The wines of Marjan Simčič

Impressive wines from Goriška Brda, on the Italy/Slovenia border

Ceglo 3b, 5212 Dobrovo, Slovenia
Tel: +386 (0)5 395 92 00

Marjan Simčič 

Marjan Simčič is a winegrower in the Goriška Brda wine region in Slovenia. The vineyards straddle the Slovenian/Italian border, with half of them on each side. The cellar is 200 metres from the border in the village of Ceglo.

It’s a family estate that has been growing wine grapes for five generations, and Marjan’s father, who is now 82, is still actively involved. Marjan has been involved for the last 22 years, after he studied for a year in Burgundy and a year in Bordeaux. He’s changed things a bit, but claims ‘I’m very respectful of the traditional vinification. I do old style vinification like my father,’ he says.

Maceration of the whites is around 4–6 days, although for some varieties it is a bit less. The orange wines that are now popular with Slovenian growers, made by extended maceration of white grapes, are a new development, and not part of the tradition.   

The terrain here consists of lots of small hills, with many different microterroirs. ‘This is why Brda can do so many different varieties,’ says Marjan. ‘We choose the right terroir for the right variety.’ There are 2000 hectares of vines in the region, with many small producers. Simčič have 18 hectares of vines.

During the communist era, when this was part of Yugoslavia, everything had to be exported through the cooperatives. But Tito’s regime was more liberal than most communist countries, and the border wasn’t sealed. The growers could do trade with their neighbours over in Italy, and were able to work vineyards that straddled the border, like Simčič’s.   

These wines are imported into the UK by Bancroft Wines, and RRPs are given in brackets.


Marjan Simčič Pinot Grigio 2010 Goriška Brda, Slovenia
Nicely aromatic, rich and grapey. Full flavoured with some hints of spice and minerals. Broad, smooth texture. Pure with nice weight and a touch of structure. 90/100 (Ł13.75) 

Marjan Simčič Sauvignonasse 2008 Goriška Brda, Slovenia
This is the name that’s now used for Tokai Friuliano since the 2005 decision to disallow the use of Tokaji for wines that don’t come from the Hungarian region. It has a reductive mineral nose with complex nutty notes. The palate is complex, fresh and fruity with melon and herb notes. Textured. Real interest here. 92/100 (Ł14.40)

Marjan Simčič Sauvignon Reserve 2009 Goriška Brda, Slovenia
Complex, broad herby nose is fruity and fresh with bold, full texture on the palate. Bright, pure and open with a hint of melon. A rich Sauvignon. 92/100 (Ł20.95)

Marjan Simčič Opoka Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Goriška Brda, Slovenia
This is from a special terroir: opoka is the name for marl, the soil from which these wines are made. Brooding complex nose showing mineral, grapes and herbs. Broad, nutty palate is textured and shows pure fruit with herb and mineral overtones. Fine, expressive and fresh. 94/100 (Ł38.50)

Marjan Simčič Chardonnay Reserve 2007 Goriška Brda, Slovenia
Mineral, herb, spice nose. Superbly complex with herbs, pear, citrus and mineral notes. The palate is broad with freshness and a savoury character of flinty mineral notes. Real interest. 93/100 (Ł21)

Marjan Simčič Opoka Chardonnay 2009 Goriška Brda, Slovenia
Taut, spicy, mineral nose leads to a dense palate with citrus fruit, some herbs, melon and pear. Subtle toasty notes. Rounded, harmonious, smooth and quite serious. 94/100 (Ł38.50)

Marjan Simčič Opoka Ribolla 2007 Goriška Brda, Slovenia
Nutty oxidative nose. Palate is dense and almost structured with nutty, herby notes. Mineral, spicy and grippy with pear and apple. Lots of personality. 93/100 (Ł38.50)

Marjan Simčič Pinot Noir 2009 Goriška Brda, Slovenia
Palish colour. Lovely supple, elegant sweet cherry fruit nose with a sappy edge. Super-elegant silky texture on the palate with sweet cherry fruit and some spicy overtones. Quite profound. 94/100 (Ł26.95)

Marjan Simčič Opoka Merlot 2006 Goriška Brda, Slovenia
A stylish, elegant expression of Merlot with spicy, earthy undertones to the fresh berry fruits, developing some savoury, spicy notes and mineral elements. Sophisticated. 92/100 (Ł49.95)

Marjan Simčič Leonardo 2005 Goriška Brda, Slovenia
A sweet wine made from Ribolla grapes left on the vine until Autumn, and then dried in crates until April. They used to dry straw in these rooms, which are out of the sunlight but very dry. Gold/bronze in colour. Sweet, intense, viscous and complex with notes of apricot, honey, caramel and peach, as well as some spiciness. Lively and powerful with incredible complexity. Some orange peel and tangerine notes, too. 96/100 (Ł33.55 per 37.5 cl)

Wines tasted June 2012 

Older notes, from a tasting in 01/07

Simčič Pinot Grigio 2005 Goriška Brda, Slovenia 
Quite a full yellow colour. Honeyed, herb-tinged nose with some freshness. The palate is zippy with a herbal twang to it. Nice full, fresh stuff that’s very food friendly, and has a sweet, honeyed edge. 88/100 (Ł9.95)

Simčič Sauvignon Reserve 2004Goriška Brda, Slovenia  
It's Sauvignon, but not as you know it. The grapes are harvested relatively late and then, rather than press the juice off straight away or after just a short skin contact, as is normal for whites, the skins are given an extended maceration of about a week. This results in a deep coloured wine with some of the characteristics of a red wine: a bit of tannin and bold, herb-tinged flavours. There's sweet, grapey, melony fruit here, together with a bit of grassy herbal character. It's distinctive, warm and intense. I wouldn't say it's profound - after all, this is Sauvignon, and it lacks true complexity or minerality. Also, I could understand some people writing this off as clumsy. But I like it because it is interesting and it makes me think about what I'm tasting. 91/100 (Ł15.50)

Simčič Chardonnay Réserve 2003 Goriška Brda, Slovenia
3133 bottles produced in March 2006; this spends 7–8 days in contact with the skins. A deep yellow/gold colour it has a really interesting nose. It’s quite tight with some herbal fruit married with bakery smells and vanilla oak, but there’s also a savoury, slightly oily complexity here. The palate is dense, a little tannic even, with a heavy toasty oak imprint and sweet, bready, herby fruit. It’s a full-on Chardonnay of great intensity and concentration – no doubt a bit too full on for some. I like it, though. Very good/excellent 90/100 (Ł15.50)

Simčič Teodor White Réserve 2003 Goriška Brda , Slovenia 
A blend of Ribolla (60%), Tocai Friulano (20%) and Pinot Grigio (20%); 6130 bottles made. A deep yellow colour, this has a striking nose that is complex and unusual, with some herbiness, fat melony fruit, a bit of spice and some nutty toasty depth. The palate is bold and intense, with a bit of evolution, some oxidative notes and complex, herby, spicy fruit. A distinctive wine in a slightly old-fashioned mode. 90/100 (Ł15.50)

Wines tasted as indicated  
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