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Štajerska, Slovenia + Sommelier Scandal
Year 13, No. 13
“A harvest to forget.”
Any casual perusing of Instagram during September has seen this phrase pop up many times in the various languages of Southern Europe.
Few winemakers have been terribly thrilled about the results of 2023 and some I’ve talked to were ready to light a match, set it all on fire, and be done with it.
The main problem in Spain has been drought. Fires have also popped up, although those seem to have affected the Greeks more than anyone. Then, as if to rub everyone’s collective face in the drought, there would be these disastrous deluges sweeping through the Mediterranean.
France seems to have come out of this vintage the least hit. Good for them as harvest totals will most definitely be down in Spain and Italy as well. Within these two countries it's not all bad and there are wild extremes. For instance the south of Italy has seen their harvest decimated, but the north is… “less bad”.
You see this in Spain as well. As I mentioned in the recent Rioja Report, these dumps of water throughout the summer will see them scrape by with a “normal-ish” harvest, at least in the west and north.
Rías Baixas is seeing a slightly down, but overall “normal-ish” harvest in terms of totals, but then you get to Priorat where people in the south of the region are at 30-40% of “normal-ish” whereas those in the north 90%. Penedès has been brutalized across the entire region. But I was just up in Empordà (the far northeast of Spain) where one of the biggest wineries is on track to have a fine total.
How will the potential quality level be for 2023? Sure, fewer grapes can mean flavor concentration and all that, but let’s keep the cart firmly behind the horse for the time being before any judgments are passed down.
The Featured Report of this newsletter goes a good deal eastward of Europe’s largest wine regions to look at the wines of Štajerska, Slovenija with a full Tasting Report available for subscribers. Perhaps this isn’t a region you’ll readily be aware of, but they’ve been making excellent whites ever since the breakup of Former Yugoslavia and lately, they’ve come to market with some stellar red wines.
Then we have a great indepth piece by Sergey Panov on the rampant corruption of the Russian Sommelier Association (*). Some are even calling for it to be expelled from the International Sommelier Association.
It's also mid-September which means that another anniversary has come to pass for Hudin.com. Do have a look at the new features introduced (*) on the site as well as even more membership options.
Drink well, be well.
(*) Free to read
The Featured Report
I love Slovenia as while not a big country, it has a great deal to offer whether that be: great food, amazing scenery that goes from Mediterranean to Alpine or then of course, the wines. Here I take a look at their largest region, found in the northeast of the country and is the southern third of Greater Styria.
The Featured Essay
Sergey Panov delves into the sordid corruption at the heart of the Russian Sommelier Association and why a good number of people are calling on the greater International Sommelier Association to expel it from their ranks as they break essentially every code of conduct.
And Now This
Ever find yourself in Tarragona, Catalunya and in the need of something more than overpriced tapas at the base of a Roman column? Have a look at this tucked away gem of a dining experience.
At one point a group in Croatia dubbed themselves “Grand Cro” and thought they were the best of the best. In the meantime, other winemakers have been quietly toiling away on some truly stupendous wines at the top of their game like this Lorko from Crvik.
Sparkling wines in the Priorat? Well, yes… and no. This first-ever festival was a celebration of the rather unique bubbles coming out of what is very much a red wine land.
Newsletter Exclusive: Do you know the backstory on “that” photo of grapes in a pair of hands? For a limited time, newsletter subscribers can read this really amazing story (*) for free from our archive.
The Featured Wine
It’s very easy to take potshots at the Crianza category in Rioja given how much of it has been relegated to the discount shelf in supermarkets. But, while this wine is very affordable at 9€, it’s also quite stellar at the 93pts. It’s highly recommend to search out if looking for classic Rioja style.