The Tasting Panel magazine

January/February 2015

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30  /  the tasting panel  /  january/february 2015 OVER THE TABLE F ifth-generation Slovenian winemakers Teja and Andrej Erzeticˇ (sister and brother respectively) of Erzeticˇ Winery recently showcased their family's portfolio at a lunch at Faith & Flower in Downtown Los Angeles. Erzeticˇ was founded in 1725 and is situated in the village of Višnjevik, on the western edge of the Goriška Brda district within the Primorska region, where the soils are rich in "Flysh" (sedimentary crumbly rock) and the climate is Mediterranean and Subalpine. The family built a brand new winery in 2007, perched atop a hill at nearly 700 feet in altitude—a stone's throw from Friuli- Venezia Giulia with views of the Alps and the Adriatic Sea. Teja, who speaks the most English, is working on her business and market- ing degree at the University of Ljubljana, while Andrej (who at just 22 has spent time in cellars throughout Luxembourg, Germany, France, Spain and Portugal) has taken over winemaking responsibilities from their father. Today, Slovenia has roughly 16,000 acres under vine (compared to Napa's 45,000 acres), concentrated in three regions: Primorska, Posavje and Podravje. But as recently as the 1950s, all grape-growers were forced to sell to a coop- erative under the Socialist government. "Our grandfather rebelled," said Teja. The government harassed them in various ways but never took their land or forced them to sell their grapes to the cooperative. They continued to make wine for local villagers and the family. Since the 1400s when Venice claimed the region, wars have wreaked havoc on Slovenian identity. Border re-drawings from WWI through WWII meant that Teja and Andrej's grandparents (without physically moving) lived in "Austria, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary, were occupied by Italy during WWI, then became a neutral area after WWII and, in 1947, a new border meant they were back in Slovenia but were now part of Yugoslavia," Teja explained. "So what nationality are they?" asked Mark E. Ryavec, former Honorary Consul General of Slovenia, who attended the luncheon, adding, "The Austrian Empire stretched all the way down to Parma and this area was always populated by Slovenes, not Italians; they've always spoken Slovene—that's their identity." Through it all, the Erzeticˇ family produced and is still producing lovely wines from their town's native Rebula grape (Ribolla Gialla) as well as superb Georgian clay amphora–aged wines. Annual production hovers around 5,600 cases and Katy Bendel of Old World Vines is the exclusive importer. Through Thick and Thin Erzeticˇ 2013 Damski Rosé ($23) Light strawberry color with orange flecks, gorgeous holiday spiced nose, medium bodied, off-dry boasting red berry notes, clean and crisp finish. 100% Merlot. Erzeticˇ 2013 Rebula ($23) A dry, pale yellow wine of bright citrus zest, medium body, pear apples and touch of creaminess. 100% Rebula. Erzeticˇ 2012 Sivi Pinot ($48) Vivid orange color, this Amphora style offers slightly nutty notes, candied orange peel and charred aromas; full bodied, richly textured with over- ripe citrus, oak and creamy character, Mediterranean herb notes and a lingering chalky finish. 100% Pinot Gris. Erzeticˇ 2008 Rdecé ($44) This amphora- aged wine is dark ruby in color with dark berry fruit and earthy aromas, full bodied and redolent of black raspberry, blackberry spice, stony and salty notes and black licorice on a lovely finish. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Merlot. Teja (right) and Andrej Erzeticˇ of Slovenia's Erzeticˇ Winery at Faith & Flower in Los Angeles. DESPITE THE VAGARIES OF HISTORY, VENERABLE ERZETIC ˇ WINERY IS BRINGING SLOVENIAN WINES TO THE FOREFRONT story and photo by Jonathan Cristaldi

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