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Echo the new wine variety comes to the market this week - a variety which combines the wines from all three of Slovenia’s winegrowing regions - Primorska, Posavje and Podravje. Photo: Frelih House of Wine

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Echo: The first wine to connect all three winegrowing regions

14. November 2017 ob 12:22
Šentrupert - MMC RTV SLO

A new wine variety comes to the market this week - a variety which combines the wines from all three of Slovenia’s winegrowing regions - Primorska, Posavje and Podravje.

It’s probably no coincidence that enologist Uroš Bolčina is the man behind the Echo white and Echo red wines (a sparkling wine is also maturing in the cellar and comes to the market next year). Bolčina gained his experience in wine cellars across the world and has been responsible for many of Slovenia’s wine novelties.

Bolčina helped Croatians earn 95 points at the Decanter wine awards with their "Istrian" from the Veralda winery, making that Teran variety the best ever graded Croatian wine. And Bolčina, although helping a Croatian wine, thus became the first Slovenian to win a Decanter best red wine award. And on top of it all, for a wine variety which the Croatians tend to call Teran, which is quite painful to the ears of Karst locals. From the Veralda winery Bolčina then returned to Slovenia and started working with the Frelih House of Wine in the Dolenjska region. He immediately set a new milestone – a Cviček signed by Bolčina won the special commended prize at the Decantar wine awards in May. It was not only the first time for anyone to send a Cviček to a bigger international wine competition, but it actually also received a prize.

To connect Slovenia through wine
Bolčina has now upgraded his work with the Frelih’s with a new project that had been "maturing" in his head for several years. A project that has never been attempted by anyone – to make a "wine of three regions". The closest anyone ever came to that happened a couple of years ago in the Brda area, when the Slovenian Ferdinand and Italian Gradis'ciutta wineries combined the Ribolla from both sides of the border into a sparkling wine called Sinefinis. The idea is similar, but in Echo’s case it is not about connecting one variety, but about connecting the Slovenian people with a wine through its varieties – each coming from one of the winegrowing regions.

"Slovenia in a bottle. To show that if we are united and connected, we can make big things," explained Bolčina, who for the purpose of creating the Echo wine carefully picked varieties from the three winegrowing regions, which have otherwise been long neglected due to poverty and human factors, which is most obvious in the Kozjansko area. The grapes in Frelih’s cellars have been brought in from the neighbouring Dolenjska vineyards, and he also imported some from the Vipava valley. The vineyards in question were from 4 to 30 years old.

Neglected old varieties
In making the two types of wine they used varieties "less valued on the market," i.e. those that are indigenous to the region, rare or neglected. "It was a wish to make a swan out of an ugly duckling," smirked Bolčina. That’s why the project included the Pinela, Silvaner and Welschriesling varieties (for the Echo white wine) as well as the Merlot, Barbera, Blaufränkisch and Žametovka varieties (for the Echo red wine). "No wine has that kind of composition, as certain varieties are allowed only in certain winegrowing regions" explained Bolčina.

Due to the strict bureaucratic regulations on wine labeling, Frelih’s new wines, made out of grapes from three regions, cannot have the "quality wine" or"‘wine of superior quality’" labels. They are automatically designated as "table wines without geographical indication" – something which usually offsets consumers, convinced that these are cheap wines of poorer quality.

Kaja Sajovic, MMC; translated by K. J.