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A new wine route in the heart of Dolenjska

 

Visiting Jernej Žaren, a creator of the future

Dolenjska, a hill-dotted wine-growing district, is among the most pleasant districts in Slovenia.

Dolenjska with 1,580 hectares is home to 7,500 winemakers. Most vineyards are micro vineyards, each with a small wooden or stone-built cottage, where the Dolenjska locals make wine and cure salamis, but particularly socialise and are merry. Wine-growing is not as much an economic activity as it is a way of life. People make wine for the soul, family, and friends. Do not miss out on this unique experience, when you can go from one vineyard cottage to the next and compare wine with the kind and sprightly Dolenjska locals.

Make no mistake, there are also some winemakers who make wine professionally and achieve excellent results. Standing out among them is the Albiana winery named after Ana and Albin Žaren who bought the estate in 1936. Only a ten-minute drive from the motorway, the road will take you to the heart of the picturesque region, to Nemška vas which the Žaren’s call home. Today, they cultivate twenty hectares and produce 250,000 litres of wine.

The farm is run by Jernej Žaren whose desire is to show the potential the Dolenjska district has, which would otherwise not be at the top of Slovenian wine-related popularity. He is among the main creators of the Dolenjska wine future. He was also the initiator of a project during which Dolenjska invited Caroline Gilby, Master of Wine, a leading wine connoisseur in Central and Eastern European, to advise them on the steps to take for the region to develop.

Albiana
Photo: Albiana Archive

Varietal white wines, Blaufränkisch, sparkling wine, and Cviček

Cheerfulness, extraordinary wines, and idyllic location.

Most produced wine is local Cviček, a Dolenjska speciality, which is difficult to obtain outside of Slovenia. Cviček is a light reddish dry wine with abundant freshness. The law states that it must not contain over ten per cent alcohol. It is among rare blends of white and red varieties. Žametna Črnina and Blaufränkisch prevail among red varieties, Kraljevina and Welschriesling among white ones. Their Cviček has been deemed one of the best for years. When you drink a glass of refreshing wine on a hot summer day, you will understand why it is talked about so much. Janez Vajkard Valvasor, a Slovenian polymath, wrote about Cviček in his famous book The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola in the 17th century.

Cviček is Albiana’s workhorse wine a typical occurence in Dolenjska. But they offer so much more. For example, good varietal fresh white wines produced from Sylvaner, Welschriesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Yellow Muscat. Increasingly more attention is also paid to a Slovenian indigenous red variety – Blaufränkisch whose yield has been on the rise in the Posavje wine-growing region. Their prestigious line, Blaufränkisch Alto, contains perfectly ripe grapes from the selected location aged in barrique barrels from French and Slavonian wood for 18 months.

Albiana has also been at the peak of the sparkling wine revival recently experienced by Dolenjska. The coldest Slovenian wine-growing district has excellent conditions for the production of sparkling wines. Albiana Brut is a sparkling wine made by the traditional method. A type of Chardonnay and local Kraljevina mature on the lees for at least 18 months. Elegant sparkling wine with fine bubbles and a wonderful combination of fruitiness and characteristic flavours of bread crust and brioche.

The Žaren family never rest and are always up to something new. They will welcome you in a new, modern, and neatly decorated tasting room which can host up to 70 people. They will make you feel at home, as if you were visiting relatives. Cheerfulness, extraordinary wines, and the idyllic location are the reasons why people are always happy to return to the Žaren’s. At the estate, they also provide accommodation with a beautiful view of the Krško Plain with Krakovski gozd and Gorjanci where you can extend your trip for a few days.

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