"Just one grape," Vodopivec explains, "because that offers more than enough to study."
Vodopivec grows wine on five hectares of Carso, a small area of Friuli in northeastern Italy, on the border with Slovenia. He himself describes the area as "Harsh, unpleasant, difficult." The wind blows hard on this plateau that lies above the city of Trieste, and the mineral-rich and rocky soil contains layers of lime. Vodopivecs vineyard is 260 meters above sea level.
When Paolo and his brother Walter took over the family farm in 1997, they decided to exclusively work with vitovska, the green grape variety that is unique to the area, and Paolo thought it could provide a much higher quality than previously seen. All vines replanted and decided to manage the cultivation and manual work completely without chemical additives in the vineyards and in the bottle.
The brothers were not interested in making the kind of clear and "fresh" white wines that the world expected from Italy at this time. It was decided instead to make wine from white grapes that are macerate with their skin, so-called "orange wines". An approach that has fallen somewhat into oblivion, but in recent years has come back strong among dedicated growers who are interested to work with what they get from the ground and nature. "What Nature has given to the vineyard, the grape now gives to the wine."
In 2004, the brothers took another step in the evolution when they started buying handmade terracotta containers from Georgia, called qvevri, which was buried in the ground for a natural and stable temperature balance. The amphora also makes it possible to work with a more prolonged skin contact. Today, some of Vodopivecs wines on their skin are over a year. According to Paolo , amphora helps to preserve the grape material "true integrity."
Farming Practices: organic (no irrigation, no systemic pesticides, no artificial chemicals or fertilizers)
Soil: limestone & rocky soils high in iron and magnesium
Trellis system: alberello head pruning in neat rows / canes starting at 30 cm from ground
Hectares/Acres: 3.0 ha (massale selection)
Harvest Technique: by hand over 16-17th September
Year Vines Were Planted: 1990
Sulphur: minimal sulphur at bottling (total SO2 typically 30-35 mg/l)
Vodopivec, Vitovska Origine 2011
15 days skin contact before the press, then 36 months in 3000 liters Slovenian oak barrels.
The 2009 Vitovska Origine is a bomb. Rich, powerful andstructured, it captures the essence of what makes Vitovksa in the Carso district so incredibly appealing. Dried pears, flowers, spices and mint all flesh out as this deep, resonant white shows off its irrepressible personality. The finish is long, rich and resonant. A broad, expansive white, the Origine should drink well early, but it also has enough depth to age nicely for at least a handful of years. Overall, the style is a bit exuberant next to the more subtle Solo MM9. Both wines are striking, each in their own way. The Origine was fermented and aged in large Slavonian oak casks. 94 Points Antonio Galloni
Vodopivec, Vitovska 2010
6 months with skin contact in amphora, then 24 months in 3000 liters Slovenian oak barrels.
The 2010 Vitovska opens with exotic, Riesling-inflected hints of petrol, smoke, apricot pit and savory herbs. Big, rich and textured in the glass, the 2010 is a white wine only in color. The depth of fruit and tannic structure are decidedly those of a red wine. White flowers and a hint of spices linger on the finish.
Vodopivec, Vitovska T 2011
6 months with skin contact in amphora, then 30 months in amphora.
Vodopivec, Vitovska Solo/MM11
From a parcel that Paolo believes to produce the best grapes.
6 months with skin contact in the amphora, another 6 months in amphora without skin, then finally 24 months in 3000 liters Slovenian oak barrels.