Thanks to this month’s focus on Orange wines or skin contact wines by the #WinePW group, I am focusing on a winery from Slovenia. Before I delve into Movia and my homemade Sushi extravaganza, let’s look at our host Martin Redmond blog Enofylz invitation post on Orange wines which you can find here. Orange wines are white wines that have undergone skin-contact with their grapes for an extended period of time. Generally speaking, when making white wines, the grapes are pressed and the juice is separated from the skins. With red wines, the juice often ferments with the skins for a period of time that varies according to what the winemaker is looking to do and the color and tannins they want to extract. Rose wines for example often spend a very short time on the skins and that’s why they have that beautiful light color. Orange wines are a separate category that has had a big splash over the last 15-20 years but it is actually a very traditional way of making wines as well.
Thanks to this weekend’s focus on Orange Wines, I have had the chance to revisit a wine that I loved from Movia, a classic Slovenian winery that has a true cult following in the United States. Despite Slovenia’s close proximity to Italy, especially Trieste and Friuli Venezia Giulia, I never made it there for a visit during all my years in Il bel paese. If one can’t visit a country, I firmly believe that sipping their wines and learning about them is a good interim substitute until the occasion presents itself.
In this vein, I attended a seminar on Slovenian wines at the American Wine Society conference in 2018 and it was fascinating and have tasted many of their wines at Vinitaly but Movia was my first introduction to Slovenia, the Brda wine region and it seemed the appropriate choice for today. I came upon this blog post I wrote about another one of the cult heroes of Orange wine and my first experience with Orange Wines – Gravner.
Back to Movia and their estate which has about 22 hectares and dates back to the 1700s. The Kristančič family which owns the estate inherited it through a wedding in 1820. About half of the estate is on the Italian side of the Goriška Brda (Collio). Everyone is enamored of the winemaker on this estate, Ales, who is often seen in photos standing on his barrels using a wine thief to taste wine. In the photo above he is in a more relaxed pose. I have not had the pleasure of meeting Ales but I have tasted a number of his wines and they are all interesting, different and memorable. I particularly like the minerality and the acidity in his wines which I imagine comes from the soils (marl) and climate (Mediterranean) as well as his wine making techniques. Likely a combination of all three, if you want to taste a wine from Slovenia, Movia is a great place to begin and to end up as well.
The wine I am writing about today is called Lunar and is made from 100% Ribolla Gialla. The reason I made homemade sushi with this dish, my first attempt in 25+ years, is because the first time I tried Ribolla Gialla in a restaurant it was at a Sushi restaurant in Milan and the pairing was perfect. That’s the backstory of this pairing.
This wine is made without added sulphur. I make wines at home and not adding sulphur to a wine is such a risky and precise choice and one that shows the incredible confidence in one’s abilities. I have made wines with and without sulphur and the difference is noticeable and in my case, decisive not in a good way. In the hands of an amazing winemaker such as Movia’s owner, it seems a perfect way to go.
The grapes for this wine are late harvest and are hand picked. They move from the vine to being fermented in a very short amount of time, at most two hours. The grapes are destemmed by hand – what an amount of work that is – and is placed in new oak barrels with caps. Fermentation starts with the berried which release wine. The wine stays for 8 months and is gravity racked into bottles during the full moon – hence the name Lunar. In addition to no sulphur, they use no filtration and no pressing.
Color: Amber in color
Bouquet: some oak notes, faint hint o herbs, dusty earth, dried fruits and mature apricot
Palate: Dry, minerality and acidity complement spice, flint, and herbs with overlay of mature white fruit and dried fruit. Superbly interesting and incredibly intense. This wine is layered and elegant.
This orange wine from Movia would pair perfectly with Sushi, even my homemade one thanks to the acidity in the wine and the mixture of flavors in the sushi. It wouldn’t overwhelm the dish because their is a bit of Salmon inside that can stand up to this wine. The salmon was not smoked but it had been cured with herbs and tasted richer than a grilled Salmon or a smoked salmon. It was very oily but it was perfect for this sushi.
I am in locked down at my parent’s home so we could be out of New York City and have a backyard. My Dad loves all things from Asia and I can find a treasure trove of ingredients here that I would not have in my home including a perfect box of Sushi Rice ready to be used. I actually took a class in making sushi 25+ years ago, bought a little kit, and never made it again. The experience was a fun Father-Daughter bonding experience and we will be repeating our Kappa Maki and maybe use another type of Salmon for our next attempts.
Orange wine and sushi seemed like a great idea to me and I was not wrong. I don’t drink enough orange wines and this experience reminded me that I should drink more of them.
Check out these posts on Orange Wine from the #WinePW Crew: