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Kabaj - 'The Rider' - Merlot Blend - Goriška Brda, SL - 2011
Kabaj - 'The Rider' - Merlot Blend - Goriška Brda, SL - 2011
Kabaj - 'The Rider' - Merlot Blend - Goriška Brda, SL - 2011
Load image into Gallery viewer, Kabaj - 'The Rider' - Merlot Blend - Goriška Brda, SL - 2011
Load image into Gallery viewer, Kabaj - 'The Rider' - Merlot Blend - Goriška Brda, SL - 2011
Load image into Gallery viewer, Kabaj - 'The Rider' - Merlot Blend - Goriška Brda, SL - 2011

Kabaj - 'The Rider' - Merlot Blend - Goriška Brda, SL - 2011

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When life seems lunatic who knows where madness lies?
- Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Highest elevation red grapes planted in Brda Marl and Flysch soils
2011 vintage
9 years in french barrique
Bottled 2020

The Rider - Claret a'la Brda. The rough barrels of the bumper 2011 harvest from Kabaj's small holdings of old vine Merlot, Cab and Cab Franc. Proprietor Katja Kabaj was unaware the wine existed until her husband Jean Michel brought it up from the cellar. "It is good but different” she exclaimed, “I don't recognize it, what is it?", "An experiment! Jean Michel replied, “It's been in barrel for 9 years!" Bottled August of 2020. Do not be fooled by the diminutive title of “negociant” this is Grand Cru! Dense, perfumed and impossibly suave.

From the winemaker: We do not put wine inside the wood barrel to get it a wooden taste but to enrich wine with healthy tannins that extend the lifespan of wine. We must be aware that tannins in the wood increase for some time, after that at a certain point they start to fall. The key is determining when to remove the wine from the barrel. It depends on the winemaker's knowledge and feelings to decide when this is. However you work, you need to know your work and materials first. You need to know how the material is made, what is it from and how does it impact your product. Otherwise you cannot get any good out of it. It is like cooking: you can not cook a good dish without knowing the ingredients first and how to use them. Wine is not a fashion avenue, it is part of the life of a winemaker and at the same time part of culture.

The Kabaj family has grown grapes in Goriška Brda for generations. Up until the late 80’s, like most families in the region, their harvest went to the local State cooperative. Even then they enjoyed working in the vineyards and cared very much for quality. In the late 80’s Katja Kabaj married a French enologist Jean Michel Morel who she met while he was working in neighboring Collio, Italy. They decided to settled down in Katja’s childhood village of Slovrenc and establish their own winery and family. This was the same moment Slovenia was being established after the breakup of Yugoslavia.
Goriška Brda is Slovenia’s best known wine appellation. This is due to the cross border status it shares with the more famous Italian Collio. Both Brda and Collio mean hillside. It is a vast land of verdant church topped hills spilling with vineyards, fruit orchards and groves of olives. Uniquely positioned between the Alps and the Adriatic the climate is influenced by both. Interspersed with rivers and forests the environment is clean and rich in biodiversity. Rebula and Savignonasse (Tokaj) are the premiere local varieties. Additionally many French varieties brought to the region during the Napoleonic period have found themselves at home. The cuisine is mixed; not Balkan, Austro-Hungarian or Italian but some combination of all three. Brda is a place one would hope to find special wines to justify returning.
Many of the most iconic Collio producers have Slavic surnames. These were some of the wineries who first introduced skin contact white wines to the international market. It would be inaccurate to identify these wines as culturally Italian. They were modeled after Slovene homemade wines. Collio is one of the world’s fresh wine capitals. Fresh wine is wine made in temperature controlled stainless steel so as to preserve the fresh fruity character of a wine in a way that was not possible before the technology existed. Those wines made without this are certainly closer in character to the pre-industrial wines of the area. Kabaj makes no fresh wine.

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