If you think of Italy as a boot, the Carso would be a tassel dangling off just behind the knee. The Carso extends beyond Italy, though, into what is now Slovenia. It’s one of those crossroads regions that has changed hands from one empire to another, from the Habsburgs to Yugoslavia and now Italy, each leaving vestiges of culture and language.
Although technically considered part of Friuli, the Carso is far more rugged, comprised of a limestone plateau with a thin covering of reddish, iron-laden soil that’s buffeted by the Bora, a cold wind that sweeps down from the northeast at speeds that can knock over vehicles, let alone vines. You have to be a real optimist, or maybe a bit crazy, to become a wine grower in the Carso.
Matej Skerlj’s grandfather bought a farm in the village of Sales after World War II, and Matej joined his father in the cellar at the age of 24, releasing his first wines commercially in the 2004 vintage. He makes just three wines from varieties typical of the region—a red from terrano, a white from vitovska, and a malvasia that, in the 2015 vintage, was one of the most delicious wines we tasted during our Friuli panels. On a restaurant list it would be categorized as an “orange” wine due to the deep copper hue, and while it shares a density and chewy texture with other skin-macerated wines, its rich flavors of apricot, dried pineapple and orange marmalade show a delicacy and precision that some wines in this category never achieve, while avoiding any tannic bitterness. It’s an orange wine that will entice aficionados, novices and everyone in between.
Every week, our editors highlight a wine that intrigued them in our blind panel tastings, expanding on their tasting note in this space. These are entirely editorial choices; there are no paid placements. Subscribers can also access the original tasting note by searching here.
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