Bordeaux wines, Burgundies, Champagnes, Super Tuscans, and much more; wines from both the Old and the New Worlds (the latter including the U.S. Australia, Argentina, and New Zeeland) were featured; 54 of the wines were from abroad.
Visitors had an opportunity to taste some of the most prestigious names of the wine world, such as Château D' Yquem (price: 420 euros), Ornellaia, Tenuta di Biserno, Château Pontet-Canet, Château Smith Haut Lafitte, as well as the Pol Roger line of Champagne, a true festival-level rarity: the 2002 Winston Churchill, Tokay wines from the Oremus winery, and even Chinese wines (Château Changyu).
In fact, it was the Chinese Ambassador to Slovenia who opened the festival; he is also opening his homeland not just to Slovenia’s wines, but also to the country’s business leaders.
The organizer of the festival, the eVino wine cellar, led by Gašper Čarman, decided to feature these famous foreign names alongside 28 wineries from Slovenia (as well as three Slovenian-run wineries just across the country’s borders -- Gravner, Keber, and Zidarich). The Slovenian wineries were able to go head-to-head with their foreign competitors.
“I’m glad that Gašper has brought the global wine elite to the Cankarjev Dom Congress Center and given Slovenia’s winemakers a chance to meet with these experts,” says Aleš Kristančič from Movia, who launched the wine Turno Belo (2017) at the festival.
“Slovenia’s best wines easily rank among the best in the world. Not all of them – but certainly most of the ones featured at this festival,” says the festival’s guest of honor Caroline Gilby, the leading wine expert for Central and Eastern Europe.
“Because Slovenia is a small country, it must focus on small-scale production. Its wines can never be cheap. But despite this, you have an incredibly good price-to-quality ratio. Wine lovers get a lot for their money, which isn’t always the case with the more established global brands,” adds the British expert, who holds the most prestigious title in enology – Master of Wine.
Among the wines that are undoubtedly among the best in the world are those from Gravner’s winery. At the festival, they were represented by Mateja Gravner. For the first time, she opened a Rebula and a Bainco Breg from 2010. Visitors were also able to taste a 2007 Pinot Gris. Another premiere at the festival was a 2016 Rebula Opoka by Marjan Simčič, a wine that was given 99 points by the Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport earlier this year and was named the best wine in the world.
Cognacs, gins, grappas…
The festival did not forget about fans of hard liquor. Among the featured brands were Tesseron cognacs, including Loto 29, the only cognac awarded 100 points by Robert Parker. Two Slovenian gins – Brin and Monologue – were also unveiled at the festival. The latter, backed by master chef Tomaž Kavčič, was ranked among the ten best spirits in the world at this year’s Great American Spirit Competition.
“When I cook, I explore the fusion of various ingredients. And when I started to work on Monologue, I decided to combine elements that would give the gin a real harmony. To the basic ingredient – juniper berries –, I added 72 other ingredients after a trial-and-error process and ended up with the final product. I’m glad that we can be a part of such a prestigious event with this product,” adds Kavčič.
Festival venue bursting at the seams
The festival was attended by many leading names of Slovenian enology and gastronomy, including several top chefs, sommeliers, and owners of wine cellars. The atrium of the Cankarjev Dom festival venue was bursting at the seams with more than 1400 visitors.
“I’m not exaggerating when I say that more than a hundred people told me that if I want to taste wines that I won’t be able to taste anywhere else in the region, I must attend the Top Vino festival. Because I still had some business in Belgrade yesterday, I woke up at 3 a.m. and drove to Ljubljana. In addition to the exceptional wines, I’m surprised by the number of visitors. I can only wish that we had something like this in Serbia,” says Vuk Vuletić, Serbia’s leading sommelier.
Given the flood of wine festivals, it seems that Top Vino, with its promising combination of big foreign names, which are rarely available at tastings, and leading Slovenian wines, has managed to find its place in the wine world.