The short answer: a dry, tart red and white blend produced only in the Dolenjska district, thus very much a uniquely Slovenian concoction.
The longer answer: Cviček is a dry, tart red and white blend produced in the Dolenjska district of southeast Slovenia. It’s generally light in alcohol, weighing in between 8.5 and 10%. Its composition varies by vintage and producer, but is generally composed of about 65 percent red –40-50 percent žametna črnina and 15-20 percent Modra Frankinja– and about 35 percent white –10 do 15 percent Kraljevina, upwards of 10 percent Laški Rizlinga, and with Rumeni Plavec, Zeleni Silvanec, Bela žlahtnina, and/or Ranfol making up the rest.
It’s generally a light ruby in color, with cherry and raspberry aromas. Drink it young.
The name? It’s an archaic Slovenian word for –wait for it– sour wine. It’s believed that it began as a red blend with whites added to alter its acidity and make it more drinkable. It can’t go higher than 10% alcohol; during hot growing seasons that raise sugar levels in the grapes, more žametna črnina, a wine with lower alcohol levels, will be added.
It’s very popular, especially near its home in the southeast corner of the country, but until a handful of years ago, was not considered a “serious” wine. That’s been changing in recent years as a younger generation of winemakers take the blend more seriously. That was evidenced at the 2017 Decanter World Wine Awards, where Frelih’s 2016 Cviček Od Fare received a ‘commended’ rating, a first rating of any kind for the blend.
It’s also one of only a few wines with the designation Priznano Tradicionalno Poimenovanje (PTP), or recognized traditional designation, reserved for wines with regional (in this case district) traditional distinction.