads, veal, pork, chicken, roasted turkey, Asian pork, chicken, and vegetable stir frys, Asian vegetable salads and noodle dishes, anything with sesame or peanut based sauces, mild and creamy curries, creamy Mexican food, chili verde, pasta with creamy or spicy sauces, spicy or creamy soups, charcuterie, and mild to medium cheeses.
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 2019 (OF)
Aromas are of white flowers, honeysuckle, clover honey, and jasmine along with a full spectrum of citrusy accents. Flavors include ripe honeydew melon, rich pear, golden delicious and pink lady apples, hints of pineapple and ripe peaches, and an interesting mix of “nutty” hints such as from almonds, pecans, and hazelnuts. As with other Ferdinand wines, the body seems medium at first along with always present good balance and acidity but then by the finish, you are struck with a much fuller and fully saturated finish.
Food pairings would include sole, halibut, shrimp, branzino, swordfish, steamed clams and mussels, seafood pasta and salads, veal, pork, chicken, Asian pork, chicken, and vegetable stir frys, Asian vegetable salads and noodle dishes, chicken and pork enchiladas, creamy vegetable dishes, vegetarian food in general, green salads, and a full array of cheeses including mild, rich, and soft.
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.
Classici Malvasia 2019 (OF)
Aromas include gardenia, wildflower honey, pine straw, honeydew melon, pear, and wet granite. Flavors include cantaloupe, cherries, ripe strawberries, white peaches, and a hint of pear. There is a medium to full body, perfect balance and acidity, and a full and refreshing finish.
Food pairings would include halibut, branzino, red snapper, swordfish, tuna, bluefish, clams, mussels, octopus and squid, seafood pasta and salads, veal, chicken, pate, pork and chicken enchiladas, chili verde, Asian noodle dishes, creamy yellow curries, and a wide array of cheeses including mild, medium, soft, and blue.
Epoca Pinot Grigio 2016 (OF, NF)
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 (OF, NF)
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 (OF, NF)
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 blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon 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.