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The minimal-intervention aka “natural” wine scene is alive and well in Slovakia. While the modern wine industry is fairly young (the late 1990’s), there are several producers who have eschewed conventional production. During our time in Slovakia, we found in interesting that the minimal intervention producers referred to conventional production as “technology wines”.
We visited two areas where the minimal-intervention wine scene is thriving, the villages of Levice and Strekov.
“Natural” Slovak Wines
Around the village of Levice, there are a group of three producers branding themselves as “Wines From Under The Volcano.” These vineyards are planted on the dormant volcano known as Sitnu, which towers over the area. This association is made of the wineries, Pivnica Čajkov, Pivnica Brhlovce, and Marvla Tindo. All three producers produce wines of minimal intervention and several are in the process of getting their vineyards certified organic. Of the three, we didn’t get a chance to taste the wines from Pivnica Brhlovce.
We really enjoyed our visit with Marvla Tindo. They are a fairly new producer looking to make a name for themselves. There is consistency across all the bottles and vintages we tasted – which can be a problem for this type of wine production.
The village of Strekov, south of Levice, is the more famous of the two villages. The population of Strekov and the surrounding villages is predominantly Hungarian. We visited three excellent producers Kasnyik, Mátyás, and Strekov 1075. Two more producers who follow this school of winemaking are nearby too, Tibor Melecsky (Strekov) and Bott Frigyes (village of Mužla).
All of these producers are producing good to very good wines. Stekov 1075 has made a name for themselves and the wines can be found in hip wine bars around the world. Mátyás makes bio wines that conventional wine drinkers will appreciate and Kasnyik has a distinctive house style. One of Bott Frigyes’ wines even made our Top 17 Wines of 2017.
Finding the “poopy barrel” at Strekov 1075, one of our most memorable cellar visits in 2017. We’re looking for the stinkiest barrel with sherry-style wine.
You can see our thoughts on the Slovak minimal intervention wine scene in the video below (~ 8minutes).
Exotic Wine Travel’s Picks
(You can find out more about our scoring system on the START HERE page.)
- Kasnyik, Nabobuliach Veltinske Zelené 2015
The Kasnyik Naboluliach Veltinske Zelené is made with semi-carbonic maceration. Whole berries of Grüner Veltliner are put into the barrel and topped up with fermenting grape juice. Beautiful notes of perfume, yellow-fleshed fruit, grass, and lime make up the flavor profile of the wine. It is a unique wine with rich texture and a slightly spicy finish. 4.0/5
- Kasnyik, Maria Cuvée 2015
The Kasnyik Maria Cuvée is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. It’s a natural, fruity Bordeaux blend. It has blackberry, black plum, candlewax, and black olive flavors. This is ripe, delicious, and medium bodied. The wine has a long and spicy finish, it’s nowhere near its peak yet. 4.2/5
The Kasnyík Maria Cuvée 2015 is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. I wasn’t excited to taste this wine neither was I ready to be impressed because “it’s yet another Cabernet”. Besides, can these varieties really ripen well in Slovakia? Oh yes. This wine shows a discreet hint of capsicum on the nose and lots of black olive. On the palate, the Cabernet Franc dominates with bright flavors while the Cabernet Sauvignon kicks in on the end palate. It’s enviably luscious and round on the palate with intense fruit flavors.
- Marvla Tindo, Albina 2016
Named after the owner’s grandmother, the Marvla Tindo Albino is a single vineyard white wine made from Pessac Leanka, Pinot Blanc, and Traminer. It’s a bigger bodied natural wine, full of salinity, flowers, and white-fleshed fruit. The mineral notes take center stage on the buttery finish. 4.2/5
- Marvla Tindo, Murum Cuvée 2013
The Marvla Tindo Murum Cuvée is a blend of Alibernet, Pinot Noir, and Andre (a cross of Frankovka x St. Laurent). Dark fruit, grass, fall leaves, and sweet cedar flavors jump out of the glass. As a dense red wine from a cooler area, it is full bodied and has a lot of complexity. The tannins are ripe and rich. It’s a delicious wine that begs for more bottle aging. 4.1/5
- Mátyás, Somlyó 2016
A cuvée of different batches of Pinot Blanc made in different ways and unfiltered. This is wild with bright tropical fruit and yeast flavors. The Mátyás Somlyó is rich in texture, this is crazy-cool and exciting. In between a quirky natural wine and a clean conventional wine. 4.2/5
- Mátyás, SaraDora 2013
The Mátyás SaraDora is named after Mr. Mátyás’ two granddaughters who were born in the same year. This is varietal Welschriesling on the skins for two weeks and one year in the barrel. Amber in color, this is very cloudy. Dried apricots, fall leaves, pumpkin seed oil, and tangerine peel. Full bodied amber wine with juicy, citrus acidity and chewy tannins. Outstanding stuff that should be sought out. 4.3/5
- Pivnica Čajkov, Traminer Kruhe 2015
The Pivnica Čajkov Traminer Kruhe is a macerated white wine made with Traminer (Gewürtztraminer). It has notes of tea leaves and brown apple mixed with the Traminer flavors of lychee and intense yellow flower flavors. Very mineral and medium bodied macerated wine with a slightly spicy finish. 3.8/5
Yay! Had the chance to try another amber wine from Slovakia. The nose shows immediate signs of oxidative style but yet the “brown apple” and “tea” notes aren’t overpowering. The intensely sweet and floral varietal characteristics of Traminer are retained here. On the palate, it’s juicy. The finish brings a hint of spiciness along with appropriate sweet tannins. It’s an enjoyable wine. Don’t mind doing it again.
- Slabodne Vinárstvo, Partisan Cru 2012
Slabodne Vinárstvo is located in the Nitrianská Region. We didn’t visit this producer because of schedule constraints but managed to buy a bottle in a restaurant.
The Slabodne Vinárstvo Partisan Cru is a blend of Frankovka, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Alibernet aged in used oak for 18 months. It’s beautiful minimal intervention red wine. Full of red fruit, white pepper, earth, and capsicum. The wine is a tad raw but it’s light and juicy. Low alcohol at 12.5% makes this enjoyable to drink. 4.0/5
- Strekov 1075, Heion 2015
Zsolt Sütó has become well known in the natural wine world and is somewhat of a local celebrity. He’s funny and enthusiastic. When he picked us up from the guesthouse it was cold and snowy. The first thing he said to us was, “welcome to winter!”
The word Heion means “on the skins”. Zsolt was inspired by Čotar (Slovenia) to start making orange wine. The Strekov 1075 Heion is made from Welschriesling that spent two weeks on the skins. Orange peel, melon, fresh apricot, and lemon flavors dominate the wine, it is very sour on the palate. The wine has a beautiful texture with low levels of tannin and a lemonade-like finish. 4.4/5
- Strekov 1075, Veltlín 2015
The Strekov 1075 Veltlin is Grüner Veltliner made in the Vin Jaune style. This was Charine’s favorite wine from Strekov 1075. It has flavors of flint, orange peel, yellow peach, and dandelion. The wine is round and rich on the palate with a spicy and a long finish. It’s a wine that would appeal to both natural and conventional wine drinkers. 4.3/5
- Strekov 1075, Portugal 2015
“Do you want to taste the best Portugieser in the world?” asked Zsolt. When somebody asks a question like that, of course, you say yes.
The Strekov 1075 Portugal is made from Blauer Portugieser. It has flavors of black fruit, brambleberry, white pepper, and earth. It’s a juicy red wine with easy-going tannins. The wine is tart and delicious, it will please many palates. There is only one problem with this wine Zsolt told us, “after airing for five hours, the mouse is coming (mousiness on the finish) .” 4.2/5
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are unsolicited and have not been paid for in any way by governmental bodies, enterprises, or individuals. We do not sell editorial content as that would destroy the legitimacy of our reviews and the trust between Exotic Wine Travel and its readers.