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Slovenian wines to watch

The Times panel held a blind tasting of wines from two of Slovenia's wine regions: Primorska (near Friuli, Italy) and Podravje (which borders Austria's Steiermark region). The white wines -- most colored a distinctive bright yellow -- included six different varietals and a few blends. Winemaker influence trumped the expected varietal characteristics in these surprising wines. The reds were a Pinot Noir, a Refosk (Refosco) and an unusual blend. Because they were so varied, we did not rate them but listed our five favorite whites and two favorite reds first. Most are priced from $16 to $26 per bottle; one is $50. Joining me were Food columnist Russ Parsons, restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila and assistant Food editor Betty Hallock.

White wines

2005 Movia Sauvignon Blanc. From Brda in the Primorska region, a food-friendly wine scented with fresh guava and eucalyptus; bracing acidity carries it through a lingering finish of tart oranges. At Wine Exchange in Orange (714) 974-1454, www.winex.com, $20.

2005 Guerila Pinela. From the Vipava district in Primorska, a delicate honey-toned wine with stony Chablis-like minerality. At Liquid Wine & Spirits in Chatsworth, (818) 709-5019, www.liquidpartyworks.com, $17.

2004 Batic Pinot Gris Reserve. A weird and wonderful wine from Vipava, with delicate aromas of sesame seeds, herbs and wildflowers. It has good acidity and a lingering fresh apple finish. At Liquid Wine & Spirits, $22.

2005 Movia Ribolla Gialla. Scented with pineapple and melon, it has a tropical fruit follow-through and a fresh rosemary accent. Bright acids and clean minerality. At K&L Wine Merchants in Hollywood, (323) 464-9463, www.klwines.com, $25.

2005 Kogl Solo Chardonnay. From the Podravje region, a heady wine with tropical fruit aromas and in-your-face fresh pineapple and apple flavors. At Silver Lake Wine in Los Angeles, (323) 662-9024, www.silverlakewine.com, $16.

2004 Simcic Sauvignon Blanc Reserve. From Brda, lemon-honey aromas and tastes of apples sprinkled with lemon juice in a velvety wine with a lingering finish. At Silver Lake Wine; and at Wine House in West Los Angeles, (310) 479-3731, www.wineaccess.com, $30.

2004 Santomas Malvasia. From the Koper district in Primorska, a richly aromatic wine with a round mouth feel, zippy fresh pineapple and other tropical fruit flavors. At Silver Lake Wine, $16.

2003 Kogl Magna Dominica Albus. A blend of equal parts Auxerrois, Riesling and Yellow Muskat, this wine has inviting peach aromas and a taste of honey. At Liquid Wine & Spirits, $17.

Red wines

2001 Santomas "Big Red Reserve" Refosk (Refosco). With tantalizing aromas of white pepper and new leather, this astringent wine has pronounced acidity, firm tannins and flavors of bell pepper and herbs. At Silver Lake Wines, $31.

2000 Movia Veliko Rosso. A blend of Merlot, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a rustic wine with smoked meat and tobacco aromas and light acidity. Available from Domaine Select Wine Estates, (212) 279-0799, www.domaineselect.com, $50.

2004 Simcic Pinot Noir Reserve. A tart wine with cedar aromas and sour cherry flavors. At Wine House. About $32.

-- Corie Brown

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