I love Filipe. I got to meet him through common natural winelover friends and we hit it off from the beginning. Then we exchanged some wines, because Filipe is making wine. I remember he told me: `Before opening the bottle, put it upside down.’ It was a bit weird for me, so I thought he wanted me to keep the bottle standing up for the lees to go to the bottom of the bottle. Yeah, right! In any case, I was traveling for an hour to my friends’ place, so the bottle arrived just the way Filipe wanted it. Not only stirred but also shaken! We all loved the wine. It was his Malvazija Istarska 2017.

The next time I was gonna open one of his wines with another friend, I reached for the bottle that was standing up in my cellar in its case, and looking through it I saw it was completely clean: I got really worried. What was wrong with the wine?? Then I looked at the bottom of it and I saw the lees slowly waking up from its lethargy. Yep, you got it! I heavily shook the bottle!!! I didn’t want to miss the joy!!!

Atimo is the brand Filipe Koletnik uses for his wines. He only produces wonderful orange wines and he loves to work on the wild side of wine. His wines are not filtered and Filipe loves to leave the lees inside the bottle for helping the wine develop more flavors and aromas and also to help it age longer. I have tasted and enjoyed so much the 2016 and 2017 vintages of his Malvazija.

Filipe works something different to other winemakers. He wants to produce orange wines and he wants the must of the grapes to be in contact with the skins for long periods. So what he has done since he started making wine eleven years ago is working with grape varieties whose skin is think enough for enduring long macerations. Because Filipe doesn’t do one or two weeks, Filipe doesn’t do two or three months. Filipe goes the distance of nine months for two of his wines, and twelve months for another of his wines. Hence, the varieties that he managed to identify as best suitable to go this length of time on the skins are Ribolla Gialla/Rebula, Malvazija Istarska and Riesling.

Once he settled on the grapes, he searched for the best places to work with them. Instead of building a cellar, Filipe went more practical and decided to make his wines at some friends’ cellars. For the Malvazija he works in Croatian Istria, where the vineyards, as in any other place he runs, are managed the way he wants. No chemicals and sometimes following biodynamical methods. In Istria he works in Bruno Trapan’s winery, Trapan Wine Station, where the conditions for his passion are optimal.

In Goriška Brda, Slovenia, Filipe works his Rebula in Jure Štekar’s winery Vina Štekar. Here the Rebula is the Queen. There is no other variety in this part of Slovenia and the neighbor Italian Collio that adapts better to making excellent orange wines. When you taste the most known and recognized wines of the area, Atimo Rebula is right there. Finally, for working with the Riesling, Filipe goes to South Styria in Austria, where Hartmut Aubell’s winery, Weingut Rebenhof Hartmut Aubell, is located.

As I mentioned, Filipe wants the must to macerate on the skins for at least nine months. This is the case of the Rebula and the Malvazija, but with the Riesling he goes a step beyond, adding three more months of maceration. Quite a stretch of time. By the way, the maceration takes place in 550-liter oak barrels. Then he adds another 12 months of ageing.

Filipe has also produced a wonderful Chardonnay back in 2016 with grapes coming from a biodynamical vineyard in Slovenia. One-time wonder wine, and already having had the pleasure of enjoying it, I can say it is an incredible wine. Unluckily, no more Chardonnay from here, as the vineyard saw its termination.

Filipe works naturally, of course, no added substances to the wines, no stabilization nor clarification. He likes to work in the vineyards both organically and biodynamically. When it comes to bottling, it can’t be any simpler. Just connecting the pipes to the barrels and let the wine free fall into the bottles.

I have already tasted some vintages of the Malvazija and the Chardonnay. Not yet the MorMal nor the Pet Nat he is producing as well, but I have already secured some bottles. The wines, and you being my faithful reader can imagine, I just love them. They are just pure grape juice. Macerated and fermented of course, but it is difficult to work more honest and truer to the grapes than what Filipe does. The tanicity is really well tamed (don’t forget about the nine or twelve months of maceration), and the oak ageing makes the wines silky and soft, no ruggedness around the edges but perfectly elegant. The acidity makes you salivate waiting for your next glass. The experience of enjoying Filipe’s wines is amazing. You can’t stop looking at the glass and the bottle.

I always joke with Filipe that Jean Michel Morel from Kabaj is my God when it comes to winemaking and especially orange wines. I tell Filipe he is becoming his prophet for me. The style of Filipe, his wines, are something special.

We will talk to Filipe Koletnik soon about his winemaking style.

(C) Atimo by Filipe Koletnik