Batič Merlot, Primorska, Vipava District, 2013
As far as reds go, Slovenia’s Vipava district, located in the western Primorska region not far from the Adriatic Sea and the country’s border with Italy, is at its best with mineral-driven varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Quite often they’re generally lighter in style, but exceptions can be found. Here for example from the Batič Winery, a local standard-bearer and natural wine pioneer whose wine-making roots in the area date back to the late 16th century.
I’ll expand on that pioneering aspect when I eventually visit the winery, but in short: Batič’s methods differ from most other bio-dynamic and certified organic producers in that they approach their craft with a “hands-off” philosophy, letting the wine, as they say, make itself. Rather than Google and copy-pastes what others have written about what that all entails, I’ll write about that when I’m “hands-on” at the winery. (OK, here’s one write-up on Simon Wolf’s The Morning Claret site.)
In the meantime, the 2013 Merlot, a true knock out of a wine.
Harvested and hand-picked in October from older vines that average 35 years in age, it was aged in Slovenian oak for two years prior to bottling –which was during the old moon, of course.
It’s an attractive deep ruby red, with concentrated aromas of ripe dark fruit, cherries and spice. These come in various layers much like the palate, which serves up memories of the best fresh raspberry and baked plum pie you’ve never had but now desperately want; those lead to another layer of prunes, currant and vanilla.
The tannins are a bit heavy at first, but will mellow towards the velvety side of things after about a half hour of air. I’ll try to remember to use a decanter the next time I try this.
Aging? The winery suggests through 2030; I won’t argue the point but I’d suggest giving it a decade at most.
At its €25 price point locally, it might appear as a risk to the uninitiated, or to traveling explorers on a budget. And it is. But unlike some producers –several in the more lauded Goriska Brda district upping their prices to cash in on their area’s rising star status come to mind– it’s also warranted.
Tasted October 2016