Most of the world tends to think of boundaries in terms of nationality. I’m Portuguese. It’s from Germany. The fox is French. The wine world thinks in this way as well. Restaurant lists, wine stores, and importer’s portfolios are organized and separated by country.
Sometimes, though, these distinctions can be useless.
Take, for example, Movia. The winery is officially nestled in the hills of Slovenia. If you want to send Movia a piece of mail (say, a love note), you would jot down a Slovenian address. But, if you ask Ales Kristancic (pronounced alesh chris-stan-zick), the gregarious and charming proprietor of the estate, Movia’s identity, terroir, and juice is not tied to a particular nation. Instead, it’s tied to an appellation.
Perhaps you’ve heard of Collio? An appellation that straddles the border between Italy and Slovenia, Collio is famous for its crisp, lush, and mineral-driven whites: Tocai Friulano, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco, Malvasia, Sauvignon Blanc, Ribolla Giallo.
Ever heard of Brda? Probably not. It is the Slovenian name for Collio. Among the sommelier set, the name has emerged as one of the most promising wine producing regions in the world right now, due in large part to the wines (and the personality) of Ales Kristancic. An outspoken champion of indigenous grape varieties, terroir-driven winemaking, and nothing but the most natural, organic, and biodynamic processes, Kristancic could be called a traditionalist.
He could also, perhaps just as justifiably, be called a radical. He leaves his white wine to age on its lees for up to two years (a looooong time) in 600 liter Slavonian oak casks. He performs his filtering by hand and in a limited manner, as dictated by the atmospheric pressure associated with moon cycles. And — get this — Kristancic bottles one of his sparkling wines undisgorged. This means the bottle arrives in the hands of the consumer with a ball of yeast in its neck. The longer a wine spends with said yeast, the more complexity it is thought to attain; Ales is maximizing this time by releasing bottles that have yet to be disgorged. The consumer must submerge the bottle in water, pop off the cork, and quickly bring the bottle upright. The yeast is released under the water, and the bottle emerges freshly disgorged and ready to be drunk. Oh yeah, you have to store the bottle upside down (try a large mixing glass or something similar) for two days before opening it to condense the yeast.
Crazy? Perhaps. Brilliant? Probably. Effective? Absolutely. The Movia ‘Puro’ (100% Pinot Noir bubbly) is one of the coolest wines the Lushes have tried this year. Yeasty, bready, yet fresh, with piercing minerality, and a mint/ginger spice on the palate. This bottle has not hit the LUSH shelves yet, but look out for ‘Puro’ (and a demo of it being opened!) at our West Town launch party on December 4th.
The Movia wines we have in stock right now include the Quattro Mani ‘Toh-Kai’ 07, a project involving four winemakers making wine from indigenous grapes around the world. I once read this wine described as ‘bizarrely delicious’ and I think nothing could be more apropos. Mint, white chocolate, apricot, menthol, green tea, and lemon peel all intermingle in an odd yet entirely satisfying progression of aromas and flavors. For $13, there may not be a better deal this year.
We also currently have the 04 Veliko Bianco (“Big White”) and the 04 Lunar. Both wines are made with the Ribolla Giallo grape, a native varietal that tends to produce creamy, rich, dry wines with great acidity. In the hands of the right person (ahem, Mr. Kristancic), these wines can be remarkably ageable. The Veliko Bianco is also blended with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, and vinified according to the methods I mentioned above. The nose suggests a certain sweetness: honey, after-dinner mints, tangerine. The palate is dry and fierce, yet not without serious richness. This wine is lifted in a way that’s hard to describe: it’s almost like there is a layer of white flowers and menthol that sits between the wine and your tongue. It’s a pretty incredible sensory experience. Weird, yet utterly delicious and drinkable.
The Lunar is a different beast. 100% Ribolla Giallo. As an experiment, Kristancic wanted to make a wine that had no human intervention except at harvest and at bottling. The grapes were hand selected and then left to their own devices until spring in specially designed barrels. No pressing. No added yeasts. At bottling time, the juice is drawn off its skins using a vacuum and bottled with no sulfur dioxide. What emerges is nothing short of glorious (and nothing short of extreme): a wine that pours a rusty orange color, more reminiscent of beer than it is of wine. A bizarre confluence of tannin (from the extended skin contact), slightly oxidized flavors, rich, ripe fruit, piercing acidity, and residual carbon dioxide, this wine is mind-boggling. Cerebral yet still accessible, this wine will undoubtedly evolve for decades to come.
Join us in exploring this frontier of winemaking. We are very excited to offer these wines at LUSH, and hope that you enjoy them as much as we do .