Ales Kristančič is the magician behind Slovenia’s iconic winery Movia in Brda. An enigmatic and energetic scion of the family estate bordering Italy’s Collio, Kristančič, is among the few who modernized and catapulted Slovenia’s winemaking to international renown. The Movia estate has existed since 1700 and has been in the hands of the Kristančič family since 1820. From making full-bodied orange wines using Ribolla Gialla to elegant reds from Bordeaux varietals, Movia’s wines like the scion behind it are full of energy, lively and eccentric. In the interview, Ales appeals to people not to treat wine as a simple alcoholic beverage, and shares his philosophy, passion for wine and music.
How many years have you been aged so far?
I know the year 1966 because of our Ribolla, which my dad safely kept. I drank that Ribolla at special opportunities, special birthdays..now I have just a few bottles left. And this wine is a really great old wine.
What led you to wine?
My life. From the very beginning it was obvious that I am with wine. From my first steps, my family, everything we did was always connected with wine. At the beginning this meant a lot of work for a young guy. But I never hated this – even if I was a little bit forced like a young man to work. I started to realize how great this job is. It’s more like a mission. And I was taught in that way. My father was very tough. He was not very interested in what I’m doing at school, he said ‘that is your problem, but I will always care about what you do at home-that is your job for me’. And that had to be without mistakes. I am now the 8th generation, my kids are 9th generation, and this year we are celebrating 200 years of winemaking in this house.
What’s your pet peeves about wine?
Pet Peeves? What are pet peeves haha. Nothing. I was raised believing that wine should be accepted as it is. We should be the ones who change, not wine. All of the people who tried to change wine, they lost it on the way, because instead of creating wine, they created an alcoholic beverage, which wine is not. But If you ask me what I dislike that is connected to wine, then there are a lot of things. The biggest thing is the mistake of treating wine as an alcoholic beverage. I do understand that some wines are the usual alcoholic beverages, and those wines we shouldn’t drink when we drive. But If the wine is real, you can drink it just like priests when they work. Why? Because the real wine has place in your soul. And we make tests with our body. It’s a totally different thing, after a real wine you sing better, you dance better, you are more tolerant- and none of those things are common for a drunk person.
Describe what’s an alcohol-free day like for you?
I don’t know. Because if you think that my wines are alcohol beverages, then I don’t know if I ever had a day without it. Only when I was a child, but I don’t really remember. Maybe sometimes even now I have days when I don’t drink any wine, but that is not important because for me this is not alcohol.
What’s your secret passion?
My secret passion…of course is not a secret secret passion, it’s just a passion. It’s music. I have a small studio. That’s where I go sometimes to first listen to the silence. It’s sound proof, and that is the first step to come inside yourself, to think. And then of course, I play music.
What kind of wines are in your wine fridge?
Always all Movia, and wines which My wife or my kids, or I want to try. If you’re a wine producer what is very important is that you are primarily a wine lover, a wine freak that you enjoy wine. It means that you have to drink wine also without thinking. So drinking, and talking, without always talking about wine.
What’s the weirdest wine you’ve tasted so far that you actually liked?
I think that if it’s weird because it’s bad, then it’s bad and I don’t like it…but if I like it, then it’s special. And I only like it if it’s special, it has to be something new. I need a new taste. It’s very interesting that in the same wine region you try one new wine, for the first time, when for example the new generation winemaker starts, and you say WOW, it’s incredible, it surprises you. Maybe the biggest surprise was Malvasia made by my son Lan. From the beginning he wanted to make it different, and I was really convincing myself to let him try, experiment, that is what he needs. I was a bit skeptical at first, but it ended being great.
If you can recommend one wine to any leader in the world, who would it be and what would you recommend?
Nikola Tesla (a Serbian-American engineer and scientist), if he was still alive. I would love to pour him a glass, and I believe he would really understand my work. Of course, I could recommend him a lot of other wines, but from my wines… I think Veliko Belo.
If you can drink any wine in the world, which wine would you like to have?
Pinot Noir from Romanée-Conti, any vintage.
If you are a wine, how would you imagine your tasting note would be like?
Ales: Strange, difficult to understand, doing things which he likes, naïve but not naïve-just a believer.
Ela, Ales’ daughter (adding to his answer): Lively, fun, unpredictable, and unique.
What makes you happy?
Many things, but maybe the most important ones are my wife, my kids, my mom, family, my team,… my wines, .. and that I’m not that old yet and my kids are already in my team. That sometimes is not the easiest, but It’s very beautiful.
If you can only drink one wine for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I would like to drink a wine which my wife likes, and that means that I will not enjoy alone.