Vlado Estate Dancing Man Rare Meritage 2003
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Vlado Estate Dancing Man Rare Meritage 2003 Tasting Notes

The rubric on the Dancing Man website calls this Slovenian dry white wine “an uppity wine for the sophisticated cosmopolitan.” I agree with the entirety of that statement; this wine is both sassy and savvy. Composed of a blend of 8 grapes (Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay and some local varieties), the Dancing Man is a product of the Maribor region of Slovenia, which itself is part of the Podravski wine region in northeast Slovenia, centered around the Drava River valley and abutting Austrian Styria.

For those of you who always need to make an American connection, I will give you two: Maribor, Slovenia's second largest city, is the sister city of Pueblo, Colorado. The present governor of wine-rich California was born in nearby Austrian Styria. If there is a third American connection, it is the easy accessibility of this wine. Few Americans (outside of certain neighborhoods in Cleveland and some towns in northeast Illinois) have even heard of Slovenia. (I know about Slovenia because I was once married to a Slovenian-American beauty from Ottawa, Illinois.) We don't get too many of Slovenia's excellent wines because the country is small (about the size of New Jersey) and also because the Slovenians themselves drink the lion's share of their own production. Slovenia, by the way, was the first region to break away from Yugoslavia, in 1991. The country is well worth visiting, though for only $11, you can have it visit you in the form of this wine.

I have had my knuckles rapped in wine school for calling a wine golden, but go ahead and take out that ruler, teacher, since this wine is absolutely golden. Ouch! The wine gave me aroma notes of honey, dried apricot, peaches, pears, and sweet flowers. If you are thinking sweet in the mouth from all this, you are wrong, since this wine is mainstream dry. It has good, forward-pushing acidity. The palate notes are dried apricot and peach, with a touch of the tropical trio of mango, pineapple and a little distant banana.

The finish is the finest point of this wine; without it we would have a refreshing quaff, yet we truly have much more. Think of a can of peaches, in syrup, the expensive brand. Keep the feel and flavor of that syrup, and delete the sweet. Now add the alcohol, and try to imagine you've just been served a cocktail (let's call it the “Maribor”) by a bartender who has muddled the fruit the careful way; your mouth and your mind delight in every sense, but a voice inside you warns you not to have two. This delightful wine has that kind of feel.

Verdict: Sexy
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Slovenia is small, but it boasts three separate and highly varied wine regions, gorgeous countryside, and high quality wines.

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award


Maribor in Slovenia
Maribor, Slovenia's second city, is the hub of the Podravski wine region.

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