Top Slovenian wine: Žametna črnina / Black velvet

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Žametna Črnina is a well-known red Slovenian wine grape variety. Žametna Črnina is one of the oldest domesticated grape varieties in Slovenia, not to mention it is also one of the top Slovenian wines, that come from the oldest vineyards in Slovenia.

This week we take you on a virtual tasting trip to the oldest vineyard in the world, where we will discover one of the top Slovenian wines – Žametna Črnina.

Like we stated in the intro Žametna Črnina (also known as Black Velvet or Žametovka) is one of the oldest domesticated grape varieties in Slovenia. Žametna Črnina is also well known on the Dolenjska region – from their wine Cviček.

Over the years Žametna Črnina has been known under a variety of synonyms including Kavcina Crna, Kapcina Kavtchina, Koelner blau, Žametovka, Koelner Blauer, Zametasta Crnina, Zametna Crnina and Zametnina Crnina.

About Žametna Črnina

Žametna Črnina was hugely popular in Styrian vineyards, even more so in the now known Doelnjska wine region, located in southeast Slovenia. Žametna Črnina or Black velvet produces a pure red variety of wine.

Žametna Črnina predominantly thrives in the Dolenjska region. Black Velvet has a bright red color of wine and it has a distinct raspberry aroma. All that combined with a slightly higher acidity makes this wine perfect for blends.  Winegrowers in Slovenia have traditionally used it to make a number of precious Slovenian wines (like Cviček), lending them Black Velvet’s characteristic flavor.

Žametna Črnina is a late variety (ripens in the middle of October), moderate vigor, requires a better vineyard location. It is relatively resistant to winter frost, but less against the spring frost. Since the beginning of budding to full maturity of the grapes takes about 170 days.  Žametna Črnina grapes tend to ripen to high sugar levels and to produce rich wines with noticeable sweetness and residual sugars.

Žametna Črnina from the oldest vineyard in the world

A single vine of Žametna Črnina growing in the Slovenian town of Maribor is estimated by the Guinness Book of Records to be the oldest living vine still producing fruit in the world at over 400 years of age

The Maribor vineyard has seen a lot in its 400 years. From numerous medieval fires to vine lice and other plagues that wiped out all of its older brethren across the continent, and even Allied bombings during the Second World War that partially destroy the house on which it lives.

The attached house now serves as a museum dedicated to teaching visitors all there is to know about the wine culture of the region. The museum offers guided tours, and the house also boasts a wine shop and tasting room with an unparalleled collection of local wines.

Since 2015, the floors of the house have also included an incredible artistic ode to the vine, in the form of a large flowing mosaic that tells stories of Maribor’s past and draws on some five millennia of ornamental tradition. While the old vine, which is of the Žametna Črnina or Black Velvet variety, still dutifully produces some 35kg to 55kg of grapes each year, you, unfortunately, won’t be able to sample, let alone purchase, the wine made from them (unless you’re a foreign head of state, high ranking dignitary, or perhaps the Pope), as the 25 liters or so is put into 250mL bottles specially crafted by famed Slovenian designer Oskar Kogoj and strictly used for national protocol gifts.

Pruning of the oldest vineyard in the world

Pruning of the Old Vine usually happens between February or March, and month-long Old Vine Festival, which culminates in Slovenia’s largest St Martin’s Day event on 11 November each year. Each year after the celebratory harvest, the workers of the city cellar carefully produce the wine, then bottle it in a limited series of only a hundred 250 ml bottles. 

Žametna Črnina—Wine World Champion

Žametna Črnina, also known as Black Velvet claimed world champion title at the recent international Ljubljana wine competition, winning in a fierce competition against a number of sparkling wines, from Argentina, France, to New Zealand in 2008.

Source: Slovenska turistična organizacija & Wine Tasting Ljubljana