In our trips to the Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giulia we have discovered some extraordinary producers elaborating wonderful wines with the local grape varieties. We have discovered Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon wines in Gorizia, Ribolla Gialla in Oslavia and Malvasia in San Michele. Going a bit southeast we arrive to the land where the Vitovska reaches its zenith. Here in the Karst this local variety offers its best wit producers such as Beniamino Zidarich. His is a small winery founded in 1998 and producing around 20,000 bottles per year. Beniamino started with half a hectare and he expanded it to the current 8 hectares he owns.
Azienda Zidarich is located in the town or Prepotto, where a thin layer of red limestone soil covers a structure of stone, which takes a huge amount of work and resources to work with. The area is often affected by the cold and violent Bora, a local wind that often exceeds 120 km/h. Here the climate is continental and benefits from the mild weather that blows up from the Adriatic Sea and the protection of the Pre-Julian Alps. The vines are planted at an altitude of 280 meters above sea level, trained using the Guyot and Alberello methods and with a high density of 8,000 to 10,000 plants per hectare that yields around 50 quintals of grapes. The single vineyards are rather small, but cultivated with maximum attention, concentration and care.
Zidarich has a 1,200 square meter underground cellar carved five stories down into the rock. It is composed of a stone-vaulted aging room, storage rooms, work areas and a tasting room on the top floor with views of the surrounding vineyards and the sea in the distance.
As we are passionate about Friuli white wines, we can’t go without talking about Zidarich wines. Beniamino works really well with the Malvasia and the Vitovska.
With the Vitovska the produces an IGT Venezia Giulia one, called Green Vitovska that he ferments and macerates with its own skins in open vats without ontrolling temperatures and using native yeasts. Then it goes to big tonni of Slavonian oak for 13 months
The Vitovska is also IGT Venezia Giulia. The difference with the first one is that instead of 13 months in oak it stays 24 months.
The V. Vitovska Collection comes next, the Riserva one. The number V (5) was added to the label because represents harmony and balance in cosmic numerology. This wine is only made in exceptional years. The grapes ferment and macerate on the skins for 20 days and then the wine is aged four years in Slavonian oak barrels. The wine is particularly beautiful with a strong mineral flavor and acidity.
Vitovska Kamen. Kamen means stone, and that’s where this wine makes its process. Zidarich owns a stone vat made of 5 different pieces where fermentation and maceration occurs. The must is macerated with the skins for about 18 days, after which the wine is transferred into oak barrels for the aging process.
Really an exceptional work with the local Vitovska varietal.
The Malvasia DOC Carso is another of the great wines of Zidarich. After destemming of the grapes, they macerate and ferment on the skins in open vats without controlling temperatures and using native yeasts. The malolactic fermentation takes place in large oak barrels and the aging is in medium and large barrels of Slavonian oak for two years.
Prulke IGT Venezia Giulia is the house white blend, produced with 60% Sauvignon, 20% Vitovska and 20% Malvasia. The wine stays two years in the cellar before it is released into the market, most of them in Slavonian oak barrels.
With the red grapes Zidarich produces also very interesting wines. The local Terrano-Teran variety is the king, with a single varietal wine IGT Venezia Giulia wine with 20 months of oak. Zidarich Rosso is a blend of 40% Merlot, 40% Terrano and 20% Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso.
Ruje is another of the IGT Venezia Giulia red blends, in this case 90% Merlot and 10% Terrano. The aging is in small, medium and large barrels of Slavonian oak for two years, followed by a year in the bottle.
And if you think there is nothing else, nope, not correct. We also have a spumante produced with Teran. Zi-Da. The wine has a second fermentation in the bottle and stays in the cellar for one year in Slavonian oak.
We will talk soon to Beniamino Zidarich about his wines and his winemaking philosophy.
Photos (c) Azienda Agricola Zidarich