Whether you call it Rebula or Ribolla Gialla, the flagship grape of Slovenia’s Brda region is a bit of a rebel. This shows in the way it hung on here against a tide of international interlopers and in the way it reveals its best when fighting for life on the region’s steep slopes and dry, rocky soils. Rebula accounts for one fifth of region’s vines and is a key part of Brda’s identity.
Brda is a picture postcard, stunningly beautiful region of green hillsides dotted with vines, olives and cherries.
About 30% of its hills lie over the border in Italy’s Collio vineyards straddling the border. It’s really a single region divided by national borders, but politics don’t change geography. This September producers from both countries came together at the “Brda Home of Rebula” masterclass to show their shared values and belief in Rebula as a flagship grape for the region.
Both Brda and Collio mean “hills” and 85% of the vineyards are on steep slopes. The region also has a special microclimate, benefitting from the warmth of the nearby Mediterranean during the day and cool breezes from the Alps at night, helping to keep the grapes both fresh and healthy. Another notable feature is the Opoka soil derived from compressed mudstone and sandstone layers with lots of calcite. It drains well and allows vines to root down more than 10m to avoid summer stresses. Today the region is home to many of Slovenia’s best producers, as well as several renowned Italian names. International grapes can be great here, but it’s Rebula that can really put Slovenia on the map. It has all the hallmarks of a great grape – it’s actually half sibling to Chardonnay, Furmint and Riesling with just as much quality potential (though abused as high-yielding work-horse grape in the past). Even better, it has lovely natural acidity and ripens fully at moderate alcohol levels. It is incredibly versatile: making great traditional method sparkling wine as well as lively, fresh whites and layered complex age-worthy versions. It can also do fantastic skin-contact, orange and amber wines, sometimes aged in amphora (indeed this region is an epicentre for the revival of these styles). It even makes wonderful passito sweet wines.
Brda & Collio – Rebula/Ribolla wines, vintages 2018 to 2011
This September producers from both countries came together at the “Brda Home of Rebula” masterclass to show their shared values and belief in Rebula as a flagship grape for the region.
Classic Rebula Wines
Ščurek, Rebula 2018 89
A benchmark example of young fresh Rebula from a fifth-generation family winery, showing inviting aromas of pear and acacia, fine texture in the mouth and vibrant freshness.
Moro, Rebula Margherita 2018 90
Made from gently dried Rebula grapes and matured in ceramic vessels. Aromas of wild honey and yellow plum are followed by lovely rounded flavours, gentle acidity and a salty tang.
Dolfo, Rebula 2018 90
Bone dry fresh wines are the hallmark here. Lemon peel and meadow flowers lead onto a restrained but elegant palate of white peach and zesty freshness.
Medot, Rebula Journey 2018 89
Named for the founder’s journey from state cellar to private estate. It brings together the freshness of young Rebula with the texture and complexity of skin-contact, showing notes of salted lemon and quince.
Zanut, Rebula 2017 89
One of the first new era private wineries. Sunny vineyards and minimal intervention result in a generous golden wine with honey, baked apple and orange peel notes and a textured iodine finish.
Mature Rebula Wines
Jermann, Ribolla Visvik 2017 93
Refined and beautifully pure Rebula from a Brda vineyard belonging to a renowned Italian wine family. Green melon, jasmine and lemon peel with a fine mineral finish.
Ferdinand, Rebula Época 2017 94
Beautifully harmonious oak-fermented Rebula with a bouquet of mango, orange zest and vanilla. Ripe and rounded to taste with exotic fruit and tangerine notes.
Edi Simčič, Rebula Fojana 2017 96
A new single-vineyard release from 37-year-old vines. Toasted pine nut, honey and quince aromas lead onto lovely intensity of poached pear and pineapple with a lingering mineral backbone.
Marjan Simčič, Rebula Opoka Medana Jama Cru 2016 96
64-year-old vines and 16 days of maceration give a wonderful amber wine with complex aromas, amazing mouth-filling texture with notes of mango, orange peel, honeysuckle and great ageing potential.
Klet Brda, Rebula Bagueri Superior 2016 96
The best grapes from the best vineyards of this dynamic cooperative. An elegant, classy wine with a bouquet of acacia honey, mirabelle and camomile, then refined silky texture and great length.
Extended Skin Contact Wines
Kristian Keber, Brda 2016 92
Rebula with Sauvignonasse and Malvasia, fermented naturally in cement then 2 years in large oak giving a wild, spicy wine with lots of expression, exotic fruit complexity and salty grip.
Erzetič, Amfora Belo 2015 95
Fantastically complex but beautifully balanced Rebula, made by 7 months of maceration in amphora. A vivid orange wine with notes of candied peel, peach and spice and a lingering saline finish.
Radikon, Ribolla 2014 92
A legendary name in the world of orange wines. This is a cloudy deep orange wine, rich and structured to taste, firm and saline with great length and ageing potential.
Gravner, Ribolla 2011 95
Gravner pioneered the revival of natural orange wines and fermenting in buried clay amphorae. Huge expression with dried apricot, caramel and marmalade then layers of complexity and a tannic, salty structure.