As you’re are no doubt aware by now, we like to think of ourselves as champions of the quirky and, from time to time, adversaries towards more traditional wine commentary.

And as we all know, nothing incites a raging debate of this nature, quite like natural wine.

At Wine Rascals HQ, we’ve always shouted our support for the speckly stuff loud and proud. You may have read recently that we were the first merchants to bring natural wine to the Alexander Wines cellars of Scotland.

Despite this, you may have noticed only a select few natural wine makers in our brochure. Well, just because we’re open minded, doesn’t mean we aren’t selective. We dream of a world in which natural wine is offered on every menu across the country, and the only way that’s gonna happen is by promoting only the very best stuff.

So, to that note, we are now very happy to introduce the third natural winemaker in our portfolio, and the first from Slovenia.

Among lakes and sandy soils left behind by prehistoric seas sits the century-and-a-half old wine cellar restored by Matija Žerjav, AKA Matic. Having generations of winemaking knowledge passed down to him, Matic decided to delve deeper, into the more challenging yet more rewarding world of natural wine. During his process, every step is taken to ensure that the wines are made purely and sustainably, with wild yeast fermentation, minimal sulphite usage and the age-old usage of Amphorae in their winemaking. Although organic methods are fully applied, they have yet to receive their certification.

We got the chance to ask Matic a few questions about his process, which you can read below.

Hi Matic,

You sound as though you have quite a unique terroir in Štajerska. What, for you, is the most important distinction?

The determining factor is the contrast between warm days and cool nights. The steep hillsides too – the winemaking area in Štajerska is located in the so-called ‘Mountain Wine Zone‘, which of course can get cold.

So we’ve heard. How do you get through the harsh Slovenian winters?

Harsh winter is good for the vines as it disinfects the soil. But we keep our wines in an old cellar from 1852, completely underground, so we have constant temperature throughout the year from 10c to 12c.

Out in the vines, what are some of the wildlife that you come up against, and how do you deal with them?

For Eupoecilia ambiguella and Lobesia botrana [Vine moths] we use traps as they are more nature-

friendly. Many vine growers spray with insecticides as it is less work and less cost. However, we actually get some financial support from the EU in return for not doing so.

In one vineyard we had problems with Capreolus capreolus [Deer]. There, we used hail nets to protect the grapes.

What, for you, are the most important principles of natural winemaking?

It is the same way as my grandfather would make the wine. My philosophy is that every wine that I make, I can drink too without any fear of a headache or anything else.

Why I do natural? Because I want my children to play in vineyards and maybe one day do the same job as me.

Browse Matic’s wines in our brochure now, and give us a shout if you’d like to know more.