The fact that Michael and Maria Gross work in the steep terraces of Haloze (on the Slovenian border to Croatia) wasn’t exactly love at first site. It was in fact Michael’s father, Alois Gross, legendary winemaker from South Styria, that was looking for a retreat for his retirement and stumbled across this quaint but picturesque corner of Slovenia.
Haloze, the more precise name of the region isn’t exactly the first place Slovenians think about when talking about high quality parcels. Vineyards in the northern part of Stajerska (the Slovenian part of Styria) and the region of Brda and Karst towards Italy, have long been considered more fashionable. The Haloze region, with its diversity of varieties such as Welschriesling, Furmint and Sauvignon, was long overlooked due to its history of large cooperative winemaking. Nevertheless, Michael and Maria believed in the potential of these truly unique parcels, and decided to dedicate all of their energy here from the late 2000s.
From 2014 they introduced organic viticulture to the vineyards, and since then have put a big emphasis on mostly old-vines of Furmint, as well as some extraordinary plots of Sauvignon and Traminer. Since the start, they credit Michael Wenzel as a key mentor for working Furmint organically, and share a great friendship and admiration with Michael to this day. The soils are almost identical to the Austrian parts of Styria, consisting mainly of the omni present Opok (compressed clay and limestone) soils.
In the cellar they use large Austrian foudres between 900-2800L in size with the occasional 500-600L barrel when needed. After natural fermentation the wines spend at least a full year in the cellar giving them plenty of time on the full lees before bottling. More and more they are also bottling directly from barrel, making sure there is even less intervention from grape to bottle. Like with many of the wines of Styria the wines from Michael and Maria possess a distinct ‘Styrian reduction’ reminiscent of the great saline white wines of the Alps. We said it before, and we will say it again, paired with the impeccable acidity profile of Furmint, this needs to be on the bucket list of every Chenin or Chablis aficionado.