Avia (R) Slovenian Wine

I sometimes go to some discount food store. Grocery Outlet Bargain Market? Something like that.

It has “whatever isn’t selling” at other places. I start there and IF I can find something on my list, I buy it. Then hit Walmart or COSTCO depending on what’s the majority of my remaining list. After that, it’s Trader Joe’s or on up the list. Each tier being more expensive and more variety of better goods. This lets me get most of my generic groceries at good quality for cheap, and yet still have the special things (often at special prices) as desired.

Well, this GOBM store has a wine section that is just full of various wines. I’ve gotten BV (a high end label) there sometimes, along with some really cheap stuff. It all depends on who has too much of something in inventory. What intrigues me is that this creates a constant kaleidoscope of change. Brands and wines I’d never search out, never think of, or never try at $10 / bottle; but sold at discount for far less. Many domestic, some large number imports that didn’t move as well as the distributor contracted.

So a couple of days ago I had a New Zealand Chardonnay that was quite good. IIRC it was $5 / bottle. Sadly, I don’t remember the name. That’s the downside to this method of buying wine. IF you don’t keep track, well, a lot of brands go past the nose and lips and it’s not always easy to remember all the brands. Especially the next day ;-)

But today I’m trying the “2nd Tier” bottle I bought. (Tomorrow or the next day is the 3rd Tier $3.99 bottle…) For about $4 or $5 / bottle I got a nice little Sauvignon Blanc from Slovenia. Now not only did I not know that Slovenia made wine, I had no idea they made decent wine. This one is labeled Avia (R) and is very drinkable. No, it’s not going to be getting awards in France. It is more in the Italian Table Wine style. Very drinkable. Nice flavor. Fruity enough. Smooth enough. The only “downside” is a high sulfite level (so a round in the blender or some time breathing needed to avoid a sharp slightly sour effect). I run into this in many wines. Some imports more than domestic, but plenty of domestic wines too.

It really is the case that the best thing you can do for your wine drinking experience is find a way to ventilate wines to remove the sulfites that preserve them. I’ve found that a few seconds trip through the blender works wonders. My neighbor has a fancy device that you pour the wine through and it swirls around some spirals. I already own a blender so…

But back at the wine.

Other than the sulfite giving it more ‘bite’ out of the bottle than desired, it’s quite a drinkable table wine. The label says “hand harvested” and “estate bottled” and even “100% varietal”. From the Primorska Region, wherever that is. It also says “medium bodied, medium dry, with harmonized fruity flavors” and I’d agree with that. At 13% alcohol, it has some “ambition”.

I have no idea if I will ever see this wine again. I doubt many local liquor stores carry it, and the grocer having it will depend on the fates. BUT, if it is still there next week, I’m picking up some more…

In Conclusion

It’s a very odd experience, bottom fishing at the discount store. Some wines are great and fantastically low prices. Others are worth almost what you paid for that $4 bottle. Most of the time it’s the former with only a few of the latter, so on average well worth it. Just be prepared to turn the “so-so” stuff into wine coolers and move on.

Other wines surprise you. Something you just kind of like, but without any real reason. Nothing fantastic about it. Nothing shouting “It’s the NOSE!” or “Those chocolate overtones!!” (had that once in a Monterey Cabernet Sauvignon and went back and bought a case… then a couple of week later went back to buy another case and it was sold out…) Sometimes it is just “I’d really like another glass of that.”

And that, really, is enough to make a wine worth buying. I’d like another glass of this with my lamb “Salisbury steak” tonight. I’d like another glass of it with TV after dinner. I’d like another glass of it now as I head off to the kitchen to make dinner. Sadly, there’s only 3 glasses of it left in the bottle at the moment. So desert will have to be with something else. ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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10 Responses to Avia (R) Slovenian Wine

  1. E.M.Smith says:

    FWIW, the $3.99 bottle of “Lunatic White” (with handcuffs on the label!) ain’t bad either.

    Not a great wine. UPDATE: Maybe not even a really good wine. I’ve decided it is a good wine, but one that needs some food or cheese with it to make it shine. See comment further down.End Update Flavors stronger than the Avia (R) wine. Needs de-sulfiting too. But curiously interesting. Not as “drinkable” as in not a Table Wine (milder flavors and easy on the tongue) but more a sipping wine (stronger flavors and more richness if a bit stronger and asking for a cheese and cracker accompaniment…)

    From American Canyon California (north of Marin, at the entry to Napa.) 13.8% alcohol which is high for a white, and especially so for one that isn’t insipid and bland from the Central Valley grown hot and full of sugar but low on acid. This is something else. High sugars to get that alcohol, yet also strong in flavors.

    Bottled by “Lunatic Wines” with the tag line “Set yourself free”. No varietal mentioned.

    It’s an interesting wine, but I’m not sure why… Maybe a hint of raisin in the flavors?

    Hmmm….. I may have to buy more of it AND the Avia tomorrow…

    Research is such a demanding avocation ;-)

  2. p.g.sharrow says:

    White wine with strong flavor and high sugar/alcohol sounds like an “early press”. No skins in the ferment to give it color. Could be any variety grapes, but sounds like a Zin. “Hint of raisin” over mature grapes that have begun to raisin. A rare find indeed. If you like it, best buy more as it is a one of and. It should keep well.

    Great wines are made by GOD. It is up to the vintner not to screw it up…pg

  3. Another Ian says:



    Obviously no iron filings in the wine.

    Shades of some friends who sold out a motorcycles/general rural merchandise business and took up a fish and chips shop. Had overtones of chips fried in Castrol but was MUCH better tan that.

  4. Graeme No.3 says:

    The Primorska Region is in the west of Slovenia near the Adriatic. Avia brand is made in the Collio sub-region in the north west of the country very close to Italy (hence its district name).
    They have been making wine in Slovenia since Roman times, so they may have some idea by now.
    They exported a lot of sugary white to the UK and elsewhere in the seventies called Lutomer Riesling which wasn’t made from Riesling and was pretty awful. Some of their reds can be a bit rough.

  5. Verity Jones says:

    Looks like you got a bargain with that Lunatic White £21.50 retail in UK, although vintage may be different: https://www.winecellarclub.co.uk/browse-wines/luna-vineyards-lunatic-white-1 Luna Wines looks like a serious producer.

    Avia http://www.laureateimports.com/wines/avia/avia-sauvignon-blanc/ looks much more everyday

  6. Thomas C Bakewell says:

    In the darker ages of the last century one could buy three bottles of Algerian red wine for $5. Or some ‘robust’ reds from Bulgaria. My friends wouldn’t touch either, but the Algerian went well with a modest mutton curry. I ought to spend some internet time to see if the vineyards were destroyed by the later madness in Algeria.

    One could use one’s cell phone to photograph the better the labels on the “Mmmm, ain’t bad for less than a ha’penny/cc)” plonk.

  7. E.M.Smith says:


    I think you have pegged it. Likely a white made from ripe red grapes but off the skins. No variety listed, so could be a blend. Perhaps Zin with some Cab? Or a Merlot? Hard for me to say. Zin was very popular in the ’70s & ’80s and overplanted, now excess production. Would make sense to re-purpose some of it into a complex white. Harvested late in the season when the Zin production has topped out and nobody wanted more Zin in their cellars, would be an ideal time to pick up some interesting quality grapes at modest costs, then work some magic on it.

    @Graeme No. 3:

    Well that would explain why I liked it. Near Italy and with something of the Italian style to it. (See below for more explanation of my preferences)


    Who Knew!

    I guess that just goes to show my wine preferences are more pedantic. The more “interesting” and intriguing wine being a little less important to me than the somewhat more bland but drinkable wine. I tend to like Italian table wines for the same reason. They’re just easy to drink and not demanding of the context.

    Now that Lunatic White did pair well with some Ritz Crackers and some cheese. That seemed to light up the complexity better. (That is, gave it come context to work on). Clearly not intended for drinking solo, but as a side to a rich meal. Perhaps a butter saute of of a nice ocean white fish, sole or snapper. Add some steamed asparagus and a salad with a cheese topper and some creamy dressing and it would be right at home. In the context of a meal, I’d rank it much higher than I did when just drinking a glass of it.

    BTW, that’s the reason a good winery or wine tasting has a tray of neutral crackers and a couple of cheeses placed out during tastings. Some wines are only “right” in the context of some food. Tasted solo they are “not quite right” or “not impressive”, but when the cracker and cheese are added, they perform in their context and shine.

    Like a Cabernet Sauvignon vs Italian Red. The Cab in a glass by itself will be too dry, a bit too acidic. Sometimes a little harsh from the tannins and just overly strong flavors. Especially if a bit young (i.e. less than 10 years). But the Italian Red table wine is easy to drink and smooth, even young. Pair that Cab with a pepper crusted prime rib, it’s perfection. The Italian will be a bit bland and insipid. But put the Italian Red with an al forno pasta dish and it’s just right, yet can be drunk solo while service is happening.

    For most wines, there’s a context where they work. Very few wines are truly lost causes. My context is usually just “in the glass watching TV or reading” so I tend to the milder less complex clearer fruit notes styles. Yet I do eat… so sometimes I open one, try a small glass, and decide that one goes with dinner… occasionally “that one is for the chili lunch” ;-)

    @Thomas C.:

    Yes, I could. Over time I’d build up a decent catalog of wines. So why haven’t I?

    Well, I’m a cheapskate. Why pay $30 for a bottle when a similarly good one can be had for $4? So odds are quite high I’d not buy one of those better wines at full price. Instead I go back to the clearance cellar and roll the dice again.

    The rate of negative surprises has been quite low. I think I’ve made one batch of wine coolers in the last 3 years.

    So the cheapskate in me likes those odds… But the same wines rarely are in overage for long, so it’s a constant state of change and having a record of what was really good won’t find it on the shelves again most of the time.

    Looks like Algeria still has a wine industry, but of somewhat lower importance than in the past:

    Algerian wine is wine made in Algeria. While not a significant force on the world’s wine market today, Algeria has played an important role in the history of wine. Algeria’s viticultural history dates back to its settlement by the Phoenicians and continued under Algeria’s rule by the Roman empire. Just prior to the Algerian War of Independence, Algerian wine (along with the production of Morocco and Tunisia) accounted for nearly two-thirds of the total international wine trade. With as much land under vine as the countries of Germany and South Africa, Algeria continues to maintain a wine industry with over 70 wineries in operation.
    Grapes and wine

    During the peak of Algerian wine production, the main grapes of the region was Carignan, Cinsaut and Alicante Bouschet. Despite not having Pinot noir or otherwise resembling Burgundian wine, blends of these grapes were often labeled as burgundy. In recent times, Clairette blanche and Ugni blanc have become the dominant grape varieties with some smaller plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Mouvedre and Syrah. Algerian wines are characterized by their overripe fruit, high alcohol and low acidity. The grapes often go through a short fermentation process and are bottled after little to no oak aging.

  8. Another Ian says:

    At one stage there was a small winery at Alice Springs. Its product was described as rated by the raffle prize system:-

    First prize 1 bottle; Second prize 2 bottles; third prize 3 bottles

  9. Graeme No.3 says:

    So Chateau Hornsby has disappeared. Made by the local pharmacist. I tried a bottle once and rated it OK but light and never bothered buying another.
    “Chateau Hornsby may be no more (previously the only winery in the state), but John and Shirley Crayford have filled the void by establishing Red Centre Wines on the Stuart Highway, 180km north of Alice Springs. They have established a small planting of shiraz, ruby cabernet, riesling and chardonnay, but specialise in mango wines . The conventional wines are made for them by Geoff Patritti in McLaren Vale.

  10. E.M.Smith says:

    @Graeme No.3:

    Maybe, since I have a Mr. Beer fermenter, I ought to branch out and use it to establish Chateau Smith Winery. I could likely bottle about 10 bottles / run and get about 20 runs a year done. Call it 200 bottles. There might even be one or two left over after the QA testing! ;-)

    There’s lots of vineyards around here that sell grapes to small vintners. Some brands of wine have no vines of their own. Others just rent a field. If you are willing to do hand bottling and labeling, then to become a wine maker just takes a vat to crush in, some way to separate juice from {stems, skins, seeds, etc.} think giant colander, and a fermentation tank. You can get those in all sorts of sizes, even down in the 100 gallon class and smaller. One could become a micro-vintner in a spare bedroom or garage without much trouble.

    For aging on oak, one can just use charred oak chips in a stainless steel tank. While “pony keg” oak kegs might be used, the hassle and expense would be an issue.

    It’s making a wine that will stand out against some incredible competition and then marketing it that’s the real problem.

    OTOH, having a micro-winery would be a fun way to advertise and get notoriety…

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