Here is a really lovely orange wine, and it’s not produced in one of the countries that we would call “classic”. But not far away either, because both sides of the Italian-Slovenian border share many winemaking principles, such as the “classic” ones of organic cultivation, prolonged skin contact for white wines, and maturing in clay vessels.
This wine has been a favourite for several years, and when I met Vasja Čotar at RAWfair a couple of years ago I took the opportunity to taste through most of the range, wines made from vitovska, friulano, teran, and some merlot, cabernet and such – and a very interesting passito from refosco too. The Čotar family has been in the forefront of organic winemaking in Slovenia since they started in 1974, in the small town of Gorjansko in the hills of the Karst region, close to the border against Friuli. All of them express the limestone ground with its red, iron-rich topsoil, where the cool winds from the coast some 5 kilometers away have a temperating effect on the climate. There are also quite harsh winter winds struggling to have an impact on the wines.
Vasja Čotar at RAWfair, London
The 2006 from malvasija istriana underwent an 8 days fermentation with skins in open vats, matured in big wooden vessels (2000 liters). Needless to say, no added yeast, enzyme, sulphites…
The whites bear Vasja’s fingerprints
Malvazija 2006 (Čotar)
Deep yellow, towards orange. Aroma of mature apple, citrus, dried apricots, and a hint of sweet spices. Full on the palate, grapey and quite smooth, but with a touch of tannin, and with a saline farewell.