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…spontaneously fermenting

A tasting note: 2005 Franco Terpin Ribolla Gialla

Azienda Agricola Franco Terpin
Loc. Valerisce n°6/a
34170 – San Floriano del collio – Go
Tel +39 0481 884215
If you haven’t yet tasted the wines from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia area of Italy, then perhaps you should.  Sitting in the furthermost North East Corner of Italy bordering Slovenia, this wine region has been getting a lot of attention lately. Is this because the majority of Italian skin-macerated whites (aka orange wines) hail from this region? Is it because the  region produces age-worthy, mineral wines that make you sit back and say “huh…what grape was this again?”?  Is it because this is the home of many natural wines, which also gets a lot of attention these days?  I would place a check-mark next to “all of the above” because these wines are serious.  And many are seriously good!

Most  of the producers (and grapes) in this area of Italy have names that the rest of Italy cannot pronounce. Take Vodopivec for example and the only grape they vinify, the Vitovoska. Even the wines made in this corner of Italy stray from the every-day wines that the average Italian recognizes and consumes. Yet, these are very much wines. These are living wines, often made only with grapes. Nothing added, nothing taken.

The wine for this tasting note was produced by Franco Terpin. A little easier to pronounce, yet far from typical.  Franco farms in a natural fashion without the  use of industrial fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides.  “The vine listens. The vine understands”, says Franco.  Franco says that the Ribolla Gialla (called Rebula in this area) is difficult to grow and he only vinifies it in exceptional vintages. Harvest is done by hand, fermentation  (initially in steel) is spontaneous thanks to the extended skin contact.  The wine is then transferred to oak where it spends about one year on the lees. It  is then transferred to stainless steel where it spends another year. Then it’s bottled without fining or filtering and is left to rest for yet another year before going for sale.  Approximately 2500 bottles produced.  This wine is not available in Norway or Poland.

Date tasted: Tuesday May 17th – Norwegian Independence day – 1845

Appearance: a slightly cloudy, orange-hued wine with a high intensity reflection. I just love the look of orange wines!

Nose: Oak  jumps out of the glass at first, with hints of reduction. Not a lot of fruit showing at this time. Mineral.  Some orange peel emerging, but the wine is still closed and not showing well yet. Some very slight, slight balsamic hints.

Palate: mineral, dry and surprisingly, the oak is less evident on the palate. The wine is quite intense on the palate and ends (many seconds after first entering the mouth) with a slight bitterness.  Medium-high acidity. Alcohol seems high, yet is well-integrated. The wood dries out the mouth very slightly, but not offensively . Very focused finish. Reminds of the peach iced-tea I just drank.  Super food wine i would imagine.

Wine is decanted………


Same night at  20:25:

Appearance hasn’t changed

Nose: More fruit has emerged. No sign of oak anymore. More herbs.

Palate: Still quite mineral. Oily. Orange peel. Pork fat, bacon. Alcohol is the only disturbance here, but the wine has been sitting in a decanter for almost two hours at room temp. Sits a long time on the palate. again, serious food wine. Fatty, oily. Texture is nice.

as we finished the last sips about an hour later, the wine had developed the sort of texture that helped the wine  just slip easily down the throat


 


Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy, natural wine (just about), orange wine

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A tasting note: 2006 Vinarstvo Simčič Rebula Seleklija (Reserva)

2009-05-19_16832009-05-19_1687

Date tasted:  May 19th, 2009

Exciting things are happening in Western Slovenia and North Eastern Italy.  The exciting thing that both countries have in common is the Rebula (Ribolla Gialla) grape which is quickly gaining cult status among us wine nerds.    It produces aromatic wines with high acidity and when a little skin contact is added to the mix, wines of great complexity and length can be produced.  (White) wines with skin contact are gaining popularity in the wine world and being referred to as “orange wines” due the color that extended skin contact gives the wine.

2009-05-19_1693Vinarstvo Simčič is situated in Ceglo (Zegla), a small village in the region of Goriska Brda, by the Slovene-Italian border, by the Italian hills of Collio.  Half of their vineyards lie in Slovenia while the other half lie in Italy.  An hour and half drive will get you both to Venice or the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana. I have been told that this is one of the top producers in Slovenia, if not the top.  In fact, I was speaking to a respected source who also sampled some of their red wines (blind) and said that they were better than many Bordeaux’s….

They grow 100% of their grapes in their vineyards, which cover 16 ha.   They believe in the most natural methods of viticulture, reducing crop and leaving the grapes on the vine as long as possible.  They also follow ancestral and traditional vinification methods in the cellar, which is located 5 meters underground.

This wine is the Rebula Reserva (Seleklija).  The Rebula vines are 48-51 years old and lie at an altitude of 200-250 meters above sea level.  They have a North-West exposure and the soil is composed of marl, slate and sandstone.  The grapes are hand-harvested (bunches are carefully selected)  at the beginning of October.  The fermentation takes place with the skins in 3000 liter conical oak barrels (tino) using only indigenous yeasts.  The wine is separated from the skins after 6 months of maceration.  The wine is then matured in big oak barrels for 2 years.  The wine was bottled in September of 2008 without fining or filtration.  No added sulfur.  Only 2000 bottles produced.  13.5% Alcohol (14% according to the label).  Total acidity is 4.56 grams per liter.  Price in Norway is 250 Norwegian Kroner ($39)

2009-05-19_1688First tasting:  15:51 (3:51pm):  (from the refrigerator)

Appearance: Apricot orange.  Very clean looking with medium intensity.

Nose: Yellow fruit especially yellow plums.  Fresh apricots.  Hints of acacia honey.  Hints of herbs with underlying minerals

Palate: Ripe fruit, apricots, sultana raisins (semi-dry).  Medium to medium plus acidity.  Medium to medium plus alcohol.  Long finish, light minerality.

Second tasting:  16:31 (4:31pm):  (cellar temperature)

Nose: Tighter, more complex yet more focused.

Palate: Focus on the palate also sharper, alcohol a lot more integrated (interesting since this was now a few degrees warmer).  The wine has become very elegant with very mild tannins starting to emerge.

Third tasting:  21:00 (9:00pm):  (cellar temperature)

Nose & Palate: Amazing focus and elegance with “sweet” fruit emerging.  Lots of apricots.  Mild tannins, ripe acidity and great length.

This wine improved after being open half a day.  I often find that wines that are more natural tend to improve over the course of several hours and even days.  Unfortunately, this wine was so good that it never had a chance to make it to day two or three.  In my opinion this is a serious wine well worth the price tag.

2009-05-19_1681

Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Goriska Brda, natural wine (100% living wine), orange wine, Slovenia

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Vinosseur is the company name of sommelier Joseph R. Di Blasi. Vinosseur.com is his web page where he writes about wine, food, restaurants and other gastronomic experiences.

Joseph has a special place in his heart for quality wines from the old world, especially France & Italy, with a strong focus on Organic, Biodynamic and Natural wines.

Joseph grew up in Italy and California, but left The States in 2002 and now resides in Poland.

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Joseph would love to hear from you! You can contact him by email at vinosseur@gmail.com