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Pinot Noir Love Affair – Modri Les Noirs Wine Festival

It’s hard to grow, but when conditions are favorable, Pinot Noir gives of one the most wanted, divine red wines in the world. We participated in the first regional Pinot Noir wine festival - Modri Les Noirs - in Idrija, Slovenia, to find out the Noir potential in Slovenian and Croatian vineyards.

Pinot Noir is thought to be one of the oldest grape varieties in the world. There is much evidence to prove that theory. During its hundreds of years of existence, the grape evolved and, today, winemakers have access to many clones that emphasize different characteristics of the soil, climate, grape and winemakers’ style. For us consumers, this means a wide choice of different styles of wines made from the same grape variety.

After tasting 19 regional Pinot Noirs, in a Masterclass led by Quentin Sadler, we generally concluded that the style of Slovenian and Croatian Pinot Noir is, as expected, unique and reflects specific terroirs of the region. It seemed that the Pinot Noirs here, have beautifully integrated tannins, a firmer structure and maybe a little more body.

One of the most enchanting festival venues we have been to – Kendov Dvorec Realis & Chateau in Spodnja Idrija, Slovenia

Dating back to 1377 and carefully renovated in a traditional style, Relais & Chateau Kendov Dvorec is surrounded by fresh mountain air, a garden with century-old apple trees and hidden, unspoiled nature. With no distractions, the venue allowed the organizers and us to fully commit to exploring and discussing the Pinot Noir showed at the festival.

Boutique and organized to perfection, the wine festival gathered notable producers, selected media and wine lovers together to explore more about the Pinot Noir. We are happy to announce that this first edition continues, and we already have dates for 2019.

Modri Les Noirs will again be held at the magical Kendov Dvorec from 19th to 20th October 2019.

Vipava valley Slovenia – some of the most elegant Pinot Noir wines we found at the festival

The Vipava valley, with the unique blend of mild Mediterranean and continental Alpine temperatures, seems to give a specific elegance to the Pinot Noir (or, in Slovenian, Modri Pinot) wines. Some of the most elegant wines we tasted at the festival came from Vipava.

Vipava Valley, Slovenia
Vipava Valley, Slovenia

Burja Pinot Noir 2016 spend 18 months in 2000 liters oak barrels. The first impression on the nose is bursting with riper cherries and fruits. On the palate, you feel youthfulness as this is the current vintage on the market. Subtle, yet tangible tannins fit the description of the Pinot Noir variety. They are here and very sensible on the palate but on a mission of empowering the wine and providing energy when you taste it.

One of our favorites, in an elegant and gentle style, is also a biodynamic producer from Vipava, Pasji rep Pinot Noir 2016, which is coming from marl soil. This is a meaty version, with a powerful combination of berry fruits and cherries, so pure and gentle both on the nose and the palate. Silky tannins, perfectly integrated French oak and juiciness. This is a fabulous wine!

 

Pasji Rep, Pinot Noir 2016
Pasji Rep, Pinot Noir 2016

The organizer or the Modri Les Noir festival, Matijaž Lemut, chief oenologist and owner of the TILIA Estate winery, is also one of the most known producers of Pinot Noir in the Vipava valley. The style Matijaž carries and his signature is more on the structured and fuller-bodied Pinot Noirs. In TILIA final selection, we'll find 7 different clones of Pinot Noir that contribute to the final blend and his vision– spicy, well-structured and amazing food pairing Pinot.

TILIA Estate Pinot Noir Selection
TILIA Estate Pinot Noir Selection

One of the surprises of the Styria wine region

The Heaps Good Wine Company operated by Nick, a New Zealander that now lives and makes fantastic wines in Styria. Their bottle, which we tasted from 2016, comes from a small vineyard of only 0,9 hectares of Pinot Noir. This was a late harvest, but with an amazing uplifting character. 13% of alcohol suits it perfectly with every sip. The fermentations occur spontaneously, after 8 days of cold maceration. The wine is later aged in 20% new oak barrels which give indulging spicy notes. Everything is in balance and harmony, as the smoky character gives it a twist that was interesting and enjoyable.

Goriška Brda

The 2016 Pinot Noir from the cooperative Goriška Brda was one of the most successful values for money wines. At the price of around 10 EUR, they managed to produce a very juicy, fruit-forward, cherry-like Pinot Noir, elegant and gentle with a touch of herbal notes that keep it on the more refreshing side.

Kristančić Dušan’s from Marko – Vina Medane Pinot Noir 2013 has an expression, which is a combination of saltiness and meatiness. A very extracted Pinot Noir aged in a combination of oak barrels from Slovenia and France for 3 years, before being released on the market. You can feel the aging touch, while the fruit is still alive. There is a balsamic signature and plums coming out of the glass.

Winemakers from Plešivica, Croatia - Tomac, Šember and Korak winery
Winemakers from Plešivica, Croatia - Tomac, Šember and Korak winery

Plešivica in Croatia rules the Pinot Noir

In Croatia, the Pinot Noir is planted in a smaller amount in Istria, Plešivica next to Zagreb where they make some of the best sparkling roses in the country, and also Slavonia and Danube.

Maybe the Slavonia region wasn’t as well represented as the Plešivica one, where we had an opportunity to taste amazing Pinot Noirs from the Tomac, Šember and Korak families – the magnificent trio of the region. In this first edition of Modri Les Noirs, we missed some of the notable producers from Slavonia, like Krauthaker and Sontacchi, who also make amazing Pinot Noirs and could bring a better understanding of this regions’ capacity in the production of this variety.

One of the best wines, not only from Croatia, was the Pinot Noir 2017. from Tomac. Still raw and not yet released on the market, after the fermentation and aging on the fine lees in amphoras, the wine continues to develop in neutral oak barrels. Here, they didn’t want the influence of oak, just the micro-oxygenation to round up the story. If we had to describe it, we’d say it is the power of the fruit in the Pinot Noir style, expressive and approachable. Plum, plum skins, the feel of the fruits is much darker with meaty fragrance and pepper notes. And, all of it came only from the grapes themselves. All in all, together, we agreed with Quentin Sadler, who never tried the Pinot Noirs of the region, as well as Croatia. For him, this was a reason to look out for Plešivica!

Pasji Rep Pinot Noir 2016. and Tomac Crni Pinot 2017.
Pasji Rep Pinot Noir 2016. and Tomac Crni Pinot 2017.

If you’ve already fallen in love, be sure to save the date for the Modri Les Noir 2019. It is the first and only, so far, wine festival that gathers producers from Slovenia and Croatia for one love only – the Noir!

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