Wine and gastronomy tour highlights amber and natural winemakers of Slovenia and Italy

Orange/natural wine expert Simon J Woolf and author of Amber Revolution, is partnering with Savor The Experience Tours to offer a tour of the amber and natural winemakers of Slovenia and Italy. Simon and the Savor The Experience team will take you first to the hilly vineyards of the cross-border wine appellation called Collio in Italy and Brda in Slovenia (Italian and Slovenian words for ‘hill’), visiting small artisan wineries and learning about the region’s traditional orange and natural winemaking. In addition to Brda and Collio, the tour takes you to Slovenia’s lush Vipava Valley, the stoney Karst region, and ends with a day trip to Croatia’s Istrian peninsula. Besides meeting with the winemakers and tasting their production, you’ll be able to experience the delicious local cuisine and artisanal products such as olive oil, prosciutto, vinegar, cheese and truffle. This 7 day wine and gastronomy tour starts November 8 2018 and ends November 15 2018, and all guests who sign up will receive a signed copy of Simon’s first edition book Amber Revolution.

#WineWednesday Spotlight #114: Kabaj Rebula

The Kabaj Rebula “is not the kind you get when cross the Florida-Georgia border; the kind you buy for your Aunt Millie who puts it away in a cabinet never to be looked at again.” For writer Patrick Ogle over at Surprising Wines, this orange wine is for adventurous palates. Giving white wines extended skin contact is something you see more of these days. It is a tough wine. It gives you the bird the whole time you are drinking it. Out of the bottle Rebula is tight even on the nose. It has an almost candied citrus peel nose with a bit of honey, but a honey with flowery characteristics (orange blossom). It smells like it is going to be sweet but instead it is harsh, woody, tannic (on a level you might associate with big red wines). You may get some citrus, or citrus skin, here but most fruit is buried initially. Patrick Ogle recommends opening the wine several hours in advance: When this wine calms down, when the tannins and woodiness retreat, you find that citrus and stone fruit blossoms. This starts several hours after opening (3 or more) but accelerates after 24 hours. It is still … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #114: Kabaj Rebula

#WineWednesday Spotlight #111: Kabaj Merlot

This month, the Kabaj Merlot 2012 is Wine & Spirits Magazine‘s critic’s pick: Jean-Michel Morel’s 2012 merlot is rich with ripe plum and black cherry flavors, but the wine never feels fat or jammy, thanks to the meaty tannins and savory notes of fresh-turned earth and roasted mushrooms. A distinct note of iodine lends a sanguine savor and enhances the wine’s Old World character. The 2012 vintage is not available yet in the US. In the meantime, try the 2011. It’s a complex wine, more savory than fruity, very well balanced, and ready to drink now.

New Kabaj vintage reviewed in Wine and Spirits Magazine

Wine and Spirits Magazine has great reviews of the latest vintage of Kabaj in its October issue. These wines will be coming to the US shortly. In the meantime, low quantities of the 2013 vintage—also very well rated by the magazine—are still available (93 Points for both the 2013 Rebula and the 2013 Sivi Pinot!).

Mon Chérry…

Forced French puns aside, in the 11th hour brainstorming that usually precedes a newsletter to the trade, it occurred to me — cherries! Marasca cherries, which grow up and down the Dalmatian coast (including Slovenia and Southern Hungary) became famous all over Europe once distilled into Maraschino. Most of this production eventually moved to Italy after the destruction of WWII, but famous producers like Luxardo (1821) were all founded in Croatia. Cherry festivals can also be found all over Croatia and neighboring Slovenia. Whether you’re in Istria/Slovene Istria (Piquentum, Coronica, Santomas), Goriška Brda (Kabaj), the Kras (Štoka), Dolenjska (Martinčič) or Štajerska (Črnko), cherries abound. Sour, bitter and sweet, they also play a role in the cuisine as fresh soups, desserts, added to stews, jams, syrups, etc… Granted, I know I’m not breaking new ground by attaching cherry flavors to wine. It’s less about the wines tasting like cherries (although some really do), but a similar balance between bitter, sweet and sour. Whether it’s skin contact Ravan (Friulano), Rebula (Ribolla Gialla) and Sivi Pinot (Pinot Grigio), salty barrel aged Malvasia Istriana, bloody Teran, sweet and sour Cviček, bright and aromatic white field blends, or tart Refošk, there’s a kinship at play. … Continue reading Mon Chérry…

#WineWednesday Spotlight #81: Kabaj Merlot

Merlot has a long tradition in Goriška Brda, a appellation located at the foot of the Julian Alps on the Italian-Slovenian border. While Brda is best known for its white wines, the Merlot grape likes the well-drained sunny hills of the region and a climate that combines Mediterranean and Alpine influences. French-born Jean-Michel Morel, having worked in Bordeaux and the South of France, knows well how to work with Bordeaux varieties. His Merlot, sourced from vines grown on steep vineyards and averaging 40 years of age, fermented with native yeast and aged 2 years in barrique, is refined and elegant. It’s also age-worthy. The 2011 vintage is still full of youth and needs some time to open up. It’s a complex wine, more savory than fruity, rich and well balanced, with mineral notes on the finish. The other night, the dinner was over but the wine was still developing in glass and becoming more and more delicious so we almost finished the bottle while watching TV. Try it yourself! You can find it here.

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

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

#WineWednesday Spotlight #56: Kabaj Rebula

For the third time, Kabaj is one of the Wine & Spirits Top 100 Wineries for 2016 , an honor the winery also received in 2015 and 2013. 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 … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #56: Kabaj Rebula

Orange Wine Is a Summer Day-Drinking Revelation

When was the last time you heard someone shout “rosé all day?” Was it Fourth of July weekend at a friend’s BBQ, or maybe out on the patio at Everson Royce? America has undoubtedly hit peak rosé, but there is another beverage that falls between white and red on the color spectrum: orange wine. LA Weekly wine writer Erin Mosbaugh recently attended the Republic of Georgia Wine Seminar at République LA in Los Angeles. One of the highlights of the seminar was Wine Guru Lou Amdur‘s presentation on orange wines. Curious about this unique winemaking style traditionally found in Georgia, Slovenia and Italy, she asked République’s beverage director Taylor Parsons about his favorite orange wines. One of them was Kabaj Rebula 2012 from Slovenia: Jean-Michel Morel is one of the great practitioners of skin maceration, partially because of the time he spent learning the technique in the Shavnabada Monastery in Georgia. His Rebula is the best entry into his outstanding range of wines. Thirty days on the skins adds a wonderful textural complexity as well as spicy, woodsy flavors, and the wonderful natural acidity of the grape keeps everything fresh and balanced. Another favorite was Gotsa Family Wines Mtsvane 2013 … Continue reading Orange Wine Is a Summer Day-Drinking Revelation

Why Slovenia Has Become One of Europe’s Best Food Destinations

Alex Halberstadt takes a bells and whistles culinary tour of Slovenia for Travel + Leisure. Starting with Kabaj Rebula and a bowl of Katja’s Jota. Read the whole article here. Morel poured us his Rebula, an orange-hued white that smelled, improbably, of roses and tea. He ages the wine the way ancient Romans did: in clay amphorae lined with beeswax and buried in the ground. “Most orange wines are mistakes,” Morel said bluntly. His was not: I found it more delicate and fun to drink than most I’d had. Try Kabaj Rebula, or try Amphora, the wine referenced in the article that is aged in clay amphora.