The time has come to share with you my impressions from a visit to Vesna and Aleš Kristančič. I purposely delayed for a week or two, for the feelings to settle, because if you write an article right after visiting Movia, it’s easy to fall into an euphoria trap so there’s a danger of being told the man paid you to write such lines, which I wanted to avoid for two reasons; it’s not my style and Aleš doesn’t deserve it – he’s too much of a winemaker to even think that. So time has come for this article so let’s get started.
My friends Sanja and Tomislav Stručić expressed their desire to visit the Movia winery about a year ago and it took us a while to coordinate dates and availability and agree on a date. The four of us set off, as this trip couldn’t be done without Silvija. The three of them were going to Movia for the first time, so the excitement was strong, but expected – after all, Movia isn’t just any winery.
Vesna and Aleš greeted us with lunch and what’s more important, a kiss and a large, honest smile. This simplicity – the virtue of great people. No affectation or grandiose statements; their grandeur is known and they are aware of it, but they don’t dish it out constantly. Browsing through photos on the famous table, standing at the exit towards the terrace, you come across a few showing Vesna and Aleš with certain “crowned heads” and in conversation you realize that between yourself and those “crowned heads” there isn’t a big difference in how we perceive Vesna and Aleš.
Aleš himself speaks fervently of world capitals and his presentations there the same way he speaks to Tomislav Stručić about Ludbreg and his vineyards, something you cannot fake but carry within you.
You probably know plenty of the wines from Movia cellars, so I won’t delve into them. It’s general knowledge they deal with biodynamical cultivation and wine philosophy. Wine is kept and fed with its own residue, which is the basic concept of this wine discipline that many still dispute, but once you try 15-year old and older wines and feel the freshness and playfulness of it, you cannot be indifferent. My friend Stručić tasted the residue, spun them in his mouth, munched on them, spoke to Aleš, hopefully learning something. He met a different wine world up close, since Aleš’s world is something quite different, a completely different perception of wine and here, you either give in or go in another direction, since
Aleš’s philosophy cannot be done halfway. But, why is it so and why does Aleš belong with the best winemakers in the world?
Firstly, he is the 8th generation of a family of winemakers that lives off wine and for wine; for him this wine philosophy is in his genes, stronger than him. When you observe his hands, it’s apparent he lives off the land. Aleš likes to say about himself: “I am a serf, I live off the land.” People who drink his world-renown wines picture him in Paris, Dubai, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and all over, but few people have the fortune, such as me, to see him in the vineyard and feel his passion for land and vine. It’s only here you can meet the real Aleš, in fact only here can you begin to understand him, as you can see him in a different light. So you and your perception of Aleš changes, but he is actually the same and that’s the real force behind Aleš Kristančič and Movia.
The second major factor is, Aleš is a master of balance. Every action has a reaction. As all in life – if you received something from the land, then you must give something back and not poison it for short term benefit. With wines it’s all about a balance between sun and rain, alcohol and acid, barrels and air, years of aging and love. Such is life, balancing between the big world and your family that is your world, a balance between dreams and reality and of course, balancing a marriage between a woman and man. Balance is the basis of everything.
The latter, the balance between Vesna and him is, I believe, the well from which Aleš draws his strength. Vesna and him are the perfect yin and yang.
One small digression… Vesna and Aleš began their love story in 1992. The same year began the love story of my great love, my Višnja and me. There’s something in that “vintage” and I believe their 1992 Grey Pinot proves it. And after 24 years, you can still feel the chemistry between them. That’s strength. I feel that Aleš displays in his wines, somehow, a part of Vesna, her strength, grandeur, her love, but also pouring a lot of his own love into the wines. Wine is his medium where he intertwines their love and it can be felt – which is why those wines are still alive after 24 years; they may be different, but they’re also strong and full of life.
Aleš is quick, energetic, what I like to say – 100 kilos of pure energy. He’s also a showman, playing several instruments, singing, showing off – just look what he’s done with the opening of his sparkling, which is a fantastic wine, but I believe many have heard of it due to the way he opens it in water. Such an opening is always a show that attracts attention and Aleš balances perfectly between a showman and winemaker. But, going back to him and Vesna – he is energetic, impulsive and easily veers off course, like a wonderful river that drags you along, but Vesna is his bank, both left and right and without banks there are no mighty rivers.
I’m aware that some won’t understand what I’m writing about and I’m truly sorry, as it means they have never met their true love, their river or their bank. It means they don’t live life to the fullest, don’t do a job they love and real happiness and real life are passing them by. And yes, this is an article about wine, as Aleš, Vesna, their wines and their love are in perfect balance and don’t exist if you omit any piece.
I didn’t mention their two wonderful children, almost in their own, these children are the very essence of their love, but I believe that part of their family needs no lines right now; that time will come. I must mention a young lady, Tanja Saksida. This lady has the role of sommelier in the Movia cellars and she receives the guests, with such perfection, such love, as if presenting her own wines. She is family. It’s been long since I’ve seen someone go about their work with such love, while working for someone else. This is influenced, of course, by the way Vesna and Aleš treat her.
I met her since it happened she hosted a group of Italians the same day we were there. We quickly decided to invite them to our table; they had the fortune to taste wines that are not regularly available for tasting, but the vibe in Movia… A miracle! Very soon we were all singing karaoke – Italians, us, Aleš, Vesna, even Tanja, as if we know each other for a hundred years, just another magical moment in Movia cellars.
I’ve tried to give you a vision of Vesna and Aleš. Don’t know if I succeeded – judge by yourself, but there’s also a detail I want to share with you.
When we published on Facebook a day or two later a photo album, there were surprised comments about how lucky we were to have Aleš spend an entire day with us. No, we weren’t lucky, such was our arrangement, since I consider Aleš and Vesna our friends, and vice versa I believe. In friendship there is a relation and respect, not luck, as I view them as wonderful people, not as wine presenters in London. Small nighttime talks with Aleš, eye to eye, in his Magnum cellar – I wouldn’t trade for anything. What did we talk about? Ha! You will never know. 🙂 To stay friends, we don’t need to see each other every day; we can meet every few years, but we’re friends and for that I’m eternally grateful to Vesna and Aleš.
P.S. We’re soon going back with Višnja so that the four of us can open a 1992 Grey Pinot in peace. It was a year of birth of great wines and great loves. Vesna and Aleš, ciao, kiss and see you!