East of the Border: Cotar

2/21/12 -

(Cellar-Aged Sausages and Barrels at Cotar)

In the store we recently had a tasting of wines from east and west of the Italian/Slovenian border.  On the Italian side we tasted two of our favorite Fruilian producers: Josko Gravner and Stanko Radikon.  The wines were fascinating, and upheld their reputation as pillars of the orange wine community.   We also sampled wines from Cotar, a Slovenian winery just across the border, and the wines were great.  Cotar’s whites have less skin contact than his Fruilian neighbors, but share in rich minerality and brilliant aromatics.  The cellar and vines are located in the tiny town of Gorjansko on the Kraus plateau a couple of miles inland.  The soil here is incredibly dense limestone with little or no top soil.  In order to plant vines one must pulverize the stone so that roots may enter.   Deep red top soil composed of clay and iron must be trucked in and then spread over the stone.  Vine density is very high and the goal is to produce one bottle of wine per plant.  Herbicides and pesticides are not used in the vineyards and the harvest is done by hand.  The painstaking attention to detail is continued in their massive two level subterranean cellar where native yeasts are used for slow fermentations.  There is a long barrel aging regimen with some new barrels used every vintage.  Many wines are at least five years old before they are released.  This does not mean that they are fully mature as both reds and whites will do quite well with additional time in bottle.  These wines are a must-try for fans of far-flung terroirs and little-known grape varieties, and a great value to boot! JR

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