I’m wondering around a small winery in Marche’s Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi region. Frank Zappa pours me barrel samples of bright orange juice. Any minute now, I expect him to strap on his guitar for a blistering avant-rock solo. Then I pinch myself.
OK, I’m actually at La Distesa, and this is Corrado Dottori, who makes the wonderful “Nur”, a skin fermented white blend.
Damijan Podversic’s decision in 1999 to reject his conventional winemaking education, in favour of a more “back to the roots” style, did not sit well with his dad who denied him usage of the family’s ancestral cellar. Since then he’s developed an impressive and tradition style of skin macerated white wines, following in the footsteps of Josko Gravner.
“It’s oxidised” – how many times have I heard this statement, when talking about orange wines? Even amongst wine professionals, the misconception often prevails. Most of us are very visual creatures – confronted with what we’re told is ostensibly a white wine, and a darker russet brown, golden yellow or downright orange colour, it can be hard to shake off the thought that the wine is in less than prime condition.
Every week, I select an orange wine (a white wine made with extended skin contact) that grabbed my attention. View the whole series here. You have to love a winemaker who recognises when refreshment comes first. I won’t ever forget a 2013 visit to Uros Klabjan‘s small estate in west Slovenia. For mid-May, the weather […]
Sandi Skerk must have one of the most idyllically sited vineyards in Friuli, if not the world. Grassed terraces curve gently around the contours of the Carso hills, and lead your eye out towards the Adriatic coast. I’m profoundly happy to be standing by his albarello-pruned Vitovska vines, almost four years to the day after a previous eye-opening visit in 2011. Sandi is of course the same as ever – gentle, rather shy, yet somehow dogmatic and politely forceful when he needs to be.
Last week’s wine was definitely an edge case, with only two days of maceration, yet utterly inhabiting the “orange wine” end of the flavour spectrum. Burja is another. Primož Lavrenčič’s 7.4 hectares are situated in the stunning Vipava valley, about 40 km east of the Italian border.
Some varieties take to skin maceration like a duck to water. Malvasia Istriana is one of those, and there are a handful of producers in Croatia’s “Northern Tuscany” who are exploiting this quite delightfully -Giorgio Clai, Kabola and Benvenuti are the ones I’ve discovered so far.
Branko Čotar has a very straightforward answer for me when I ask when he started using extended skin macerations for his white wines: “I’ve macerated my wines for 40 years – it’s the tradition here (in the Slovenian Kras region)”.
This wine is one of relatively few standard bearers for the extended skin contact revival that’s not from Collio or Slovenian Brda. La Stoppa are based in Emilia Romagna, home to a rich, meaty cuisine and of course Lambrusco. Elena Pantaleoni makes this blend of Malvasia di Candia Aromatic, Ortugo and Trebbiano in honour of the estate’s founder Giancarlo Ageno.
Decanter magazine’s September 2014 issue features my regional profile of Istria, arguably Croatia’s finest wine region – an area deserving a lot more attention than it currently gets. The wines and producers recommended in that article were necessarily constrained by what was available on the UK retail market at the time of writing. Here’s a more […]