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Winery #62: Atelier Kramar (Goriška Brda, Slovenia)

While planning the 500 Wineries Northeastern Italian wine tour, I realized how close we would be to the Italian-Slovenian border. With a quick Google Maps search, I found a winery just across the border… so why not pay a visit? The husband and wife team of the Atelier Kramar winery, Matjaž and Katja, quickly replied to my visit request, and soon we were crossing one of the most ambiguous borders on earth: a mere change in the quality of the road's pavement. Slovenia has the nicer paved portion in the picture:-)

In three years of intensive wine study, I have not come across any mention of Slovenia as a wine producing region. Our host, Matjaž, became our instructor for the afternoon as we learned about the Goriška Brda wine region and Atelier Kramer’s production methods. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, atelier means “an artist’s or designer’s studio or workroom.” Both Matjaž and Katja are classically trained artists who met while studying at Venice’s Academy of Fine Arts, with Matjaž producing works from various mediums like rocks and Katja focusing on painting. Unique pieces of art are strategically placed throughout the landscape and within the winery’s building. So yes, the estate is the couple’s atelier, with wine as their most recent artistic expression starting with their first vintage in 2004.

Matjaž provided us with a tour of the production facilities, and we had the opportunity to sample three wines directly from the stainless steel ageing tanks. Tasting directly from the tanks, we gained a glimpse into the future of the 2021 vintages of the Friulano and Ribolla white wines. Indeed, the future looks bright!

After our visit to the cellars, we were seated at an outdoor table overlooking the Atelier Kramer's expansive vineyards. At that point, Katja presented the most beautiful platter of homemade meats and cheeses aged in their cellar, as well as recently homemade bread and cherries from the region. During a formal wine tasting, most people frown upon introducing additional flavors to the palate in the form of snacks. Needless to say, Katja’s platter was too hard to pass up!

Matjaž led us through the tasting of nine wines, including a three-wine vertical tasting of the 2017, 2018, and 2019 Bohem produced with the white Friulano grape. Matjaž explained how through those years, he reduced the use of oak in the ageing process to deliver a more restrained influence of vanilla and smoke on the wine allowing the grape’s citrus and green fruit flavors to show through in the final wine.

Our favorite wine from the line-up was the 2020 Primario produced from the white Rebula (also known as Ribolla Gialla in Italian). According to Wine Grapes: A complete guide to 1,368 vine varieties, including their origins and flavors by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding, and José Vouillamoz, the first historical reference to Rebula dates back to 1296 when the Pope himself had to settle a disagreement between a Bishop and a Monastery on the selling of a wine with the name of Rabola. You know it must have been bad if the Pope needed to get involved! Due to the three days of skin contact prior to fermentation, the wine had hints of orange in the color. We found the peach and citrus aromas, refreshing acidity, and the very long finish extremely enjoyable.

500 Wineries gives an enormous THANK YOU to Matjaž and Katja for the outstanding wine experience at their estate in Slovenia! Our visit at Atelier Kramar ranks among the top 25% of all our experiences in the last twelve months. It’s definitely worth the visit!

Experience Rating: 4 Stars

Brodi's Rating: 2 Paws Up

Pet-Friendly: Yes

Experience Vibe: Private Experience, Production Facilities Tour, Tank Tastings, Seated Formal Tasting, Vertical Wine Tasting, Meat and Cheese Platter

Reservations Needed: Yes

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