[su_pullquote align=”right”]For those of you who need a refresher (or are just eager to learn!), in Slovenian č, š and ž are pronounced “ch”, “sh”, and “zh”. ‘J’ is soft, as in the ‘y’ in you. So Ražman is pronounced Rah ZHman. (As for the tongue-twisting ‘lj’: whenever you see those two letters together in that order as in the capital city’s name Ljubljana, it’s easier to just pretend that the ‘j’ isn’t there.)[/su_pullquote]Ražman Popetris Red Cuvee 2011
Slovenska Istra, Primorska, Slovenia
This is the first I’ve tried from Ražman, a small family-run operation working about four hectares of vineyards in the village of Gračišče, 17km southeast of Slovenia’s main port city of Koper.
Like most producers in the Slovenska Istra district, the bulk of their vineyards are planted with Refošk (about 60 percent) and Malvazija (Malvasija, about 30 percent), with the remainder consisting of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Rumeni Muškat (Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains) and another indigenous red, Maločrn (Piccola Nera).
Popetris Red Cuvee, named for a nearby village of Popetre, is a four-grape blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50 percent), Merlot (25 percent), Refošk (20 percent) and Syrah (five percent); it’s the local refosco twist that made it stand out for me.
Aged in oak for 24 months, it’s medium-bodied, with layers of plums and prunes caked in black pepper on the palate, and a cherry strawberry mash-up on the finish. I was expecting it to be a bit longer, but for now, I’ll blame that on the chilly outdoor environment that was my tasting room. You could probably lay it down for another year or two but it’s likely at its peak now.
I’m very happy to have come across this. It’s a well-made cuvee at this price point, with a nice Istrian twist. And it made that late afternoon return trip to last month’s St. Martin’s Day festivities on the streets of Ljubljana all the more memorable. A bronze medal winner at 2017 Decanter World Wine Awards.
Total production 3,000 bottles
(Tasted November 2017)