Guerila Retro 2017

Guerila, Vipava, Slovenia

Slovenia is on the cusp of becoming ultra-trendy in the wine world and an emerging wine tourism hotspot. Wines there are already quite accomplished, interesting and, more often than not, over deliver on quality at relatively sharp prices.

Located where the Balkan region smashes up against the Alps, over time the culture – ever straddling an important cross road – has knitted together bits and pieces of Slavic, Hungarian, Italian and Austrian influence into what is now a distinctively Slovenian national identity. So too with wine.

In terms of styles these are equally complex with bits of all the above influences playing out through a wide variety of warm and cold climates, all of which are crammed into a relatively compact space.

Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Blaufrankisch are all rising stars, but under-known local varieties Zelen and Pinela are bound for glory.

Styles sometimes reminded me of lighter, crisper, more extroverted, lower alcohol versions of Alsatian wines. It’s almost as if Slovenians are holding up a mirror toward the foothills sitting on the opposite side of the Alps and nudging Alsatians to try to have a bit more fun with their wine.

During my 2020 Slovenian tour, I greatly enjoyed the wines of Guerila, an organic/biodynamic producer from Vipava region opposite the Italian Alps. Each region of Slovenia has its own kind of everyman’s wine for everyday use: purposefully cheap, cheerful and built around its own favorite blend of grapes. A special traditional form of this a ‘field blend’ called Vipavek (wine of the farmer). A field blend being a mixture of grape varieties intentionally grown together in the same vineyard destined for fermentation together. Here’s Guerila’s take on Vipavek.

Guerila Retro Selection 2017 12.5%:

Made with an equal part blend of local white varieties (Malvasia, Rebula, Pinela, Zalen), all collected on same day and co-fermented, steeping on skins for 10 days to intensify flavors and grip, then aged in 2,000 litre foudre barrels for a year. Tasted a year ago it offered up very fine mineral aromas, a nose that was both subtle and poised. Slick, condensed and continuous in the mouth it had a long finish marked by very fine-grained, skin tannins and perfectly balanced acidity. A very refined wine, distinctively styled. 17.5/20

Tasted again recently, after a year of maturation, it has fleshed out (like most of us during Covid) into a fuller body that’s still packed with grapy concentration, neatly cut through with crisp acidity.

Aromatically it seems to have developed under glass, with a layer of fresh blossoms (chamomile) and green stem aromas, tinged with a touch of honeyed, toasty notes. It still goes down very well with air dried ham and sausages and dense bread.

If this is a modest farmer’s wine, give me more.

See more at Guerila