For Jean Michel Morel, every visit starts with a glass of his wines in your hand. It does not matter whether it is 11:00 or 19:00. You can be sure he will give you a glass of wine, and then he will start talking. And he will talk very passionately about wine and his wines. We visited Jean a few months back, and we still had pending the second part of the winery visit, as during the first one we never passed the distribution room. That gave us the best reason to repeat, and we repeated indeed. This time, before getting into it, we told him there was no way we would miss the underground cellar and he said for sure we would go. That did not assure us of anything, but the glass of wine was there so we took it easily. Going with the flow, as they say.
The first task at hand was samples of the 2014 vintage, still in unlabeled bottles: Beli Pinot (Pinot Bianco), Sauvignon, Ravan (Friulano), Rebula and Sivi Pinot (Pinot Grigio). In the area, the 2014 summer and harvest time was very rainy, and people still say it was not a great year. We only can but disagree, as other 2014 wines we have tasted were just incredible. Jean agreed to it. His 2014s are really good, with a long sapidity in each variety reflecting also the local Opoka soil. The Opoka (Ponca in Italian) is a marl limestone soil originated in the Pleistocene period rich in marine sediment. The samples were really good, with the soil character in them and at the same time they were so distinct from one another. Hard to say which one was our favorite because all five of them were absolutely enjoyable wines.
After this selection, we moved a bit back on time. 2007 was the vintage chosen for the Chardonnay and for the Amfora wine. This wonderful wine is a blend of Rebula, Malvasia and Friulano. The wine stays in the amfora untouched for one full year. This method of ageing the wine in amfora is called Kartuli, and it was developed in the ancient Caucasus area known nowadays as Georgia. His Amfora 2007 is a spectacular wine with a very special way vinification. Once he has the right blend, the must goes with the skins to the vessels until next vintage when it is passed into big oak barrels. Not all the times this happens, as sometimes it stays longer depending on how Jean feels about it. As for the Chardonnay, well, just an amazing wine.
As my faithful reader, you already know I loved these two wines. Hey, what can I say? I love all the wines Jean produces. Not my fault, but his and his only.
After these wines, we moved on to one experiment Jean is conducting including his Pinot Noir. In our first visit, we were highly surprised by how good this wine is and now we had the chance to taste his experiment. The experiment consists in burying a few cases of bottles under the sea. They rest 25 meters below the surface of the close Adriatic Sea. One particularity of this process is that every month the bottles have to be scrapped off the huge amount of red and white sea coral that get stuck to them. The bottles stay there for one year before being finally rescued. The wine was very curious. It was good too, and had a lot of sapidity. Jean said in some bottles a bit of marine water gets in. To make comparison, we enjoyed the other Pinot Noir, no sea for it. Same vintage, same vineyard and great as the first time we had the chance to taste it. Now we are convinced leaving wine in the sea floor for some months can affect the way it ages.
The first par of the visit ended with his wonderful Merlot. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I repeat myself. I’m sorry, but I love it.
It was time to go down to the cellar and see those totems of wine called quevry or amphora. Jean has a few of these vessels buried underground for his Amfora wine, and the room where they are located, which you can see through a peep hole, has an aura of a sacred ground for wine.
We moved to the barriques and barrels room, where we stated straight from them, Several varieties, several vintages still cellared, wonderful experience as you could see the difference between the same variety in the bottle for 2014 and the barrel for 2015 and 2016.
Jean makes a visit a very nice experience. The food is great, the wines are incredible but his passion is the best.
We will talk soon with Jean Michel Morel about his wines and his passion for his job.