Two young, former flower-growers producing small batches of award-winning naturally sweet wines at their boutique winery in the south of Slovakia, wines, Žitavské vinice is a young winery with big ambitions. In the seven years of their existence, they have quickly earned respect, both nationally and internationally, winning numerous awards in many prestigious wine competitions such as the IWC, AWC and even at Tokaj itself, no mean feat in the capital of sweet wine. Their success includes a whole string of gold medals, Château Topoľčianky gaining the title of absolute champion in the category of sweet wine, being ranked as one of best 30 in the world, top Slovakian winery and the list goes on...
Tomas Strelinger and Jozef Teplan graduated from the Slovak University of Agriculture as gardeners and decided to turn their hand to wine-making. They started off with 2ha of vines in Cernik, later adding a further 2.5ha, and were quick to master the skill of wine-making. Their innovative and imaginative approach is bringing a breath of fresh air to the Slovakian wine world. Their wines are handcrafted, they honour traditions and the terroir, and shun modern technology, believing that ‘the most advanced things are created by nature itself’. They believe that just as each person is something special, so is each variety and so strive to maintain a strong varietal character in their wines, to preserve the essence of the variety, but to add the unmistakable signature of Žitavské Vinice. Tomas, in the vineyard, and Jozef, in the winery, show incredible intuition for the creation of great, long-lived wines.
In addition to their naturally sweet wines, produced in 0.375l and even 0.2l bottles, crafted from a wide range of both black and white grapes, they also produce dry red and white wine, both from international varieties and local varieties, such as Devín and Dunaj. They have great hopes for these two varieties, which they hope will help to put Slovakian wine back on the map. Devín is a crossing of Gewürztraminer and something akin to Grüner Veltliner, and Dunaj was crossed to give a full-bodied, fruity red wine despite being produced in a relatively cool climate, a drinkable wine, a bit like Primitivo. They are also playing with Nitria.
The whites are kept on their lees and the reds are aged in Slovenian oak, as French oak is too expensive for them at the moment, but they have plans to make some comparative experiments in the future.
The sweet wines, intriguingly, all have a number after the varietal on the label, this is in fact the degree of sugar, so you can tell at a glance just how sweet the wine is.