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Among the most celebrated wineries in Eastern Slovenia, Marof is also perhaps the most ambitious in the Prekmurje region and its Goričko subzone. The winery is a collaboration between founder Stanko Polanič, who dreamed of demonstrating the tremendous potential of this long overlooked region, and Uroš Valcl, a former basketball player who grew up in his mother’s vineyard and joined Marof in 2009 for its third vintage. The vineyard sits upon an old aristocratic estate, once owned by the Hungarian Szspárys family. Valcl and Polanič today steward that same land with a gentle touch, seeking minimal intervention in the vineyard and cellar, where they focus on both international and Slovenian grape varieties, including the native Blaufränkisch, for which Marof has earned global acclaim. White wines are fermented with a few days of skin contact, in the typical Slovenian fashion, while all wines rely on ambient yeasts for spontaneous fermentation. The Marof style focuses on structure and ageability, with wines only released to the public after several years of maturation at the winery.
Uroš Valcl, winemaker
Uroš Valcl's journey began at the young age of 4 when his mother planted her own vineyard, meticulously grafting 12,000 vines by hand. This early exposure to viticulture instilled in him a love for the craft. In 1999, at the age of just 21, he produced his first wine, a Chardonnay that ranked highly in an international wine competition. Although he did not win, he dreamt of creating the best wine in the world, attracting visitors from all corners of the globe to witness the origins of his exceptional vines.
After a decade of honing his skills in his family vineyard, Uroš Valcl received a job offer that led him to Goričko, an unfamiliar region to him at the time. This new opportunity brought him face-to-face with the beauty of the landscape, including volcanic basalt blocks in a quarry and ancient Sauvignon Blanc vines in the Bodonci vineyard. Recognizing the uniqueness of the location, Uroš Valcl joined MAROF winery in 2009, marking the beginning of a fruitful partnership.
Uroš Valcl's winemaking philosophy has evolved over time. While he initially aspired to create the best wine, he now seeks to produce the most honest wine. He believes that agriculture and winemaking should be cultural activities, rooted in a connection to the land. Like Vinalia, Uroš Valcl recognizes the importance of preserving the thousand-year-old culture of wine and aims to create wines that reflect their terroir and embody the authenticity of the region.
With a profound desire for people from all over the world to visit the vineyards and witness the origins of his wines, Uroš Valcl strives to cultivate a deep appreciation for the connection between the earth and the wine in the hearts of wine enthusiasts worldwide. His commitment to honesty, craftsmanship, and a deep respect for the land drives his winemaking practices and contributes to the exceptional quality of the wines produced at MAROF.
One of the most important red grape varieties of Central Europe, Blaufränkisch was of unknown origins up until 2016 when DNA analysis showed that it, perhaps surprisingly, is indigenous to Slovenia, where it is known as Modra Frankinja. It is also a parent variety to Zweigelt, with whom it shares much vineyard area in Austria and abroad. With distinctive earth and spice notes, Blaufränkisch ferments to delightful midweight reds of complexity and character.
The tiny country of Slovenia is a land of contrasts. Situated at the crossroads of several of the world’s great winegrowing regions—Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Hungary to the east, and Croatia to the south—you can sense the intermixing of all these forces, both culturally and in Slovenia’s winemaking traditions. Still, Slovenia celebrates a rich heritage all its own. The dragon imagery and lore decorate the capital of Ljubljana; The Julian Alps and Lake Bled, with its tiny island, fortify the northern border and provide a natural respite for visitors; and black truffles abound and are featured decadently in the local cuisines.
Goričko is a subzone of the larger Prekmurje PDO, Slovenia’s easternmost appellation abutting both Hungary and Austria. Here, the country’s hills give way for the great Pannonian Plain, a geographical force defining much of North Central Europe’s wine country and ending at Tokaj, home to the grape Furmint and legendary Hungarian dessert wine. Prekmurje, similarly specializes in an assortment of Central European grape varieties, including Furmint (here called Šipon), Laški Rizling, Muscat, Blaufränkisch (Modra Frankinja), and Zweigelt, alongside several international favorites, such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Noir. A largely agrarian area, in addition to vineyard, the region cultivates pumpkin, from which pumpkin seed oil, a local delicacy, is extracted.
Laški Rizling (Welschriesling), the Slovenian moniker for the more commonly heard Welschriesling, is an extremely old grape variety of nebulous origins. Despite its name, it has no proven genetic relationship to Riesling, though like Riesling it is also cultivated in Austria and Germany. The variety is widely harvested throughout Central Europe, and is the most planted grape in Croatia, where it is known as Graševina.
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