Cviček, the Giant of Dolenjska

Cviček has an attractive, light red colour with a slight ruby cast. Photo: Darinka Mladenovič

January 2009

Cviček is one of the most unique wines in Slovenia. Its secret is in blending various reds with white varieties. It has an attractive, light red colour with a slight ruby cast, and fresh fruity aromas, with an emphasis on red fruits (raspberry, cherry and red currant).

Janez Vajkard Valvasor, the great Slovenian historian, mentioned Marwein, a jolly wine of the Dolenjska region, in his work ‘The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola’. When mentioning the localities where Cviček grapes are grown, he lists Bučko, Trška gora and Vinji vrh. The name Marwein was preserved until the end of the 18th century, when the Gorska bukev wine legislation was no more in place.

Cviček is the only wine in the world made of both red and white grapes.

The legislation, valid since 1543, consisted of instructions and rules about growing vines and making wine. When the Illyrian Provinces were founded and the rules ceased to ensure control over the wine making process, the wine louse appeared and decimated Slovenian vineyards. Cviček was a mixture of those varieties that survived the louse, and was made in small quantities. Etymologically, the name is close to the Croatian word cvič, meaning whey.

The excessive sour tones, a consequence of over-early harvesting, bad cellaring and inadequate sorting, were the marks of Cviček up to a hundred years ago. Wishing to improve its quality, an experimental viniculture station was established in 1886 on Grm in Novo mesto that implemented improvements in agriculture. The investment was soon repaid as the quality of Cviček improved. Soon after the turn of the 19th century, Cviček became a type. Cviček would be their export product. As high-quality varieties were used, all surpluses of all other varieties were put into Cviček and it once again became a synonym for cheap wine. Thus it was until Slovenia’s independence, when the winemakers of Dolenjska decided Cviček would once again be on the wine lists of fine Paris restaurants.

Protected with the mark of a recognized traditional denomination (PTP)

Cviček contains flavonoids, so it is supposed to possess healing qualities. Photo: Darinka Mladenovič

Since 2001, Cviček made only in the Dolenjska wine region is protected with the mark of a recognized traditional denomination (PTP). A consortium of 11 top winemakers, which produces between one and a half and two million liters a year, ensure unified quality and, through self-regulation, certified geographic denomination. Because of that, Cviček’s quality and reputation are again at an enviable level.

When it comes to its composition, Cviček is one of the most unique wines in Slovenia. Its secret is in blending various reds (modra frankinja, žametna črnina – 70 per cent) with white varieties (kraljevina, laški rizling, rumeni plavec, zeleni silvanec – 30 per cent). Cviček is a dry wine, with low alcohol volume (between 8.5 and 10%) and somewhat higher acidity. It has an attractive, light red colour with a slight ruby cast, and fresh fruity aromas, with an emphasis on red fruits (raspberry, cherry and red currant). It charms with its lightness, ease of drinking and components well-suited to the dynamics of today, and the desire to eat healthily and moderately.

Cviček is an everyday wine, while its sparkling variety can be drunk as an aperitif. Besides the Italian Chianti, Cviček is the only wine in the world made of both red and white grapes. It should not be drunk after two years since production, as it becomes an increasingly tired and an uninteresting wine that loses its freshness and lively appearance after being matured for too long.

Because it contains flavonoids, Cviček is supposed to possess healing qualities. It is recommended for coronary diseases, loss of appetite, anaemia, weight-loss programmes, helping reduce cholesterol levels, as a means to destroy bacteria, when drinking hygienically questionable water, with diabetes and as an anti-aging and anti-blood clot remedy.

Text by Kornelija Ajlec, Sinfo, January 2009

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