On the beauty of skin contact
Marjan Simčič represents the 5th generation of Simčič winegrowers in the Goriška Brda wine region at the Slovenian/Italian border.
Brda is just a continuation of Collio hills (Friuli) on the Slovenian side. From a general point of view, Collio (Brda) features great sloped vineyards planted on the so called 'Ponca' soil. 'Ponca' soil is practically Flysch, marls with sedimentation influenced during the middle-late Paleocene and early Eocene. This soil exhibits layers of minerals (calcium and limestone in primis) from marine deposits intermixed with blue/grey clay. The combination of vineyard exposition and soil composition is what assures perfect ripeness levels without compromising freshness, sapidity and tension in finished wines.
Simčič owns 18 hectares of vines in Brda, farmed organic and divided by variety depending on the soil differences of each plot. His aim is to match each variety to the most suited soil type.
For a better understanding of Brda 'micro-terroirs' I suggest to have a look to the map in Fig.1 of this link and comments/references therein.
Traditional winemaking techniques and only natural yeasts are used in the cellar. The wines are divided into three ranges: Classic, Selekcija and Opoka. The Selekcija range (here tasted) are old-vines selections of the best crus, fermented in wood with skins and aged in large wood casks. The wines are bottled without fining or filtration.
Skin contact whites, or so-called "Orange Wines", are one of the most interesting and trendy creations of this wine region. The 2 wines I have tasted are marked by long skin contact during fermentation (i.e. they are fermented like red wines). However they do not have the oxidative style that characterises many "Orange wines". Indeed their color is more on the golden side than orange.
Marjan Simcic Teodor Belo Selekcija 2011 (4.3/5)
Thsi is a blend of 60% Ribolla Gialla 20% Sauvignonasse (i.e. Friulano) and 20% Pinot Grigio, fermented separately with a skin contact of 14, 5 and 2 days respectively. The wines are aged for 22 months in both barrique and 30hl barrel, then blended. Delicate notes of white flowers and white and tropical dried fruits are enriched by vanilla hints from oak. On the palate there is great sapidity, very pleasant grip from tannins on the mid-palate, long mineral finish on almonds notes. Made for food. 385 cases made.
Marjan Simcic Ribolla Selekcija 2012 (4.2/5)
Old-vines selection of Ribolla Gialla (>50yo). Fermented in 30hl conical oak with 6-months skin contact. Then aged for 18 months in 500l barrels and 6 months in bottle. Notes of apples, candied zest and hints of marzipan. Elegant and noble, with good sapidity and structure. More nervous than Teodor Belo, also a little bit bitterer on the finish. Again, great with food. 125 cases made.