Rebula, Kabaj, 2010 (Goriska Brda, Slovenia) $25
Kabaj released its first wine 20 years ago but the family has a long history of viticulture. This begs the question, why did they need a Frenchman to put their family name on the map? It all began with love and then the marriage of Katja Kabaj to Jean-Michel Morel. Parisian born, Morel worked in the Languedoc, Roussillon, Bordeaux and Collio before crossing the Italian border into Slovenia. He was introduced to ‘orange winemaking’ at Gravner and furthered his study in Georgia (as in the Republic of, not the state). Today, he is a member of the Xeloba Kartuli association (www.kvevri.org), an international group of wine and cider makers who use the ancient method of fermenting in amphora, clay jugs.
Rebula, aka ‘Ribolla,’ is originally from Greece but has been grown in Slovenia for some 750 years, at least. Literally, it means reboil for the grape’s propensity to undergo malolactic fermentation no matter what the conditions. Hand harvested and fermented on its skins for 30 days, and aged in French oak barrels for four months, this wine has a freshness that is not typical of a lot of orange wines.
Orange wines are often on the pricy side. Here and there you can find one that is pretty reasonable but the better ones are generally up there. That is what makes Kabaj’s Rebula a great value. It might not have the layers of Radikon’s Ribolla Gialla but has much more gumption than others that are closer to Radikon in price.
Bright with citrus, herbs and spice, it is a wonderful introduction to this outstanding producer and if you are new to orange wine, this genre as well. 12.5% alcohol