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  • Writer's pictureV.A.

Get to know Slovenian wine - Red grape varieties

We are continuing with the posts about Slovenian wine. In this one, I am going to present to you the most important red grape varieties and the other less popular red grape varieties in Slovenia.



Refosco is considered an ancient variety, originating from Slovenia or neighbouring Italy. It is the most widely planted red grape variety in Slovenia and is extremely popular.

Most of the plantings are found in Istria and in Karast. Some smaller % of plantings are also found in Brda and the Vipava Valley.

Refosco has a characterful deep colour that can stay violet-youthful for years. Aromas to be found in the wines are red and black fruits, pepper and juniper. It is very high in acidity, medium tannins and medium to full body.

In Istria: Refosco gives fruity and spicy reds, made in different styles, everything from basic to oak-aged wines that can age well.

Refosco can also be in blends with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah – to make it popular for the international market.

In the Karst: it is growing on a soil called terra rossa and produces an opaque red wine – here Refosco is called Teran. The wine has a lighter body and higher acidity then the wines produced in Istria.

In the Vipava Valley and Brda, it is not important and is used mostly in blends.

* Karst = Kras

* Refsoco in Istria = is called Refosco

* Refosco in Karst = is called Teran

Source: Slovenia a winemaking country, side 50.

The difference between Refosco and Teran

Refosco is a grape named refosco and a wine called refosco. The grapes are grown in Italy (called refosco), in Slovenia and Croatia.

Wine Refosco can be found in Slovenian Istria. It is a wine with a purple colour and very high acidity.

Teran is a wine made from Refosco grape, grown on the area of the Slovenian Karst area. Sometimes a name Karast Teran or Kraški Teran can be seen. Teran or Kraški Teran is the same. The wine is specific by having high amounts of iron due to the soil that is grown on. It also has very high acidity and intensively ruby red colour almost black. The wine is not meant for ageing and is to be consumed year or two after harvest. Teran also has a lot of antioxidants and is considered to be one of the healthy wines.

Source: à the article is in Slovenian, but the basics are translated in English above.


Žametovka is considered an ancient Slovenian variety, which is probably originating from the Dolenjska region. Žamet means »velvet«, and Žametna črnina means »black velvet«. Fun fact about this variety is that the oldest living vine in the world is the Žametovka variety and it grows in Maribor. The most significant plantings of this variety are in Slovenia.

Žametovka is a late-ripening variety, with high acidity and lightly coloured wines.

In Slovenia, there are almost no examples of varietal wines Žametovka. Majority of the grapes end up in blends in the Posavje region.

In Dolenjska: is blended in to make Cviček; in Bizeljsko-Brežice is in the blend called Bizeljčan; in Bela Krajina is in the blend Metliška Črnina.

Domaine Slapšak is starting to produce some sparkling examples of it.


Merlot is the number one international variety in Slovenia. It is a mid-ripening variety that produces deeply coloured wines, with medium tannins and aromas of red and black fruits.

Vipava Valley has the most significant plantings of Merlot and here is considered the most important red grape variety.

In Podravje and Posavje it struggles to ripen during most vintages.

Variety of wine styles are produced, starting from simple red blends (popular in Primorska), to premium blends and premium varietal wines.

Varietal wines are found in the Vipava Valley, and blends are found in Brda (as Bordeaux blends).

* Slovenian flagship red wines are from Brda and are Merlot-based blends.


In 2016 German reaserch team found out that Blaufränkish is originating from Slovenia. Its parents are forgoten Slovnenian varieties Vranek (Tičenska Črnina) and Debela Belina (Gouais Blanc). And the birthplace of the variety is around the city of Slovenske Konjice.

Most significant plantings are in Posavje and some smalled plantings are found in Podravje.

Blaufränkish is a late-ripening variety, producing deeply coloured grapes in need of warmer climate. Wines have an intense colour with notes of red berries, vegetal notes and black pepper. Acidity is medium +, with medium to high tannins.

This variety is used for spicing up the red blends based on Žametovka, with some varietal wines made as well.

In recent years, the planings of Blaufränkish have increased.


Cabernet Sauvignon needs a warmer climate for successful growing, so Slovenia is less popular for this variety. All of the plantings are in the Primorska region.

It is highly popular as a varietal wine, so there are many examples of in on the market in all price ranges. CS is often too vegetal and harsh on the tannins but is very good as a blending component in many flagship wines where contributes with firmness and spicy aromas.


Pinot Noir likes cool climates and knowledgable vinegrowers to grow it properly. Wines have distinct aromas of strawberries and light smoke, are lightly coloured, light to medium tannins, high acidity and medium body.

In Slovenia is grown in all the winegrowing regions. Still, the most successful regions in growing Pinot Noir are Štajerska Slovenia, Brda and the Vipava Valley.




Barbera wines are deeply coloured with high acidity and are a speciality of the Vipava Valley. In the past was blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for producing cheap reds. In recent years successful examples of varietal wines are produced, and its popularity is increasing.


Is the oldest grape variety grown in the world. In Slovenia is to be found in the Primorska region.


Is a crossing from the 20th century originating from Austria. Is was planted in Slovenia in the recent years, in the Podravje and Posavje regions.


Syrah is new in the wine world in Slovenia. The nature of the grape requires warm to hot climates; therefore, is successful in Istria.


As from 2016, Blauer Portugieser is considered indigenous Slovenian variety. Its origin is traced back to the region of Slovenske Konjice (same for Žametovka), the parents are Vranek and Sylvaner.

Most of the plantings are in Bela Krajina. It gives wines with neutral character and low acidity. It is getting famous produced in the “nouveau” style with carbonic maceration in November after harvest.


Gamay, Saint Laurent (Šentlovrenka), Cipro, Schioppettino (Pokalca aka Črna Rebula), Picolla Nera (Malčrn), Chasellas Roughe (Rdeča Žlahtnina).

Source: Slovenia a winemaking country, from Robert Gorjak, page 50-54.

As always have a Winederful day! :)

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