We love Friuli wines. We love Friuli white wines. And we love Friuli Orange wines. We discovered them not long ago and each time we find a new one we fall deeper in love with them. Orange wines producers are different from the rest. They are not better or worse, they simply are different. They have a different mentality and a different philosophy. It is true than some non-Orange wine producers can share their philosophy. But we think Orange wines are a style that you either love or dislike, there is not middle point. Once you love them, you are lost. You are lost because they are very special, and normally their production is not that much, so you need to work hard on finding them. But once you do it, they are so grateful you can’t go back again to mainstream wines. Well, maybe you can but you will always long for your Orange wines.
Producing Orange wines is not only buying an amphora instead of an oak barrel and leaving the must macerating in contact with the skins for a longer time while the vase is buried underground. It is way more than that, it is a philosophy. It is a way of understanding wine, a way of understating how Nature works in the land, in the variety and in the grape. Then it is a way of doing wine firstly because you love wine and then because you want to allow those elements being part of the wine to express themselves. No the way you want them to be, not the way the average wine consumer wants it to be, but just what Nature wants the wine to be. As a producer you need to understand this for you to do great wine.
Damijan Podversic is one of these producers. He has a philosophy about winemaking and about Nature. And about the land. And about interpreting and understanding it all. He works with the local white varieties Ribolla Gialla, Friulano and Malvasia to make wine that goes through long periods of contact of the must with the skins. In some cases up to 90 days, and never less than 60 days. And his wines are among the best and sought-after in Italy. And his wines are made for the soul, not only for the body.
Damijan follows and listens to Nature. And to the Moon cycles. He doesn’t want to use techniques or to produce technical wines. He wants to do natural wines where the land and the grape express themselves, wines that he can’t make better but just accompany in their journey, always with a big respect for Nature. If not, the wine has no soul. Damijan doesn’t need any kind of analysis to know when he has to start harvesting. On the contrary, he walks the vineyards, he tastes the grapes and he looks for the Moon phase. And his biodynamic beliefs make him not filtering nor cleaning the wine or doing any other invasive method, he just uses a bit of sulphur and nothing else.
Damijan has six hectares of vineyards in Monte Calvario in Gorizia. He has planted here the local white varietals Ribolla Gialla, Malvasia, Friulano and Pinot Grigio and then two red international varieties: Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.Then in San Floriano he has half an hectare with Chardonnay, two more hectares in Gradiscutta with Chardonnay, Malvasia and Friulano and finally one hectare and a half at Piedimonte with Friulano, Chardonnay and Malvasia. The soil is the typical marl sandstone Flysch (Ponca) one we find here in Collio, low in nutrients that make the roots go deeper looking for water and nurture. Here, with the situation between the Pre-Julian Alps and the Adriatric Sea, the international varieties mature fast while the local ones take more time to mature. The vineyards also have different expositions thought the best one is South.
Podversic produces six wines, all of them Venezia Giulia IGT. The single varietal ones are
Damijan Malvasia: Maceration in open troncoconical oak vats for 60-90 days with no temperature control. Ageing is 36 months in oak and 12 more months in bottle.
Damijan Pinot Grigio 2010-2011: Maceration in open troncoconical oak vats for 30 days with no temperature control. Ageing in oak was 24 months for the 2010 and 12 for the 2011. Then in August 2012 both vintages were blended spending another six months in the bottle.
Damijan Ribolla Gialla: Maceration in open troncoconical oak vats for 60-90 days with no temperature control. Ageing is 36 months in oak and 12 more months in bottle.
Damijan Nekaj (Friulano): Maceration in open troncoconical oak vats for 60-90 days with no temperature control. Ageing is 36 months in oak and 12 more months in bottle.
The white blend is Damijan Kaplja (Chardonnay 40%, Friulano 30%, Malvasia Istriana 30%). Maceration in open oak vats for 60-90 days with no temperature control. Ageing is 36 months in oak and 12 more months in bottle.
The red blend is Damijan Prelit (70% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon). Maceration in open troncoconical oak vats for 40 days. Ageing is 23 months in oak and 12 more months in bottle.
Damijan works very well with the white wines as we have seen. One important thing for him is serving temperature. We are always told to drink white wines chilled, below 10 degrees. He says that the temperature must not be below 15 degrees. A natural wine that has not gone through cooling during fermentation is unable to entirely express its character at a lower temperature.
We will speak soon to Damijan about his wines and his winemaking philosophy.
Photos © Maurizio Frullani and Andrea Corbellini