Maybe most impressive is that many of the Kabaj wines reviewed by Wine & Spirits are white grapes fermented with the skins, a technique usually used for red wines. Call them orange, amber, macerated or skin contact whites, this ancient wine style is largely misunderstood and does not typically garner significant professional praise, especially with such consistency. The reason is simple: Kabaj does not make “an” orange wine. Besides a small amount of red, he makes only orange wine. Even in the wine region of Brda in western Slovenia where the technique has historic precedence, few producers have so much experience.
As with red grapes, a poorly managed maceration of white grapes can erase all notion of variety and origin. Done correctly though, the technique can coax out and intensify subtle grape varieties and result in wines with aromatic expression and dimension that their un-macerated parallels lack. At Kabaj, 30 days maceration make Rebula more Rebula. Rather than the pale neutral wine all too common of Rebula (called Ribolla Gialla across the border in Friuli), the maceration softens the thick skin of the grape yielding a brilliant golden wine, a perfume and intricately tannic structure that recalls fine black tea.
The 2013 vintage was recently scored 93 points by Wine & Spirits Magazine:
Jean-Michel Morel keeps his ribolla on the skins for 30 days, resulting in a dense and textured white, the flavors of juicy pineapple and tangerine streaming around and through the tannins. Scents of dried flowers and saffron add delicacy, while notes of chai tea, anise and truffle add savor and spice. The tannins give the wine a tensile character that suggests it will deliver even more with time in the cellar.
We invite you to taste the 2013 Rebula as well as the excellent 2013 release of Kabaj wines. You can order them here.