"And if the great terroirs wine had not all been discovered?" The only global wine inventory ever made - 3 years of travel to discover the 92 wine producing countries in the world - Yes 92 ! And share it with You
Welcome to Jordan. A magnificent territory, where for only a few decades, two estates have been reviving a wine industry that has disappeared for nearly 2000 years. A very interesting return to the front of the world wine stage.
MAFRAQ, A VITICULTURE COMING FROM THE NORTH
Although Jordan is not yet well known for its modern viticulture, which appeared less than 30 years ago, its wines already look promising. Like those of Saint-George estate (Zumot Company), located in the Mafraq region, 45 minutes north of Amman, along the Syrian border ; where the Zumot family was able to identify parcels of land suitable for growing vines, in order to plant 220 hectares in 1996.
Sandy-loam soils with old decomposed rocks, culminating at 620m above sea level, which we visited under a blazing sun. The stage was set. Despite the heat, the vines grow here with an impressive energy.
Omar Zumot, who has studied and practiced winemaking in France and who has been managing the cellar since the company’s conception, believes strongly in the potential of Jordanian wine. “The wine in Jordan dates back to 2000 years before Christ. It has just been completely lost for centuries“, he explained, smiling.
Continuation of the visit with a memorable tasting in the cellars of Saint-George winery, in Sahab, 30km north of Amman. We met Iva Boyuklieva, an oenologist from Bulgaria, as enthusiastic as pedagogue and who has been leading the winery for 11 years. “It’s not always easy to find your place in this universe when you’re a woman ; but working for Saint-George is a chance: a unique opportunity to be able to vinify about thirty grape varieties“, she said.
Continuous learning and a communicative passion for wine, which has trained us, barrel after barrel, to taste not far from forty wines!
A fantastic experience and the opportunity to see that varieties such as Merlot, Petit Verdot, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon can produce wines with great freshness in Jordan. We even met “the man who can take the wine from the barrel by doing kung fu”! So cool.
WHEN THE SNOW OF THE MOUNTAINS MEETS THE DESERT OF BASALTE
With more than 330 days of sunshine a year, dry summers and constant breezes, the Jordanian climate seems to be suitable for growing grapes ; under irrigation, of course.
JR Wines – aka Jordan River Wines – was the first winery established in Jordan in 1953 by the Haddad family (owner of the Eagle Distilleries Group), with the desire to revive the wine industry in the country. “Wine has been made in Jordan since biblical times. It was important for us to reconnect with this tradition, too long forgotten, by looking for terroirs favorable to viticulture“, Nasri Haddad, the technical director and oenologist of the group explained.
In 2004, JR Wines planted 120 hectares of vines, also on the Mafraq plateau, at 840 meters above sea level.
We learned that in Antiquity, a volcano – now extinct – has poured basaltic lava fields on the mountains, making this region one of the most fertile in Jordan. “Add to that the snow of the mountains in winter, which allows us to irrigate the vines, and you have there the keys to the success of viticulture in full renewal“, Nasri Haddad added. A small miracle of nature, in the middle of the desert.
There are some 45 grape varieties grown on the estate, mainly from France, Italy and Spain. Important research for the future of the Jordanian wine industry, where each parcel is carefully studied, in order to identify the grape varieties that will best adapt to this part of the world. The results are already very promising.
And the JR Wines estate continues to innovate, as it is about to send some of its wines to Spain (Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon), to age them in temperature-controlled tanks filled with seawater (2). Just to see how Jordanian wines could behave with such ageing. Case to follow.
CONCLUDE ON A MANSAF, OR NOTHING
Have you ever lived a Mansaf (3)? Yes, I say lived, and not eaten, so the experience is unique. It is a national dish with thousands of flavors, consisting of lamb cooked in a fermented yogurt sauce and served with rice and almonds.
It is eaten standing, using only the right hand to grab the food, after making small balls of food between your fingers. We were lucky enough to be invited to share this incredible dish at Omar Zumot’s place, the director of Saint George. Pour a few glasses of Arak… and you’re in paradise!
Thank you to Saint-George and JR Wines for their warm welcome. And thank you to Alizée Raymond and her husband Guillaume for hosting us so kindly in Amman.
(1) Cereals such as barley or wheat, fruit trees and vines were probably cultivated in Petra. Presses dug in the rocks were found, probably dating from the period of Roman domination, when great importance was given to the wine. The Romans settled in Petra from the year 64 BC. It is believed that wine was produced there more than 2000 years ago.
(2) Program carried out via a joint venture with the Sea Aged Wine Group.
(3) The name Mansaf comes from the term “big plate” or “big dish”. It is usually prepared for the whole family. It can also be found in Palestine and Iraq.
“Palestine was rich in vineyards long before Europe, and wine was produced here in all parts of the country”. It was with these words, filled with joy and a deep love for this great welcoming land, that we were receive by Sari Khoury, winemaker and founder of the Philokalia estate, at the gates of Bethlehem.
THE OLIVE, THE VINEYARD AND THE WHEAT
I was looking forward to visiting Palestine. I have always wanted to visit here. This viticultural home full of promise fascinates me. A millenary terroir for the vine – less known than the Caucasus region, for example – but where wine and olive oil were already exported to Egypt 6000 years ago, for their recognized qualities. Which means that wine existed here before.
“The olive tree, the vine and the wheat have been domesticated for 7000 years in Palestine, especially in the Jordan Valley, where these plants did not grow naturally before“, according to Nasser Soumi, Palestinian artist and writer, who designs the labels of Philokalia.
The agricultural history of the country is great, as is the history of wine, full of forgotten native grape varieties, real treasures of the local wine heritage.
Today, there are a dozen small estates in Palestine, half of which would market their wines. We set our sights on the most promising of them.
PHILOKALIA, FROM DREAM TO REALITY
Revive the Palestinian vineyard through forgotten indigenous grape varieties. A very nice idea. This was originally the dream of two men : Nasser Soumi, recognized for his historical work on wine in Palestine, and Pascal Frissant, a French winemaker established in the Loire and Languedoc.
“They shared this dream for almost 30 years. It only remained to find the person who would want to carry this project at arm’s length. I decided to make it a reality in my hometown“, Sari Khoury explained with stars in his eyes.
Sari was born and raised in Palestine. He studied architecture in the United States, then in Paris, at the School of Ponts et Chaussées, before becoming a renowned architect, in his country and abroad.
If he puts on a winegrower’s hat for part of the year, it’s first of all for the love of wine and his country. “I like to explore the unknown with these forgotten grape varieties, and at the same time discover a little more of my own culture“. Although Sari has become a winemaker only recently (it’s his 3rd vintage), he knew exactly where he was heading from the start. He has chosen to call his project Philokalia, which translates into the love of beauty, the love of good. All a symbol.
WORKING WITH CONSCIENTIOUS FARMERS
The vineyards with which Sari works are located in the Bethlehem/Hebron region, between 870 and 930 meters above sea level, and seem to harbor an invaluable cultural heritage.
Recent genetic tests have revealed about 23 endemic varieties, just in this region, with more research to be done in the future.
Sari surrounded himself by only a handful of farmers, chosen for very specific reasons. For their techniques of ancestral viticultural culture, undocumented and transmitted orally, first of all, but also for the autochthonous varieties that they cultivate. “I develop my wines exclusively with native grapes, on old ungrafted vines“.
Sari also pays farmers in advance, to develop a long-term relationship of trust with them.
In a country with permanent instability, where land can be confiscated overnight and for no apparent reason, it is also a way to help one another and to view the future together in a positive light. “The sooner the financial aspect is settled, the sooner we can focus on the production and quality of the grapes“, Sari summarized.
Strolling through centuries-old vines, growing naturally in goblet on soils untouched by any treatment, in the middle of older olive trees, I realized how ingenious this ancestral system was.
The vine, with its protective foliage, adapts perfectly to the arid climatic conditions of Palestine, where it is impossible to irrigate. In the end, some grapes will be more ripe than others during the harvest.
And it is this natural balance between the over-ripeness of some grapes on one side and the acidity of some greener grapes on the other, which will give the wine its complexity, texture and unique character. Beautiful.
THE BLACK JARRES OF BETHLEHEM
Entering the garage of Sari’s family house in Bethlehem, where he built the cellar of the Philokalia estate and in which a few hundred liters of wine sleeps, gave me immense happiness. Everything here is thought of with simplicity and ingenuity.
“My goal is to work using black jars for both the fermentation and the aging of the native Palestinian grape varieties I use, in order to preserve the balance between these wines and the local cuisine, too spicy for barrel-aged wines“.
I wondered, however : why use black jars? “In the past, wine and olive oil were kept in black jars like these. It’s made from the same earth and the same material as the classic jars.
Except that the temparature during its production differs from the classic jars: instead of 800°C, it rises up to 1100°C, which significantly reduces the porosity of the jar and gives it an excellent seal, offering the wine natural protection against oxidation“.
The results are incredible. No doubt, Philokalia is on the right track and puts Palestine more than ever on the world wine map!
Palestine is a wonderful land, full of hope, humanity and promise, notably with wine.
The potential for great wines is undeniable, especially if they are made from indigenous grape varieties, whose names are for the moment a carefully kept secret. This is normal. Palestine, we will be back soon. For your welcome and your good wines.
Thank you to Sari Khoury and his family for their warm welcome. Thank you also to Nasser Soumi for welcoming me to his home in Paris to tell me more about the history of wine in Palestine. Finally, thank you to Clément Marcorelles, for having so kindly put me in touch with Sari Khoury a few years ago. The world is beautiful and we are all brothers, with the same rights.
Welcome to Israel, land of wine since ancient times. A vineyard in full change over the past twenty-five years, where dozens of small cellars emerge, producing a few thousand bottles each, alongside a handful of giants, which dominate the industry.
FROM THE SHADOW TO THE LIGHT
The Israeli vineyard dates back far. In the middle of the seventh century, the Muslim conquest marked a brutal stop for viticulture, for more than 1,200 years. It was only from the end of the 19th century, in 1882 to be exact, that the culture of the vineyard restarted under the impulse of a Frenchman, the Baron Edmond de Rothschild (château Lafite).
Divided into five regions – with Galilee to the north, the Judean Hills, surrounding the city of Jerusalem, Samson, located between the Judean hills and the coastal plain, the Negev to the south (semi-arid desert region) and the plain of Sharon, near the Mediterranean coast – the wine industry in Israel has developed a lot in terms of quality since the 80s. Previously, there were only about fifteen players. Currently, it is estimated that around 250 wineries exist in Israel. Although 5 large producers still dominate the Israeli wine landscape, accounting for more than 80% of the total production.
RECANATI WINERY, THE BEAUTIFUL ASCENT
Founded in 2000 by Lenny Recanati and Uri Shaked, the Recanati estate is one of those soaring vineyards that in just a few years has managed to make a name for itself on the international market.
The winery, located an hour north of Tel Aviv, works with 90 hectares of vineyards under contract across the country, on some of the most beautiful terroirs, such as the Golan Heights and the Judean Hills. Recognized for working with Mediterranean grape varieties such as PetiteSirah, Marselan and Carignan, Recanati also relies on international varieties such as CabernetSauvignon, SauvignonBlanc, Chardonnay and CheninBlanc, which appeared in Israel in the 1970s-80s.
In the company of Gil Shatsberg, the chief-winemaker and vice-President of the estate, we visited a new plot of 3 hectares, planted by Recanati a year ago in the north of the country, less than 1km from the Lebanese border and only 15 km from the sea.
A beautiful place at 650m altitude, with a cool breeze coming from the sea and where Recanati planted the local varieties Argaman (red) and Marawi (white). We are already longing to taste the result of this new production!
TZORA VINEYARDS, THE ART OF BLENDING
Established in 1996 in the Judean Hills, west of Jerusalem, Tzora Vineyards is a key estate of Israel. Located at an altitude of 700 meters, this 20-hectare vineyard is surprising.
I felt a great energy from the soil there, consisting of very old fossil stones. It has been divided into meso-climates. A methodical process which has allowed the recognizion of different soils on the same site, in order to plant the right varieties in the right place : Syrah, CabernetSauvignon, Merlot, PetitVerdot, SauvignonBlanc and Chardonnay (there is even a touch of Gewürztraminer).
“I believe in international grape blends“, Eran Pick MW, the winemaker and estate manager, who excels in this exercise, confessed.
A meticulous art in collaboration with the French consultant Jean-Claude Berrouet (formerly Petrus’ technical director). The result : beautiful and elegant wines with a lot of freshness, depth and balance, even for white wines. Superb!
A NEW WAVE OF WINEMAKERS
We talked about it in the preamble, the Israeli vineyard has seen many talents emerging in recent years. Small ventures for the most part, which do not lack ideas.
As at Kadma, a family estate as small as it is charming, established in 2010 in Kfar Uriah, in the foothills of Judea. It is currently the only winery in Israel to use large clay jars in the wine production process, made in Georgia (not to be confused with Georgian amphoras, named qvevri, which are buried in the ground).
A lovely winery which is the result of extensive research, in collaboration with Professor Amos Hadas (author of Vine and Wine in the Archeology of Ancient Israel) and Dr. Arkadi Papikian, a recognized Israeli wine producer.
“The fermentation in these clay jars gives the wine unique aromas and flavors“, Lina Slutzkin, the founder and owner of Kadma explained: resin, tobacco, black fruit and exotic woods. Fresh and juicy wines that go well with local grilled meat. The Israeli vineyard has not finished surprising us.
The goal now is to understand what will be the next stage in the development of this booming wine industry of incredible potential. Investing in native grape varieties, to give more identity to the local vineyard, could be one of the keys.
“As far as I know, the main objective is to educate young Israelis to love wine, so that the industry has a solid future to rely on“, Itay Gleitman, journalist at Haaretz said. To follow closely.
Thank you to Recanati, Tzora Vineyards and Kadma, for their warm welcome. Finally, thanks to Haaretz journalist Itay Gleitman for this valuable information about the Israeli vineyard.
From the ruins of Byblos (one of the oldest cities in the world continuously inhabited), through the enigmatic cedar forest, Beirut’s thrilling nightlife, or the picturesque charm of mountain villages. Not to mention the vineyards, from north to south, lovingly shaped by the hand of man, I literally fell in love with Lebanon.
Discovery of one of the oldest vineyard cultures, with indisputable terroirs and many native grape varieties. A country that has proudly risen after many wars and now produces 8.5 million bottles a year from 2,000 hectares. A “small” but recognized vineyard, 90% of which is concentrated in the Bekaa Valley. And in addition, one of the most beautiful ones in the Mediterranean… or even in the world.
The indigenous grape varieties, the future of the Lebanese vineyard
Thanks to the vine cultivation in Lebanon for ages (since around 7000 BC), indigenous grape varieties are innumerable in the country.
Legend has it that Noah, whose tomb is in the mosque of Kerak (Bekaa), stopped on Mount Sannine and planted vines there. However, due to a lack of preservation of these grape varieties, “we are still experimenting with wine”, Fabrice Guiberteau, from Château Kefraya, who is actively working to revive many missing grape varieties, said.
Two white grape varieties, however, Merwah and Obeidi, traditionally used in the production of arak (an aniseed wine brandy), seem to play their part.
“These grapes have incredible aromatic profiles and deserve to be vinified. They represent the identity and the future of the Lebanese vineyard”, Maher Harb, from Sept Winery explained.
These delicious grapes, can be found for example in the top white wine cuvée of Château Musar. “Here, the wines spend up to 7 years in bottles before going on the market for our top cuvées”, Gaston Hochar, one of the two sons of Serge Hochar, who took over the torch, confided us.
The visit of the cellar, dug in the rock under the domain, was a real spectacle in itself. Long alleys, as far as the eye can see, filled with wine treasures!
Sept Winery : never stop dreaming…
One Sunday, last October, I discovered with happiness Sept Winery, the estate of my friend Maher Harb, a young winemaker on the Lebanese scene and already so talented.
With one hectare of vines at the moment, planted by Maher in the village of Nehla, in northern Lebanon (Batroun region), to reconnect with his roots. Portrait of a self-taught man who struggles to breathe new life into Lebanese viticulture – and who, objectively speaking, all friendship and emotional judgment put aside – most certainly represents the future of wine in Lebanon.
In 2009, while he was a consultant in Paris in the banking sector, he saw himself in the reflection of the window of the metro line 13, clumped by the crowd, in his suit, like a sardine trapped in a box.
The electroshock. He left everything and returned to his country: with the desire to reconnect with nature. At the end of 2011, he planted 1 hectare of vines (mainly Grenache, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon) in extreme winter weather conditions.
No choice at the time : he just received his vines and had to plant them before leaving for two years to Saudi Arabia, in order to save some money to realize his dream of becoming a winemaker. In 2014, he traveled around the world of wine with the OIV MSc (the master of the OIV(1)) and returned in 2016, full of ideas with a lighter spirit, for his first vintage.
I tasted his wines. Incredible. Full of fruit, freshness (remarkable for Lebanon) and already very promissing… It just shows you must never stop dreaming.
Château Kefraya, on the Yammouneh seismic fault
For many years, I have been waiting impatiently to visit Château Kefraya. Why? Because it is one of the major wine estates of Lebanon. Because its 300 hectares of terraced vineyards, 1000 meters above the Mediterranean Sea, on the foothills of Mount Barouk, in the Bekaa Valley, have always made me dream.
Because I had the opportunity to taste the wines of the estate several times in the past. And I must admit that vintage after vintage, the wines become more and more elegant.
But as you know, tasting a wine at home and understanding it deeply by visiting the estate itself are two very different things. And I was even more impressed to discover, feel and touch this large mosaic of soils : clay-limestone, sandy and gravelly soils, combined with an exceptional solar exposure, all without any irrigation.
“The vineyards of Château Kefraya are located on the Yammouneh fault (the Great African Break in Lebanon), in the extreme south of the Bekaa, resulting in unique weather in Lebanon, with 1000mm of rain a year and more moderate temperatures than elsewhere in the country”, Fabrice Guiberteau, the winemaker of the estate explained. Probably one of the most beautiful terroirs in the world. Everything to make great wines.
The Bekaa, a breathtaking panorama
Looking for the “best view of the Bekaa Valley”?! We found it for you! At the top of the Château Qanafar, a property of 17 hectares planted at 1200m altitude, you can admire the beauty of the Bekaa Valley as a whole.
An incredible landscape and a beautiful way to understand the uniqueness of this wine region. Eddy Naim, the oenologist, who took over the work from his father in 2011, explained how the construction of the current winery (still in progress) had begun.
“We invested everything we had for the construction of this place, because we wanted the best for our production. We started small. In a garage in the city center.
Then we had to extend, because we got a little bigger. We rented a second small garage next to the first one. Then production increased again and we had to rent a third one… Then a fourth!
Finally, it was a critical size and we decided to create our own winery“. We stopped at the old cellar. Amazing to see the evolution of the estate in just a few years. Conclusion: if you ever create your winery, never start too big. Be patient, like Eddy, otherwise you could burn your wings.
And best of all, the wines of Château Qanafar are delicious. Like the 2013 Syrah… An explosion of gluttony!
Conclusion with Château Marsyas
We ended our stay in Lebanon by visiting the Château Marsyas. Quoted by Pliny the Elder, “Marsyas” is the ancient name of the Bekaa valley, located on the foothills of Mount Lebanon.
Perched at an altitude of 900m, the domain is the initiative of the Johnny R. Saadé family, also owner of Bargylus, in Syria (which we hope to have the pleasure to visit one day!).
The red soils that we see here show the presence of iron and white stones forming a very nice clay-limestone profile, favorable to the vine, on which Cabernet sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot in red, as well as Sauvignon blanc and Chardonnay in white are planted.
The cuvée Château Marsyas Blanc 2014 (Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay), a wine full of freshness, with citrus and ripe white fruit aromas was a nice discovery.
It is impossible to close this Lebanese chapter without mentioning Vinifest, the annual Lebanese wine fair, held at the Beirut racecourse every year at the end of October. Three evenings of festivities around wine, where each guest has the possibility, for a very reasonable entrance ticket (<$ 30), to be able to taste all the Lebanese wines present ; a vast majority of wineries.
An incredible organization, a large and conquered public, talented winemakers and the testimony of a real craze for wine in Lebanon! A question now animates me : when will I be able to return to Lebanon? I already miss the country…
Thank you to ChâteauMusar, Sept Winery, ChâteauKefraya, ChâteauQanafar and Château Marsyas for their warm welcome. Special thanks to Fabrice Guiberteau from ChâteauKefraya, for his invaluable help during our stay. Finally, a huge thank you to Maher Harb, from SeptWinery, for having accompanied us throughout this trip and for having shared so deeply the love that he has for his country.
(1) OIV : International Organisation of Vine and Wine
One can only marvel at the beauty of the Slovakian vineyards.
3000 years old, it is concentrated in the south of the country, along the Carpathians(1).
After being marked by more than 40 years of real socialism(2) and the collectivization of vineyards by the State, the Slovakian wine sector is now booming and is full of wineries one more interesting than the next. Some have opted to focus only on production, exclusively purchasing their grapes from vine growers. Others, more recently, have invested in the vineyard and have created their own estates. We met with three of them.
Modern viticulture that has suffered from “real socialism”
From 30,000 hectares in 1990 to less than 17,000 hectares today(3), Slovakian vineyards are slowly being rebuild.
After the velvet Revolution of 1989, state wine companies began to collapse. The vine growers, who were previously obliged to sell their grapes to these big farms, now found themselves in a difficult situation. They had two options : they could either continue to sell their grapes to other new establishments, or they could establish their own estates.
Slovakia – after gaining its independence in 1993 – took the decision to apply a protectionist policy on imported wines, thus encouraging a qualitative progression of local production for almost 10 years(4). This allowed winegrowers to sell all of their production in Slovakia at low prices without foreign competition.
Divided into six regions – Small Carpathians and Eastern Slovakia to the west, Nitra and Central Slovakia to the south, Southern Slovakia and Tokaj to the east – a more qualitative approach is now being adhered to. As proof, a system of controlled appellations was set up in 2009.
Mrva & Stanko, a successful example of controlled grape purchases
Established in 1997, Mrva & Stanko was born from the meeting of two men. Mr Mrva, a talented winegrower who has made his mark in many European countries, and Mr Stanko, a Slovakian businessman. They began with 12,000 bottles and immediately made the choice to buy grapes from producers, in order to concentrate exclusively on investing in equipment (winery, cellar, barrels…).
“In Slovakia, it is normal to separate the vineyard part from the production part. One hectare is very expensive”, according to Mr Mrva, who admitted that he preferred leaving to Austria during the communist period. Understandable when you are passionate and want to produce nice wines.
Now producing 400,000 bottles, the Mrva & Stanko estate has grown extensively but still remains qualitative, only buying grapes within 2.5-hours driving distance maximum from the production site, for better control of the quality. Thus the winegrowers under contract with whom they work are all located at the 48th parallel north (equivalent to Vienna in Austria, Munich in Germany, or Brest in France).
We met with a winegrower working for Mrva & Stanko. “We work hand in hand and grow the vines according to Mr Mrva’s recommendations. Everyone is happy like that and it is very pleasant”, he explained.
We ended the visit by discovering the cellars of the estate. There are private lockers, rented to wealthy clients for storage of the great wines of the estate (a system we had seen in China). This approach seems to please a clientele long deprived of premium bottles. Count 600 €/year for a locker of a hundred bottles.
Tajna, the renewal of independent viticulture
Tajna estate is a new and very promising project and is a great example of the Slovakian wine-growing revival. Starting from zero, Rastislav Demes and his father planted 16 hectares in 2011, in the commune of the same name. “We have total freedom of action, both in the choice of grape varieties and in the management of the vines and the equipment used”, Rastislav enthusiastically explained..
With its high-tech wine cellar, Tajna is well equipped to produce great wines. “It’s in the details that we are making the difference”.
During the wine tasting, Rastislav kindly proposed to us to choose the music of our choice. Delicate attention. We opted for a jazzy and convivial atmosphere. The wines of the estate, although made from young vines, are already very promising : mineral, generous, with nice tension and great freshness.
“The geological substratum of the Slovakian wine-growing regions is very varied : from limestone to granite, via volcanic rocks and river sediments, the typicity of the Slovak « terroir » is indisputable”, according to Rastislav.
We finished the day with a delicious Perkelt cooked by his dad, a traditional meal made from marinated meat and potatoes. A delight.
Some nice Slovak wines discovered during our journey :
–Rizling Vlassky Tramin 2014, from Tajná (80% Rizling Vlassky, 20% Tramin)
–Vinolovca Exclusive 2013, from HR Winery (70% Rizling Vlassky, 30% Pinot Gris)
–Cuvée 2012, from MRVA & Stanko (Hron, Vah, Rimava, Rudava)
–Pinot Noir 2013, from Tajná
–Cabernet Sauvignon Barrique 2012, from HR Winery
HR Winery, a women’s story above all
Created in 2012, HR Winery is the story of a hunter and wine enthusiast, who succeeded in acquiring a vineyard of 230 hectares with 30-year old vines. Often traveling to satisfy his first passion, he entrusted the reins of the vineyard to two women. Beata Saskova, oenologist. And Mila Kissová, the sales manager. A duo full of joy and energy.
While visiting the vineyard with Beata, we were amused by the radio, which suddenly began to sing on the village loudspeakers, alternating two pieces of traditional music and flash-info for five minutes. It was 3pm and time for advertising!
We discovered no less than 26 different grape varieties on the estate. Alongside the international varieties, there are others emblematic of the country, such as Rulandské Biele (Pinot Blanc), Devín, Pálava and Rizling Rýnsky (Riesling Rhénan) for the white and Frankovka Modrá, Svätovavrinecké (Saint-Laurent) and Rulandské Modré (Pinot Noir) for the red.
After the visit, we improvised a tasting and a photo session in a room filled with stuffed animals. The “trophies” of the domain. Rather special but fun.
To conclude, it is impossible not to mention the famous Tokaj wines.
Known as the “wine of kings, king of wines“ in Hungary, it has been the subject of many dilemmas between the two countries since the Second World War. Although Slovakia has a legitimate right to the Tokaj designation and can produce it, only Hungary has the right to market it within the European Union. A big and understandable frustration for the Slovaks.
In any case, the country’s viticultural future is indeed there and its positive growth is encouraging. A country to discover urgently.
Thank you to MRVA & STANKO, HR Winery and Vino Tajná for their warm welcome. Thank you also to Miklós Jobbágy and Guyard Paul for their nice winery recommendations.
(1) Source : Slovak National Statistical Office
(2) Socialist parties throughout the world experienced splits in the 1920s (or “real socialism”) applied by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), the latter being proclaimed the “homeland of socialism”.
(3) Source: Slovak National Statistical Office
(4) It was at the time of Slovakia’s accession to the EU on 1 May 2004 that the producers had to face rapidly a major international competition.