The 2008 Lanthieri Zelen
It’s already some time ago that our firneds Lucia and Giuseppe brought us the above bottle of Slovenian wine. They said, “put it back fro a special occasion”, which we did. But this splendid Sunday warranted a special treat.
To say it from the outset, the ‘2008 Lanthieri Zelen’ by Agroind Vipava 1894, a wine co-operative in the Vipava valley, is a wonderful wine. It was our first wine from Slovenia ever, a complete novelty to us.
Zelen is an autochthonous grape variety from the Upper Vipava Valley in Slovenia. The Lanthieri brand is reminiscent of the Lanthieri family, noblemen in the region, valley and town of Vipava, also called the Slovene Venice.
The Vipava wine road is going through the valley where viticulture is the main rural business. About 3,000 acres are under vines. The region is home to some very old, indigenous varieties which cannot be found elsewhere, for instance Zelen, Pinela, Klarnica and Pikolit.
The history of wine-making in the Vipava valley is interesting. It reminds me a bit of our own history in my home town Trier. Also in the Vipava valley, the Celts and Illyrian tribes cultivated grapes long before the Romans arrived. This is also true for my own tribe, the Treverer, in the Mosel river valley.
The back label in Slovenian
The wine has a light-yellow colour and seems to be an aromatic type of wine. Floral notes of mediterranean herbs such as lavender and rosemary can be detected. Very dominant, however, is the dried-apricot taste, very lovely and very unusual, I found. The wine has structure and is well balanced, fresh and zippy.
Spicy clam pasta
We enjoyed it with a spicy, clam pasta. The wine was “strong” enough to not “go down” with the red peppers, but, instead, held itself very well. I am sure we will not find any wine from Slovenia in Bangkok wine shops. I guess we have to visit Slovenia and detect its treasures during our next trip to Europe.
Thank you Lucia and Giuseppe for giving us this wonderful gift. We apprecite your generosity and we know how heavy wine bottles are.
I think Slovenia might have the potential to become the “wine Mekka” of tomorrow.
I always enjoy reading your reports. Interesting how you combine living overseas with a strong sense of belonging to your Heimat. The glue bridging the distance seems to be your love for wine, in particular the Mosel Riesling.
It’s also nice to see that you are always open to make new discoveries like in this case to drink a Slovenian Zelen. You’ll be surprised to know that this exotic sounding grape is actually very close to home: a Sylvaner. One of the few places providing information about this rare Slovenian grape is Jancis Robinson’s web site: http://bit.ly/6WCKwn
Zum Wohl und mit den besten Gruessen aus California.
Thanks a lot Frank for your comments also for the hint. I searched the net for “Zelen” but Sylvaner did not come up. The wine did not taste like Sylvaner I had drunk before. My grandfather made me taste a lot of “Franken Wein” (wine from Franconia) but the Slovenian Zelen tasted quite different. More things to explore, I guess. Cheers