CVIČEK: The Next Summer It-Wine

I first tasted this glass of joy about a year ago, at a tasting of European wines from lesser-known regions—bring on the Croatia , bring on the Greek . But my find of the day was Cviček : the lower-alcohol chilled light red from Slovenia. I was in love. I’d discovered the secret to happy, chilled red life—and everyone I asked about it didn’t know of it! I was the champion. For a moment. A few days later, a friend, not from the wine industry, texted me about a pop-up of some of the same wines at a local natural wine bar. He’d just done a mini tour of Slovenia and Croatia and was jazzed to re-experience them. I readily agreed to meet up. Mainly because I wanted more Cviček. And also to see my friend (shouts out to Paul). But also Cviček. Over a few (or more) glasses of it, I came to find out I was not the Cviček pioneer. My friend told me it was a favorite of his driving from place to place in his travels, as it was light, tasty, and just a damn good quaff. He knew. I want you to know too. Oh, right, and it is considered THE national wine of Slovenia. So obvi, they know. Let’s start with basic facts. Cviček comes from Slovenia, specifically the Dolenjska region, a ZOP (Zaščitena Označa Porekla, basically the same concept as an AOC or DOC). It’s within the larger region of Posavje, which lies in the southeast of the country—also known as Green Slovenia. The beyond lying in a ZOP, the name Cviček PTP is a protected name, with PTP standing for Priznano Tradicionalno Poimenovanje, which the OCW (Oxford Companion for Wine, my own personal wine bible along with Karen MacNeil’s) likens to Austria’s DAC which (alphabet soup be damned), I’m just gonna quote here “denotes…appellations of origin and regulated by grower-dominated regional wine committees and intended to define and promote a typical style and flavour profile.” That Cviček in your glass is regulated, in other words. The grapes in play are numerous, and there are blending requirements according to the official PDO document I tracked down. It must contain 40-60% Blauer Koelner (a red), 10-30% Modra Frankinja (a red perhaps better known as Blaufränkisch), and 10-15% Kraljevina (an acidic white). There can be no more than 10% of Laški Rizling (a white you might know as Welschriesling, no direct relation to Riesling), and no more than 15% of a handful of other red and white grapes including (amongst others) perhaps more familiar to you grapes like St. Laurent, Zweigelt, Gamay, Chardonnay, Gruner Veltliner along with grapes I promise you I am just learning of now like Ranina and Ranfol. One more fun fact for the acid heads out there: the grapes for Cviček are harvested 7-10 days before varietal grapes in the region. Revisiting this wine for this article was for you, but also a little for me. I’m gaga for it. The ones I managed to get my hands on in the US are made by Zajc , who makes two different cuvées, one in a 1-liter bottle as if they knew this was made for a thirsty crowd. I honestly think the best way to tell you more about this specialty is to describe the wines themselves: Zajc Cviček PTP It is 50% Blauer Koelner, 20% Blaufränkisch, 15% Kraljevina, and 15% Welschriesling. At 10% alcohol, it’s gentle but juicy in a way that makes me think of perfectly bursting, rightly ready red fruit (red cherries, raspberries, redcurrants), perhaps the result of being on delightfully southward-facing slopes? But there’s also some underripe berries and hints of the leaves too. Is that the volcanic soil speaking? Then there’s the cinnamon and baking spice and white pepper friendliness. Honestly, this is the effortlessly cool girl at the party you are scared to talk to, and when you do, wow, she’s as approachable and chatty as she is hip. Zajc Cviček Full Circle Made from the same proportions as the other bottling, but with “a return to the ancient winemaking traditions.” To wit, it lands at 9.5% abv, and there are no added yeasts, plus the wine is bottled sans filtration. It is quite similar to the prior bottle but a bit tarter—a little less cherry, a little more cranberry, with a touch more grip. And then something inherently savory, almost smoky, with meaty hints coating the palate midway through a sip and beyond. Saline elements weave their way in and out to boot. Still juice-tastic but with an indie spirit. The first shows more spice, and the Full Circle has more forest floor and a nubbly texture. Both are fantastic. Both are the cool girl. One more hip, one more hippy, both welcoming. Do your summer a favor and find a bottle of Cviček. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Want to read more from Ellen? Check out her recent articles: The Rebirth-ish of Sauvignon Blanc Ellen in Lalaland: Pride Month Style Happy Rosé Day…I Mean, Duh A Spritz in Your Summer Step Wine Women All Year Round Old World vs. New World: Tannat You can also listen to Ellen's podcast , The Wine Situation here . Check out her recent transcripts of the Final Five questions: Wine Situation Final Five! Kristie Tacey Wine Situation Final Five! Shaughn Buchholz


Full Circle Cviček

Summertime earthy wine. It’s the cranberry, the seashell, the all-red-berries plus forest floor. — a year ago

Severn, Serge and 6 others liked this


Cviček Red Blend

I want this to infinity. Cherry/raspberry more berries and a hot lick of cinnamon and white pepper. J’adore — a year ago

Severn, Serge and 4 others liked this