Easter Monday in Slovenia is usually spent visiting friends and family or going on a day trip to some wonderful part of the country. We found no better way to enjoy the day than by getting up close and personal with Pinela, so we hopped into our car and drove off to Vipava Valley in the west of Slovenia.
You’re wondering who Pinela is, right? Pinela is a rare, indigenous, white varietal grape that’s grown almost exclusively in the popular Vipava wine region. Other than in Slovenia, she also lives in the neigbouring Italian region of Friuli. It really is worth spending a bit of time with her, as she is after all quite special.
She makes this very drinkable pale-yellow wine that’s very hard to get. In fact, the winemakers that dedicate much of their efforts to raise her say that she’s pretty hard to handle. Since she’s quite sensitive to high humidity, she’s very susceptible to rot and mold. Yet, in spite of this, we—as in oenophiles— and winemakers still love her.
Originally (Pinela is rather ancient), winemakers had a convenient habit of using it in blends. However, she’s gaining more and more popularity in her pure varietal form.
In Slovenia, she’s found her ideal growing conditions and winemakers’ tender loving care in the village of Planina nad Ajdovsčino, which is recognised today as the home of Pinela. Planina, scattered across many fertile hills, just north of the Karst plateau, is now also host to a wine festival dedicated solely to the demanding Pinela.
This is where I had the opportunity to make my first acquaintance with her. I found her to be a very light and fresh wine with a gentle floral bouquet. Yes, very feminine indeed! She’s dry though, moderate in alcohol, and I must say best enjoyed in her youth. Since she’s got this crisp medium to high acidity, she pairs fairly well with prosciutto 🙂 And she’s also quite rich, and full in the mouth.
While socialising with Pinela, I began to lose my ability to differentiate between one winemaker’s Pinela and another, so I took a few breaks in between the tastings, and got hold of a few yummy treats prepared by the local lady winegrowers: mini fluffly pancakes with fresh cream mixed with horseradish—another Slovenian Easter favourite—plus a layer of prosciutto and rocket (rucola) leaves; pumpkin soup; barley salad topped with horseradish root shavings; mini sausage burgers (pictured below), and savoury black-olive muffins.
Back to Pinela, she again tasted delightfully fresh. I decided to take some of her back home with me as I was told she makes a great match for freshwater fish, wholegrain pasta with a mild sauce, potatoes à la dauphinoise or potoates au gratin, fried chicken, and light cheeses.
I can’t wait to try these dishes accompanied by Pinela! How about tonight? 🙂
Pinela Festival: Quick Facts
The following wine producers were present at this year’s (2019) festival:
Dora Erzelj vinarstvo
Jamšek 1887 vina
Tomas, Tomaž Fabčič
Vinarstvo in vinogradništvo Pipan
Vinska klet Koron
Vinska klet Miška
Vinska klet Trta 1949
Vinska klet Žorž 1696