This prestigious 50-year-old Slovenian Sauvignon that sells
at just under €160 a bottle is the highlight at
Salon Sauvignon 2020 in Ptuj.
It’s not every day that I get the opportunity to show my face, or rather my age, quality, and character. On a day-to-day basis, I lie in a dark and humid place surrounded by dusty walls lined with rows of equally dusty wine racks.
Ptuj Wine Cellar: My Home
The Ptuj Wine Cellar (Ptujska Klet) is my home. Here I rest, in the wine archive, day in day out as time impacts the character of my vintage. I’m in the company of around 200,000 bottles of archival wines, some of which date back to the time between the first and second world wars!
I’m far from lonely. Surrounded by my wine companions, we also get quite a few visitors who come to tour the wine cellar. Not surprising. The Ptuj Wine Archive boasts one of the largest and most famous collections in the region. It’s a must for any wine lover and all who visit Ptuj, Slovenia’s oldest town.
Out and About at Salon Sauvignon
Once in a while, I get to go out and see the light of day. Today, I’m called out to be sampled and enjoyed by avid wine lovers at the Salon Sauvignon, Ptuj’s annual art and wine festival. I stand patiently in a dark green bottle covered in basement mold waiting to be decanted. Finally, I’m ready for tasting.
I may not be the oldest wine in Ptuj Wine Cellar, but I am the oldest wine at the Salon Sauvignon. And I won a gold medal at the Concours Mondial du Sauvignon 2020! I was the oldest awarded wine at the competition.
Of course I’m a star at the salon! Hordes of wine tasters wait in line to taste me. And voila, I meet food and wine writer Denise Rejec. Let me invite you to read what she has to say about me…
Prestigious Sauvignon 1970
Sauvignon 1970 is absolutely right about the queues. I wait in line at the Salon Sauvignon to try this prestigious wine, which I’m told usually sells at €158.40 per bottle.
However, we’re in luck this year since it’s Sauvignon 1970’s 50th birthday, which means that it’s being sold at a 50% discount! And we’re especially lucky because we’re able to enjoy it right here at this wine event. You’re still in time to get your hands on some Sauvignon 1970 as to date there are still around 1,700 bottles left.
Tasting notes for Sauvignon 1970:
Despite the wine’s vintage, I can still smell quite a bit of varietal aromas such as citrus and hay. Due to the number of years of maturation in the bottle, a discreet vegetal note characteristic of archived sauvignon is present. I smell toasted bread, roasted nuts, a gentle note of wood, and at the end there is a honey note that reflects the ripeness of the grapes when harvested.
The wine in the mouth feels dry and acidic. It balances out the sugar. Even though the wine is described as semisweet, I can’t say that it tastes sweet at all. The wine has a long finish.
How to Pair Archive Wines with Food
It is at times quite challenging to find suitable food matches for archive wines. But some really good combinations do exist. I can recommend baked, white, wild seawater fish, or some mature cheeses such as blue stilton, or some even more pungent and creamy cheeses such as ‘mohant’ a rather particular cheese from Bohinj.
Why are archive wines so hard to pair with food?
I asked Maksimiljan Kadivec, chief oenologist at Ptuj Wine Cellar for his insight on the matter. He says it’s hard to combine archive wine with food, especially because we are not often used to drinking such wines. We definitely can’t expect the same characteristics from one that is fresh, young, fruity.
“The challenge with archive wines is that they have developed more tertiary aromas during the ripening process,” says Maksimiljan. “To combine such wines with food, we must know all about the food composition and wine characteristics. Usually, archive wines are heavier and much more acidic than the wines we are used to today. There’s also much more residual sugar.”
However, I do love food and wine pairing challenges, and I’m set on finding that match made in heaven!
How to Serve Archive Wines (Temperature & Decanting)
Archive wines should ideally be served at a temperature of between 16°C and 18°C. Plan in advance so that you can open the bottle and leave the wine to air for a few hours before drinking. If you don’t have enough time to aerate the wine, decant it into a carafe or glasses with a large bowl.
How to Store Archive Wines
It is best to store archive wines on their side (horizontally) in a dark, humid, and cool environment where the temperature is constant and between 9 ° C and 12 ° C. Humidity level should be at 75%.
“Cheerio & Cheers” from Sauvignon 1970
So that’s all about me for now. Denise will now give you some brief info about Sauvignon in Slovenia, the annual Sauvignon festival, and the Ptuj Wine Cellar which she associates with a very special day in her life. You’ll soon see why. Cheerio & cheers!
Ptuj’s Salon Sauvignon
Varietal wine salons are a big deal here in Slovenia. I still hold very fond memories of the first one I attended in Slovenia back in 2013. It was the Salon Traminec, held within the beautiful, romantic setting of Negova Castle in Gornja Radgona. What a magical evening, filled with not only top Slovenian Gewürztraminer wines but also entertaining live music and fire dances.
Ptuj’s Salon Sauvignon is one of the younger Slovenia wine salons. Run by Slavko Podbrežnik Dobnik of Ars Poetoviensis, this is its sixth year. The event was meant to take place in April but was postponed till June due to COVID-19. It’s usually held in the beautiful Dominican convent, but this year’s coronavirus circumstances warranted a location change, so the salon was held in the atrium of a Minorite convent.
“I still hold very fond memories of the first wine salon I attended in Slovenia back in 2013.”Denise Rejec of Wine Dine Slovenia
Ptuj Salon Sauvingon 2020 Awarded Wines
As usual, an expert wine judging panel evaluated all the submitted samples before the event and awarded the best according to individual categories. These are the winners:
- Best dry wine: Sauvignon 2019 (dry) from Ptuj Wine Cellar
- Best mature wine: Sauvignon 2017 (dry) from Vinarstvo Leber from the Svečina area
- Best sweet wine: Sauvignon 2015 (dry, late harvest) from Meranovo Estate, owned by the University of Maribor
Sauvignon in Slovenia
Production of Sauvignon Blanc is extremely huge in countries like France and New Zealand. In Slovenia, there is one region that is known for its top-quality sauvignon. And that’s Styria, especially its sub-region Haloze, which is also really close to Ptuj. (Slovenske Gorice, which literrally means ‘Slovenian Hills’ and the slopes of Pohorje also have extraordinary potential). So it’s unsurprising that Slovenia’s oldest city of Ptuj hosts a dedicated wine salon for this variety.
Ptuj Wine Cellar: The Oldest Wine Cellar in Slovenia
What about that special day in my life? Well… Thinking about this wine cellar always stirs up the fondest of memories. I was at a wine tasting here with my husband just a few moments before he asked the burning question that requires a life-changing answer! You can guess what my answer was. 😉
Ptuj Wine Cellar is the oldest Slovenian wine cellar and represents the long-standing tradition of winemaking in Ptuj. It houses the oldest Slovenian vintage, a wine named Golden Vine 1917 (Zlata Trta 1917), and lies together with the rest of the old bottles in Ptuj Wine Cellar’s Treasury.
Golden Vine (Zlata Trta): The Oldest Slovenian Wine
Golden Vine (Zlata Trta) is the oldest Slovenian vintage, dating back to 1917. In fact, it is part of Slovenia’s national heritage and therefore cannot be sold. So all we can do is marvel at the 40 bottles that are left from this vintage.