Ljubljana

Aleš Kristančič: The artist of Goriška Brda

08 Apr 2019
The man behind Movia, Aleš Kristančič, has been described as ‘the wine genius of Slovenia, ‘star of the Slovenian wine scene’, ‘a visionary’, ‘a genuine and complete showman’, ‘intensely focused, passionate and unpredictable at once’ and ‘oddly loveable’ - and that was only in a single article from Food & Wine magazine. After interviewing him for this book, we wholeheartedly agree with all of these descriptions, and would add that he is a true original, who has dedicated his life to producing wine on his own terms.

What makes wine from Brda unique?

I believe it’s all the components of the terroir, and especially the soil. We have a very long history of wine cultivation, and our roots are thoroughly connected to agriculture. But today it’s very difficult to speak generally about winemaking, because we are also different. Nowadays individual winemakers can make many different decisions about how they cultivate their vineyards.

How did Movia become such a renowned brand?

Movia was always private, that’s very important. Historically speaking, when you became part of a cooperative, which was normal here, your end product was a kilo of grapes, not a bottle of wine. That’s a very big difference. Our vineyards also have old vines, and the soil has always been treated in the same way - no herbicides or pesticides were ever used. When you plant a new vineyard, it’s mostly not for you, it’s for the next generation. Because if you’re a really serious wine producer, we know that the plant needs a long time to really give you its best.

You’ve said that the best school you went to was the school of your father. What were the most important lessons you learned?

Ah, haha! The most important lessons? The most important lesson is that if your job is making wine, then you can’t be sensitive to other people’s opinions. Of course you’re happier if you hear that they like the wine, but you just do your job. You can’t do any more than that. And you really have to dedicate your life to it. You have to give it more than you give your family. And maybe that’s not right, but that was the rule of my father.

How much of your personality goes into Movia wines?

You know I heard some stories about that. Some people say too much. Haha! But I never think about that. I’m doing the wine in my own way. I’m trying to do everything that’s possible.

Is it true that Hemingway was particularly fond of Movia wine?

You know, this is kind of bullshit. Hemingway was driving an ambulance here, and he had the idea for his book A Farewell to Arms. During that time you didn’t have a lot of wine. But Movia was always making wine, even during the war. So there is a big probability that Hemingway was drinking our wine.

Do you have anything in common with Hemingway?

Hahaha! I don’t know. This is something that maybe other people can say. I’m a farmer, and I like to work in a certain way. Sometimes I feel like I want to be isolated, I only want to drink my wines. I don’t want to be influenced by others. That is the process of creation without any connection to other wines or grapes. And sometimes you’re more in fashion, and sometimes not.

Is more of your work done in the vineyard or the cellar?

To make wine, you don’t need anything. You just need to be a good farmer. You need instinct of course. You need to observe. But you can get all the info you need about the vintage from the plants. You just need to understand that the plants are living things. When you start to see the pollen in the vineyard in the spring, you start to see the beginning of wine’s taste.

What’s your favourite time of year as a winemaker?

Springtime is very nice from the beginning, when you get to observe the plants in the vineyard. But it’s so much work! So if you ask me now, I would be happy if it were already September. But you know when it’s really nice? When you finish the harvest. When you finish the harvest and in the cellar you have the ‘glug, glug glug’ of fermentation, and you start to have this smell, this very nice smell. And outside the bad weather starts. It’s all very mystical.

This interview is taken from the book THE Slovenia Wine: Top 125 Experiences, which you can read more about here. In Ljubljana, Movia wines can be found at all premium wine shops, while Movia's charming wine bar can be found on Mestni trg in the old town.
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