This article was supposed to be about Kmetija Hedele, a winery located at the very heart of the Vipava River Valley in Slovenia, the Vipaska Dolina DO. But soon enough it became a story about Andrea Pittana.
Andrea is an agronomist engineer who has devoted his life and work to his passion: wine. He is not only a business partner of Kmetija Hedele (Ales Pulc and Andrea Gheller being the other ones) but he also works as consultant for several wineries in the Collio area in Italy. A funny thing about his work comes around Orange wines. In a conversation with another winemaker from Vipavska Dolina, Andrea’s name came up and he said that he and Andrea were always arguing about natural wines and macerating wines on the skins. The other winemaker works this way whereas Andrea is against the way some producers nowadays justify some defects and non-positive sensorial characteristics on this style of producing wine. The funny thing is that Andrea is a consultant for some of the best Orange wine producers in Collio. Some of them are natural winemakers and with Andrea working with them we can be sure their wines are wonderful examples of what this style of wine should be.
Andrea is one of those winemakers who transpire his passion for his work. As soon as we met, we went straight to one vineyard part Chardonnay, part Sauvignon and he started explaining the soils, its effects in the aroma and flavors of the wines, the sun exposition, how they work on the field, why a training system is better than the other to one particular soil and variety, etc. He is a never-ending source of knowledge but at the same time he talks in a way you never get tired of listening.
Then we went to the church of Cerkev Marija Snežna (Saint Mary of the Snow), a small church on the top of a hill surrounded by vineyards. Here Andrea explained how we might distinct a soil of Terra Rossa, the characteristically soil in the Slovenian Kras and Italian Carso from the Flysch soil found in the Vipavska Dolina, the Ponca/Opoka we have talked about in previous articles. Simply by looking at the trees growing on each different soil could do this distinction.
After many years of being a consultant, Andrea started producing wine with his partner in Slovenia. 2011 was the first vintage that Kmetija Hedele brought to the market, a winery that produces only three white wines and no red wines, as for Andrea the Flysch soil is so great for white wines. They work with the Malvasia, the Chardonnay and the Sauvignon varieties producing single-variety wines. Andrea bears an attitude like in Burgundy as he says, ‘because of the attention that must be on the site of cultivation and the expression this can convey to the wine.’
Andrea cut his professional teeth in this French region and because of this, Chardonnay is his true calling and his dream is to produce single-vineyard wines, rather than single-varietal ones. In Vipava Valley he is lucky to work in ‘a geology that gives a great terroir effect to the wine.’ I have the feeling that we will soon see this dreams coming true.
At the winery they vinify each plot on its own. They have a bit less than 10 hectares in total for a total number of 30.000 bottles. They are slowly adding several small plots to the winery to increase that number to 15 hectares. Each plot goes straight to oak barrels (obviously from France) after pressing for a period close to a year, then it stays another year in steel tanks and the final blend is done before bottling.
They work organically in all their vineyards and also they are very conscious about their carbon footprint. Because of this, instead of building a new winery they are utilizing small basements in different houses in the village of Gaberje. Here is where we tasted 2018 samples in barrels and 2017 samples in tanks. Then we opened a few bottles, including a really wonderful Malvazija 2011, their first vintage that was simply an outstanding wine.
And the visit was not over after tasting their wines, but we went to nearby Vipava village for a coffee. Then we went to the Vipava Valley Tourist Office where besides tourist information they have a room where you can taste different Vipavska Dolina wines. Amazing.
A wonderful discovery. Vipavska Dolina. Kmetija Hedele. Andrea Pittana. Soon we will talk to him about his Burgundian background and all he is doing in Italy and Slovenia.