Beast of Brda — Kabaj is Wine & Spirits Top 100 Wineries 2016

Jean-Michel Morel
Kabaj’s Jean-Michel Morel

For the third year in a row, Kabaj has been chosen as one of the Wine & Spirits Top 100 Wineries for 2016. While the trade and consumer aspects of the event are of course vital, one of the best things about the Top 100 is simply getting producers from all over the world under one roof to taste each others wines. And year after year, this has come to reinforce how unique the Kabaj wines are and how they compliment the wider world of wine.

At the same time, the Kabaj wines are often pigeonholed as simply orange, skin contact, macerated, and or amber rather than simply grape and place. A technique over terroir argument to some. While it’s technically true in that Jean-Michel embraces skin contact, oxygen, and patience rather than a fresh, temperature controlled reductive style, we could also just call his wines “wines” without further labeling. These are the traditional grapes, farmed well, handled clean and simple in the cellar, and barreled down and topped up until incredibly stable and delicious. As such, there are immense distinctions between vintages, vivid grape typicity, and the wines are alive and evolving. To be clear, there are plenty of wines that take skin contact too far and lose themselves, but the same can be said of oak, Brettanomyces, reduction, botrytis, oxidation, residual sugar, and basically anything that can throw a wine out of balance.

After pouring the past three vintages of Kabaj to the trade and at consumer events alike, whenever the skin contact/orange bit goes unsaid, the vast majority simply enjoy the wines. Many of course recognize that Kabaj’s salmon hued Sivi Pinot (Pinot Grigio) isn’t what they normally see and might remark at how golden the Rebula (Ribolla Gialla) is, but nobody asks how long the Merlot was on the skins.

The newly arrived 2013 whites are emblematic of this claim and I hope you’ll get a chance to taste them.