Slovakia may be the last country you think of when it comes to naming wine countries. This small country in the middle of Europe has been fermenting grapes into its finest form, since the days of the Ancient Roman Empire. One look at the map and you will see the latitude that cuts through the famed French winemaking regions of Burgundy and it’s Cote d’Or, also runs by Slovakia.
The country is located in Central Europe with climate conditions similar to those of the neighbouring winemaking countries: the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Austria. Its winemaking is concentrated in the southern part of the country. Primarily on the southern, south-eastern, and southwestern slopes of the Carpathians Mountains. This area takes up approximately two-thirds of Slovakia’s total area.
Today, about 50 000 tonnes of grapes are produced from more than 15 000 hectares of vineyards in the six wine-growing regions. These wines are distinctly characterful as a result of a unique terroir (the combination of soil, climate, altitude, and topographical position).
The six different growing regions in the country, all with varying conditions and elevations, mean that you can expect a delectable range of reds, whites, and rosés. Slovakian soil, which contains sediments from extinct volcanoes and granite, has also played a role in enhancing the distinct flavor of the wine. So here are the 6 wine regions with their special varieties.
Nitra Winegrowing Region
Wines that were indulged by Great Moravian monarchs, the English queen, and by the highest religious dignitaries come from the historically sacred Nitra wine region. It is a geographically and varietally diverse region, therefore typically Slovak.
The originality of the location is defined by their 4 rivers and their two mountain ranges, creating a distinct microclimate and unique soil composition.
The famous Topolcianky vineyards are located in this region. Topolcianky has in its collection a vast selection of wines that have been awarded in international competitions. They grow mostly the Blaufrankisch, Dunaj and Muller Thurgau varieties.
The soils contain a high level of mineral foundation resulting in a great diversity of vineyards in this region. This is a very warm and dry lowland climate region.In addition, at the beginning of September, there is an event called “vinobranie” . And here you can have a tour and taste all the wines from the region while learning something new.
Tokaj Winegrowing Region
Tokaj’s unique position in Europe rivals that of Bordeaux in France or Chianti in Italy. Tokaj region produces some of the world’s most celebrated dessert wines. This small Slovak region, posses the northernmost portion of the designated Tokaj region, shared with Hungary.
The Slovak Tokaj region consists of seven villages and approximately 908 hectares of vineyards. It is the smallest of Slovakia’s six protected wine regions and one of the earliest protected wine regions in the world. Some claim that it is the oldest. Others will argue that it is second to Italy’s famous Chianti wine. Either way, it was a favorite among many notable European monarchs, artists, writers, and composers. ( Photo: Tomas Macik cellar)
Tokaj wine enjoyed a glorious chapter in its history during the time of prince Rakoczy II, who regularly sent deliveries of Tokaj wine to the French court of King Louis XIV (1638-1715).
Tokaj wine was also fancied by Russian Emperor Peter the Great, as well as his successor, Catherine II. The famous Tokaj claim made by French King Louis XIV continues to stand its ground even today: “Vinum Regum, Rex Vinorum“ (Wine of Kings, King of Wines).
Made from three principal grape varieties, Furmint, Lipovina, Muškát žltý (Muscat yellow), its unique flavor comes from a type of fungus that attacks the grapes when they are still on the vine. In France, it is affectionately known as ‘noble rot’ for its ability to produce noble quality wines. Therefore, the french, no strangers to winemaking, have long used it to create their tasty dessert wines.
The soil is predominantly rocky and of volcanic origin. It is capable of absorbing sunshine during the day, which continues to radiate at night, causing the land to keep its warmth even after a chilly night.
Small-Carpathian Wine Growing Region
Wines from this region come from the heart of Europe, as well as from its borderline. Its main cities Modra and Pezinok, are just a short drive from Bratislava, which makes it one of the favorite wine destinations for both locals and tourists. The region stretches from the confluence of the Danube and Morava rivers, all the way to Čachtice. Known for its infamous countess Elisabeth Báthory, who murdered 600 young virgins and bathed in their blood. Characteristic for this region are large differences between daytime and night-time. Its temperatures, reaching up to 15° Celsius during the vegetation period.
Golguz Winery. It is one of the vineyards with the most awards and recognitions for the quality of its wines in the country.
South-Slovak Wine Growing Region
Velkeer vineyards. Are bordering Nitra and the south Slovak wine region. It is a family vineyard that has stood out for its production quality. And it has been exporting wines around the world.
In the north of the Danube river lies a unique corner of the Slovak winemaking wealth. This area has been blessed by its location, sunshine, and microclimate. This region produced marvelous Welschriesling. Wines with attributes, ranging from late harvest to raisin selections, ice and straw wines, they all share an undeniable terroir. South-Slovak wine-growing region also prides itself in its beautiful Chardonnay and Sauvignon. Here you can find the unique central European version of Cabernet Sauvignon and Dunaj, Slovakia’s newest jewel. This is the warmest part of Slovakia with the highest temperatures during the vegetation period. Therefore, the temperatures can stay at or above 30° Celsius for extended periods of time.
Central-Slovakian Winegrowing Region
This wine region is located south of Zvolen, covering the central part of Slovakia, near the Hungarian border. Wines from the Central Slovakia wine region is a product obtained exclusively by total or partial fermentation of grapes. The microclimate provides wines with their youthful freshness and purity and reflecting the generosity of the local natural environment. Five white wines are noteworthy: Welschriesling, Gruner Veltliner, Müller-Thurgau, Gewürztraminer, Pinot blanc. Saint Laurent and Blauer Portugieser carry the torch of the Slovak tradition of red wines, with a modern twist. On the other hand, Cabernet Sauvignon serves as evidence of the unusual potential o
Eastern-Slovak Winegrowing Region
The extinct volcano of the Vihorlat mountain range and the rolling border of Eastern-Slovak hills, frame up the area of the youngest winegrowing region in Slovakia. Its wines have soaked the composition of the volcanic soils. The vulcanic foundation of the Vihorlat mountain range forms the foundation of the vineyards‘ fertile soil.
It is home to Welschriesling, Silvánske zelené, Dievčie grape variety and Muller Thurgau. This are wines that are sufficiently extractive and spicy. On the other hand, Blaufränkisch (Frankovka modrá) and the increasingly Pinot noir represent the blue varieties.
Temperatures remain extremely stable throughout the entire vegetation period, ranging from 24° C during the day to around 16° C at night.
Slovak grape varieties
The quality of the grapes determines a good wine. There are currently 37 officially recognized varieties of grapes in Slovakia. All of them can be used for the production of high-quality wine. This includes varieties found all over the world, but Slovakia masterfully produces varieties that are typical for central Europe. Some of them are Welschriesling, Riesling, Pálava, Moravian Moscatel, Muller-Thurgau, and Gruner Veltliner.
The undervalued gem among blue wines is the Blaufrankisch, in Slovakia more widely known as Frankovka modrá. It’s characterised by its deep red colour, medium body, late ripening and a hint of peppery spice. Frankovka modrá together with Andre and Neronet represent the blue varieties.
But the true gems are the varieties cultivated and originated in Slovakia. Their taste personifies a piece of the country, as well as a piece of their own skill, tradition, and soul. We are talking about the Devín, Milia, Noria, Sylvanian green and the star, the Dunaj.
Dunaj is the most widely known Slovakian-invented variety, created in 1958 at the Vine Research Institute in Bratislava, gets its name from the longest river in Slovakia, the Danube. These wine varieties cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Finally, I can’t omit the Tokaj varieties – Furmint, Lipovina, and Muškát žltý (Muscat yellow) and their unique growing and winemaking technologies. After all the Tokaj wines are the wines of kings.
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