Aleks Klinec is brutally honest when I ask about his decision to switch entirely to traditional long skin maceration in 2005 – making only “orange wines” instead of some conventional white wines which were still in the portfolio: “We lost the entire Slovenian market – but it didn’t matter, because these wines sell well in the UK, Australia and USA”.
Klinec’s production at this tiny but venerable 6ha estate is certified biodynamic. Klinec prefers to use a miniscule amount of sulphur when racking the wines from oak (or cherry, mulberry and acacia, all much used here) to stainless steel, after three years. I think this pays off, as everything we tasted was stunningly pure, focused and clean.
Klinec makes excellent varietal wines from Pinot Grigio, Rebula and Malvasia, but his white blend Ortodox took my breath away – truly more than the sum of its parts.
Ortodox 2006 is a blend of local varieties Rebula (AKA Ribolla Gialla), Verduzzo, Malvasia and Friulano, undergoing between 5-12 days of skin contact (the Rebula gets more than the other varieties) and substantial ageing in both wood and steel – Klinec describes it as a “riserva”. The 2006 is the current release, so no steal at €35, but worth every last cent.
This is a perfect example of the complexity and depth that a good orange wine can have. Here we get toffee and caramel notes on the nose, together with burnt plum skin, apricot and nuts. There’s serious structure, but the tannins are really refined with a nice nuttiness on the finish. A salty minerality cruises through the wine, lifting and energising everything. Wonderfully balanced, even with the formidable 14.8% alcohol.
There’s also a great backstory to the label design – a classification of wine regions dating from Maria Theresa’s era (1787 to be precise) clearly shows that Medana, the small village where Klinec is located, was rated 1st class. The document is reproduced as a background on the label, together with the “I. Classe” or “Premier Cru” designation. Here’s the full version, with Medana signposted:
If you’re in London, you can sample Klinec’s wines at 40 Maltby Street, the small wine bar owned by distributor Gergovie wines. Better still, head to the Klinec family’s popular restaurant (on the same site as the winery) where you can not only try the wines, but also Aleks’ outstanding salami and pršut.