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“The soil of the region where the Rojac family grow their vines provides this wine with a deep and mineral structure…this red is rather slightly ‘metallic’ like the terra rossa (red clay soil, containing iron) Teran. It is a pleasant and very surprising taste, followed by black and red pepper notes.”

By Mariusz Rybak

Refošk or Teran, known in Italy as Refosco, is a very ancient variety, probably grown already in Roman times. Nowadays, some scientists claim Refošk and Teran are two different clones of the same variety, but you will still find them equalized in many publications.

Wines made from this variety are produced in north-eastern Italy, Slovenia and Croatia. They are characteristic especially for the Karst plateau and Istria. In these regions – constituted by limestone hills and mountains, covered by aromatic rosemary, juniper, lavender and other typical macchia species – the concentration of aromas in the air is higher than anywhere else in Italy. At least this is what I was told in some good restaurant in Piedmont, where the cheese and honey from Karst were served.

The particular wine I want to present is Refošk, produced by the Rojac family from the Slovenian part of the Istrian peninsula. It is a quality wine of controlled geographic origin (in Slovenian, “kakovostno vino z zaščitenim geografskim poreklom”), which would be the Slovenian equivalent to the Italian DOC or the French AOC. It is the second last category in the country’s appellation system, just before the highest “vrhunsko vino z zaščitenim geografskim poreklom”, the premium quality wine.

The soil of the region where the Rojac family grow their vines provides this wine with a deep and mineral structure. In case of bad Refošk from Istria, you will taste some almost sparkling wine, not unlike a cheap Lambrusco. But this red is rather slightly ‘metallic’ like the terra rossa (red clay soil, containing iron) Teran. It is a pleasant and very surprising taste, followed by black and red pepper notes, and some other mysteries which I wasn’t able to name but passionately enjoyed.

Refosk_Slovenia

The wine is not filtrated, so that it is not deprived of its natural character, as Sergio Esposito would put it. Used to undistinguishable wines, where the bunch of aromas is always the same – berries, cherries, plums, dark chocolate and similar – one can instead get excited by this original expression of Istria’s climate, soil and culture.

Still, I don’t think it is an overcomplicated red which one cannot enjoy without years of educating his palate. Its beauty and elegance is very classical, and that means: simple.

In Sergio Esposito’s book, ‘Passion on the vine’, I’ve found an opinion expressed by his friend, Gianfranco Soldera – “[…] if you don’t miss a wine after you’ve drunk it, don’t ever drink it again” (2008, p. 202).

Isn’t it a good rule for judging wines? Well, for sure I miss the Rojac’s Refošk.

Mariusz Rybak is currently researching Serbian wine culture and the notion of wine as a cultural good. His musings on such topics can be read on his blog, Kawa and Vino.

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