Slovenian producers near to the town where the new US First Lady, Melania Trump, grew up have released a wine in her honour and hope it can help them promote the area’s work with the Blaufränkisch grape variety.
First Lady wine went on sale in the circular cellar at Sevnica Castle in Slovenia and the first 300 bottles sold out in three days.
Another 2,000 bottles of the Blaufränkisch wine are ready for sale in the 12th century castle’s gift shop and the town centre’s tourist office.
Melania Trump, who this year became US First Lady after the election of her husband Donald Trump as president, has nothing to do with the wine other than she grew up in the small industrial town – then part of Yugoslavia – before becoming a model. Her name was Melanija Knavs.
Made by four local winemakers and priced at €27.90, First Lady wine is twice as expensive as the shop’s other premium Blaufränkisch wines – usually sold under the grape’s local name, Modra Frankinja.
‘Some people suggested we should sell it for €500, but I think it’s a fair price,’ Rok Petančič, castle steward, told Decanter.com. ‘The sales are going well, though we haven’t started promoting it yet.’
Other products in the First Lady collection include salami made from a rare breed of local pig (Krškopoljc), chocolates and beauty creams.
Rok said that he wasn’t deterred by reports that Melania hired Slovenian law firm Pirc Musar & Partnerji to deter local entrepreneurs from cashing in on her name and image last year.
‘We have good wine, we have the best salamis and we have other products that are very good for the area; we shouldn’t be afraid or feel ashamed of offering them to a wider audience.’
All four of the winemakers involved, Mastnak, Kozinc, Kobal and Kerin, contributed the equivalent of two barriques from the 2015 vintage. One had been matured in new oak, two in two-year-old barriques and the rest in a 1,000-litre barrel.
‘It’s not a strong a wine, it’s gentle like Melania,’ Lojze Kerin said at his family winery, where the sign above the door reads ‘Hiša Frankinje’ (House of Frankinja).
Sevnica (pronounced seːu̯nitsa) is in the heart of Posavje, the smallest of Slovenia’s three wine regions and the only one producing more red than white wine.
‘I think this is one of the best ways we can promote our winemakers, our tourism and Blaufränkisch as a variety, which is very important for us as we want to become a centre for Blaufränkisch. We are becoming a centre in Slovenia but in the wider area we still have a lot of work to do,’ Rok said as he served Blaufränkisch made from the castle’s own small vineyard.
Last year, researchers from Germany’s Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants said that both Blaufränkisch and Blauer Portugieser varieties ‘very probably’ originated in Lower Styria (Slovenia).