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Salon of Decanter medal winners 2023: Celebrating winemaking success in Slovenia

Indigenous varieties and quality-driven winemaking techniques have helped fuel success across the Balkans, as showcased at the 9th annual Salon of DWWA medal winners in Slovenia’s capital.

Now in its 9th edition, the Salon of Decanter Medal Winners was held last week in Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana, featuring 42 producers and their recently awarded wines from the 2023 Decanter World Wine Awards.

Around 300 wine lovers, trade and press from more than 10 countries gathered together on 4th July to taste some 130 award-winning wines, including 14 Gold medal winners from across Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia.

Attendees at the 9th annual Salon in Ljubljana. Credit: Peter Irman

The Balkans had much to celebrate this year with Serbia’s first ever Best in Show as well as top Gold performances for Croatia and Slovenia.

Croatia won 44 more medals compared to last year – nine more Golds, 18 more Silvers and 20 more Bronze. The majority of wines awarded were white single-varietal wines, although 90 out of the county’s 358 medals were awarded to red wines, including a Gold for Kozlovic Winery’s Teran Selekcija 2021, presented at the event.

Slovenia had its best-ever Gold and Silver performance with 12 Gold and 80 Silver medals, signifying an overall increase in quality. In total, the country saw a record 195 medals awarded.

Credit: Peter Irman

The Gold medal-winning wines from Slovenia available to taste on the day included:

  • Bjana, Cuvée Prestige Extra-Brut, Goriška Brda, Primorska 2018
  • Bužinel, Wine Brothers Chardonnay, Goriška Brda, Primorska 2021
  • Domačija Bizjak, Sivi Pinot, Goriška Brda, Primorska 2022
  • Gašper Wines, Selekcija Cabernet Franc, Goriška Brda, Primorska 2020
  • Klet Brda, A Plus, Goriška Brda, Primorska 2017
  • Klet Brda, De Baguer Merlot-Cabernet Franc, Goriška Brda, Primorska 2017
  • M-Enostavno Dobra Vina, Extrem, Štajerska Slovenija, Podravje 2020
  • Ptujska, Pullus Sauvignon, Štajerska Slovenija, Podravje 2022
  • Simčič Karol & Igor & Marijan, Selection Vineyards Sivi Pinot , Goriška Brda, Primorska 2020
  • Zuljan, Merlot, Goriška Brda, Primorska 2018

Bužinel’s award-winning wines sampled on the day, including its Gold awarded Wine Brothers Chardonnay 2021. Credit: Peter Irman

During DWWA judging week, co-chair Andrew Jefford said: ‘You look at newer regions like the Balkans, from where we get terrifically good entries. Increasingly we see real literacy of winemaking coming from it and similar regions, so that is very exciting to monitor.’

Jefford’s comments were emulated at the event by long-time DWWA judge, Slovenian wine expert and organiser of the Salon, Robert Gorjak who added, ‘The quality of wine in Slovenia is growing.’

Robert Gorjak speaking about the exemplary standards and quality wines of co-op Klet Brda. Credit: Peter Irman

The annual Salon in Slovenia offers wine lovers and trade the opportunity to discover Decanter medal-winning wines in one place and is a chance for producers to showcase and celebrate their newly awarded wines.

This year there was more to celebrate than ever, and the success of the region was felt at the sold-out event.

Credit: Peter Irman

Simon Woolf, new joint regional chair for North, Central and Eastern Europe alongside Caroline Gilby MW at DWWA 2023, attended the event for the first time, taking part in the awards ceremony to congratulate all award-winning producers in attendance.

All medal winners in attendance were awarded their certificates from DWWA 2023 on stage. From left to right: Simon Woolf, Olivia Mason and Robert Gorjak. Credit: Peter Irman

More DWWA 2023 judges were in attendance too, including Saša Špiranec and Miquel Hudin.

Commenting on all DWWA results, and relevant to this year’s results from the Balkans, co-chair Michael Hill Smith MW said: ‘Decanter World Wine Awards has evolved through time, but it’s still kept to its core principle of regions being judged by regional specialists. What I’ve really enjoyed is that mixture of the old and the bold. There’s a nice mixture of experience and enthusiasm and youth.’

Croatian wine expert and DWWA judge Saša Špiranec (left) with owner of Gašper Wines, Gašper Čarman. Credit: Peter Irman 

This enthusiasm and youth, in particular, is very much felt in Slovenia – a country well worth a visit for wine lovers of classic styles and new wave and experimental wines alike.

Credit: Peter Irman

See below for the full list of producers who showcased their award-winning wines on the day:


  • Albiana Wines
  • Domačija Bizjak
  • Bjana
  • Klet Brda
  • Bužinel
  • Dveri Pax
  • Vinska klet Ferjančič
  • Vina Fornazarič
  • Vina Frešer
  • Gašper Wines
  • Vina Kotolenko
  • Kristančič Winery
  • Klet Krško
  • Vina Kulčar
  • Medot
  • M-Enostavno Dobra Vina
  • Vinska klet Metlika
  • Moro Wines
  • Nebó
  • Vini Noue Marinič
  • Protner
  • Ptujska klet
  • Puklavec Family Wines
  • Radgonske Gorice
  • Simčič Karol & Igor & Marijan
  • Penine Simonič
  • Aljoša Sirk
  • Marko Sirk
  • Ščurek
  • Vino Šibav
  • Kmetija Tomažič
  • Vinakras
  • Zalatel Wines
  • Posestvo Zarova
  • Zlati Grič
  • Zoria
  • Vinarstvo Zuljan


  • Kozlovic Winery
  • Kutjevo


  • Jovac Winery

North Macedonia

  • Popov Winery

Organiser and DWWA judge Robert Gorjak makes the opening speech for the awards ceremony. Credit: Peter Irman

Special thanks to Robert Gorjak and Belvin Wine School. Visit Belvin for more information.

Search all DWWA 2023 award-winning wines

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