Zaria, Batic, 2011 (Vipava Valley, Slovenia) $40
That Batic is one of the best Slovenian wineries imported I have no doubts. Since 2007, I’ve been a fan and think for the quality the wines are very well priced. With 421 years of winemaking under its belt, this family owned estate pretty much have things dialed in.
Beyond organic and biodynamic, Ivan Batic and his son, Miha, take their cues from the moon and the stars, letting the celestial world dictate harvest. This may seem like hocus pocus or on the other hand for those who have been following viticulture developments, old hack. The Farmer’s Almanac uses astronomy in its predictions and even before biodynamic viticulture became fashionable, farmers and winemakers in parts of Europe relied on the evening sky to let them know when it was time to pick.
However, Batic is the first winery in Europe to use a Physics based Cropping System based on fire and air. The PCS blows hot air, 75 degrees, at a speed of 150 kilometers an hour mimicking forces of nature to strengthen the vines. For those of us who live in the United States that would be 167 degrees Fahrenheit at 92 miles an hour.
Instead of inhumanely killing pests using chemicals that are not good for people either, the combination of these two elements helps booster the natural immunity of the vine by thickening its leaves and increasing the amount of resveratrol, an anti-oxidant, in the grapes. This in turn minimizes the amount of sulphur needed later on. The system promotes pollination in the vineyard and creates an environment where natural yeasts can flourish. The machine itself runs on wind power, as one would expect.
Batic has 47 acres of vineyard land from three towns in the Vipava Valley. Wind can be both a blessing and a curse though in this area it is more of the former. In the higher altitude vineyards (1300 ft), Batic has never had to spray. The PCS is used in the lower areas.
Batic hand picks all of its fruit. All of the wines undergo spontaneous fermentation. Minimal sulphur is used before bottling.
Zaria is an orange wine made from seven white grapes grown in the same vineyard. The varietals were co-fermented on their skins in open top Slovenian wood vats for 30 days and aged in Slovenian oak. Each barrel was bottled separately without fining, filtration or sulphur.
After trying my first orange wine nearly 20 years ago I liked the novelty but wasn’t won over. As a style, they have yet to capture my heart but every once in a while a wine like Zaria comes along and grabs my attention. Considering that many are more expensive, this is a pretty good deal. Does it leave me feeling like it is better than other $40 wines, not especially. However, it is one of the best both in quality and price in this category.
With the tannic structure of a lighter red, Zaria has some grip. Smoky with a saline quality, a faint suggestion of orange blossoms and almonds on the palate, it has a seamless balance and leaves a lasting impression. There may be some sediment so decanting is not a bad idea. 55% Pinela , 20% Zelen, 10% Rebula, 8% Vitovska, 4% Klamica, 2% Chardonnay, 1% Yellow Muscat, 13% alcohol