It's been five years since my first trip to Slovenia, a country I now know better than my own. (Not hard: Slovenia is 7,827 square miles—half the size of Switzerland or roughly the size of New Jersey.)
One of the first things you discover about Slovenia—whether you're in Ljubljana or a mountain hamlet—is that this is a country with an established wine culture. At every restaurant, you are offered a sparkling white wine called zlata penina before your appetizer arrives and your waiter then expects you to order a bottle of Veliko Rosso (a full-bodied red) or Tocai (a fruity white) to have with your meal. There are three wine regions and 40,000 registered wineries, according to the Oxford Companion to Wine. As Alder Yarrow says on his blog Vinography, that's probably why Slovenian wines are so off the radar in the rest of the world. ("Most producers are so small that they wouldn't have enough wine to sell on the global market even if they could afford to get it there.")
Yet that is not true of one of our favorites, Movia, which can be found at some of the better wine shops and restaurants across the U.S. This is wholly due to the tireless (and some would say obsessive) efforts of Aleš Kristanic, Movia's maverick, passionate owner, who travels constantly to promote his somewhat esoteric biodynamic wines to the rest of the world. When we dropped by his villa in the Brda Hills (on the border of Italy's Friuli region) several years ago, we met a half-dozen fascinating people—some of whom we're still in touch with—including a woman from Tokyo who distributes Movia in Japan.
I'm thinking of Movia lately because we plan to crack open a bottle of "Lunar" tonight as well as a bottle of "Puro"—both unusual biodynamic wines that are Aleš's babies. (We couldn't get our hands on a plain old bottle of zlata penina.) I tasted Lunar, an unfiltered wine that's bottled during the full moon (and has absolutely zero sulfites), a few months back when I ran into Aleš at my local wine shop, Uva. It's a very unusual wine—orange in color and a bit cloudy, with hints of cider and orange blossom. (To see a typical scene of Aleš doing his best to explain Lunar, see this video.)
Michael trying to loosen the cork on the Puro.
Puro is an "undisgorged" sparkling white (meaning the sediment from the grape is aged with the wine) that will require a little work on our part. It has a plug of yeast in the neck of the bottle; Michael has already turned it upside down and we will transfer it to an ice bucket—still upside down—twenty minutes before we open it so the yeasty part will freeze into an easily removable "plug." It sounds, as my dad just remarked, like this wine needs a midwife!
"When you finally get it in your glass," says Yarrow, in his tasting notes about the Puro, "it is a slightly cloudy, pale gold color, with a nose of toasted brioche and brewers yeast. In the mouth it is beautifully crisp and very mineral with a honeyed quality that plays counterpoint to the calcium quality of the wine." Aleš believes the sediment is the soul of the wine and to filter it out long before opening would lessen the wine's integrity. We hope a little of that soul—and Aleš's lunar magic—comes through, bringing a little bit of Slovenia into our Brooklyn living room.