You don't have to be a connoisseur to enjoy a Wine Scene Investigations Tour, but we're guessing that you appreciate good wine and will want to try something new and exciting. Here's some background information about what you can expect to taste.
Wine's been made in Slovenia since before Roman times. You may remember it as the home of the mass produced, rather cheap and nasty, Lutomer Laški Rizling popular in the 70's and 80's when Slovenia was part of the former Yugoslavia. Those days are well and truly behind them and what is produced in today's Slovenia is of a very high standard indeed. Relatively rare on UK supermarket shelves, it seems that the best wines stay in Slovenia. In fact, around 70% of the wine produced in Slovenia is consumed there.
Slovenia produces predominantly white wines. Of their 52 grape varieties, 37 are white and 15 are red. 70% of wines are white and 30% are red, of which nearly 75% meet the criteria for quality and premium wine designation. The rest are table wines.
Austria was voted as the 2016 best wine travel destination in Europe* and once you've visited, you'll understand why. Stunningly beautiful with equally stunning wines.
Austria's off the radar for a lot of UK consumers. It doesn't make that much wine and, like Slovenia, the domestic market happily drinks the majority of it. The Grüner Veltliner grape is the most widely planted and produces refreshing, tangy wines with a little white pepper undertone. It is very food friendly and is becoming increasingly recognised by sommeliers because of this. Riesling is second to this: dry in style, fruity too! In Styria, where we visit, they produce excellent Sauvignon Blanc, Welschriesling (a semi dry variety), Pinot Blanc and Gelber Muskateller - a very old variety which can be made dry or sweet. As in Slovenia, reds here are less common, accounting for around 30% of production, made from Bläufrankisch (deep wood berry or cherry notes), Zweigelt (full bodied with tones of Morello cherry), Pinot Noir and St Laurent (dark, sturdy and fruity with Morello cherry notes).
*January 2016 Travvy Awards (the Academy awards of the American Travel Industry)
Croatia is a significant wine producing country but unfortunately lacks a developed export market thus making it difficult to find on the UK high street. Croatian wine has a history dating back to Greek times and like other old world wine producers, many traditional grape varieties are still grown today.
There are two main wine regions - Coastal, which thrives from the glowing heat of the Adriatic, and Continental with long hot summers and cold winters. Each of these regions is divided into sub regions giving altogether more than 300 geographically defined wine districts.
Wine Scene Investigations visit the Continental region - the wine area of Medimurje and Varaždin. Varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat thrive here.
Internationally known white grape varieties grown are Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Chardonnay. In the red department, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Blaufrankisch are grown. Local wines are Laski Riesling, Šipon, Rumeni Muškat (Yellow Muscat) and Malvazija in whites and Refošk in red. These translate into easy drinking fresh, crisp and dry whites, some sweeter wines as well as richer, late harvest styles. Slovenia produces some top-notch fizz too. Red wines are less popular although some great quality ones can be found. They tend to be lighter bodied with cherry characteristics, perfect for outdoor quaffing.
The Graševina variety is widely planted, it is light, crisp, refreshing and mildly aromatic. Traminac, unlike its more Northern cousin, Gewurztraminer, can be dry or semi dry which makes it quite special. Frankovka produces a light red which is extremely fruity.