The short answer: a local white, or autochthonous wine grape, grown primarily in Slovenia’s Kras/karst and Vipava Valley districts and across the border in Italy’s Friuli-Venezia Giulia region where it’s known simply as Vitovska.
More specifically: a cross between Prosecco Tondo and Malvasia Bianca Lunga, Vitovska Grganja wine is medium to full-bodied, generally lower in alcohol, with pears, prunes and spice typical on the palate, along with notes of citrus, apple and cherry.
It’s quite rare but hardy, too, surviving the region’s brutal burja, or bora winds that can blast through at 200kph, and the harsh sun-baked terrarossa soil of the Karst (Kras).
Vitovska Grganja vines produce large clusters which need to be cut back to keep yield low and the grape quality high. While small amounts are grown in the Vipava Valley district, it’s most prevalent in the Kras district, where about 32 hectares (80 acres) were grown in 2017.
In the best hands and vintages it can be elegant and full. Unfortunately, few winemakers produce it, but the numbers are steadily increasing. If you manage to find it, give it a whirl for a terroir trip very few have trekked.
Vitovska Grganja’s name? Either from the village of Vitovlje in the Vipava Valley, or from the word Vitez, Slovenian for knight.
Also known as Vitovska, Vitouska, Garganja, malvazija s piko and Beli refošk.
Vitovska Grganja reviews on Piran Café
(Listed alphabetically by winery and date of tasting; updated as needed)