Visit a Winery: Kabaj in Goriška Brda, Slovenia

The Region The border between Northeast Italy, and Western Slovenia runs from the Alps to the Adriatic Sea, dividing a terroir important to both. Known as ‘Collio’ in Italy, and ‘Brda’ in Slovenia, their shared meaning is ‘hills’. Due to its proximity to both the Alps and the Adriatic sea, Brda enjoys climate conditions most favorable for growing vines as well as cherries, peaches, apricots, pears, apples, figs, plums, and olives. Winters are mild and summers can be hot. Cool northeast winds help remove humidity and mildew in the vineyards. The region is known for white varieties such as Rebula, Sauvignonasse (formerly Tocai Fruilano), Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and Sauvignon Blanc as well as international reds like Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The Winery Winemaker Jean-Michel Morel is originally from France but after meeting his wife Katja Kabaj in a nearby Italian winery, decided to relocate to Slovenia and rebuild the Kabaj family estate. Jean-Michel, a Wine & Spirits Magazine 100 Wineries winner in 2013, makes world-class wines using local varieties and winemaking techniques. His skin-macerated white wines including Rebula (known as ‘the queen of Brda’), Ravan (an old local name for the grape formerly known as Tocai Friullano) and Sivi … Continue reading Visit a Winery: Kabaj in Goriška Brda, Slovenia

Why This Bottle Really? 2010 Kabaj Rebula

It was a nice surprise to find the 2010 Kabaj Rebula reviewed in the current issue of The Art of Eating. The Art of Eating is a quarterly publication that has nothing to do with these glossy food magazines that have more ads than recipes. It is instead all about telling stories that underscore the connection between traditions and the sense of place, stories about artisanal food and drinks and the people that make them. So in some way, this was not so surprising to find the Slovenian winery featured in the magazine. The Kabaj family has been farming vineyards on the terraced hills of Goriška Brda for generations but it is only in 1993 that Katja Kabaj and her French-born husband Jean-Michel Morel released their first vintage. Jean-Michel Morel, a Bordeaux-educated winemaker, proudly combines traditional winemaking—using some ancient techniques he studied in Georgia— with modern facilities built recently on the property. His approach is not to produce a fresh, crisp, fruit-driven international style. Instead, he vinifies his whites with long skin contact during maceration, goes through full malolactic fermentation on the lees, and ages them at least 12 months in large oak barrels. The article was written by Joe … Continue reading Why This Bottle Really? 2010 Kabaj Rebula

Kabaj Tasting at Terroir, NYC

Jean-Michel Morel, proprietor and wine maker at Kabaj. “Taste it with your eyes closed,” says Jean Michel Morel as I swirl his Amfora 2006 in my glass. We are at the Kabaj tasting for trade and press, held Thursday at the restaurant Terroir in Tribeca, NYC. Jean Michel and Kabaj’s sales manager, Tomo Ceh, were there to pour eight wines made in the hills of Goriska Brda hard against Slovenia’s border with Italy. I closed my eyes and tasted the light amber wine in my glass. The aroma was rich, of honey and sweet pollen. The wine was smooth, with ample body and a lactic topnote, like the smell of a great cheese shop, as well as a noticeable oxidation which, with the healthy acidity and slight tannin of the wine, gave its body rigor. Beneath was an elusive floral quality and light smoke. If I hadn’t known this wine was white, with my eyes closed I might have assumed it was a red with a little age on it—and that was Jean Michel’s point. The truth about Amfora. “It’s red wine—only the color is white,” he says. The 2006 is the middle vintage of three white blends he is … Continue reading Kabaj Tasting at Terroir, NYC