Producer: Near the village of Dobrovo, Slovenia, just across the border from the famous Italian wine-region Collio, where white wines have long had a history of varying amounts of skin-contact, you can find the winery known as “Kabaj,” where Jean-Michel Morel and his wife Katja Kabaj make a wide range of amber wines, a deep anfora, and a few reds. This winemaking region in Slovenia is known as “Goriška Brda” and it actually covers more acreage than its Italian neighbor Collio though they share nearly identical climates: Adriatic influence mixes with Mediterranean wind patterns and a slight mountainous weather system due to the proximity of the Julian alps. If you didn’t catch on from that: this place is ridiculously beautiful! The soils here are largely marl, limestone and sandstone. Jean-Michel and Katja work about 15 hectares of vines planted to grapes like Pinot Gris (Sivi Pinot), Rebula, Ravan, Sauvignon, Pinot Blanc (Beli Pinot), Malvazija, Chardonnay, and Merlot. All the whites undergo varying degrees of maceration with the minimum duration being two days followed by an élevage of at least two years in oak. These are fascinatingly crafted wines with that sweetspot where real elegance and complexity meets freshness and lift – complex, properly orange wines not weighed down by their extraction.
Vinification: 100% Pinot Blanc. Grapes are hand-harvested and macerated with the skins for a couple of weeks. Fermentation takes place using wild yeasts. Unfined, unfiltered, no SO2.
Tasting: Light and pale in the glass (despite the two weeks of skin contact!), this is a fresh, herbaceous orange wine to drink on its own or serve with food. The texture is medium-bodied and waxy, the nose is citrusy and invigorating, the palate is fresh with peaches, apricot and lemony acidity, and it finishes with a hit of umami. Delightful.