Matej Skerlj.JPG

As with many of my ‘finds’ they usually derive from the beautiful enjoyement of eating and drinking with friends and family in foreign climes. A dangeorus buying policy, that wouldn’t probably serve most well, what with a heady mixture of good times, flowing wines, small plates, and big plates, and usually a dose of good music, ones objectivity could be slightly impaired.

In this instance I came across Matej’s wines at Kiln, a super restaurant in Soho, London in only its 2nd week of opening. I was blown away immediately after the first sip from the Vitovska, a wine that I’d never heard of, let alone tasted, thrust upon me from a good looking gal, with more tattoo coverage than actual skin showing! The wines offered such depth of flavour, but coupled with a delicacy about them, that were thought provoking, yet utterly delicious at the same time.  It took me a while to convince Matej to allocate us some from his tiny production, but as in his cellar, patience is key, and rewarded.

Matej Skerlj (Scare-lee) farms just two hectares of vines across a collection of tiny parcels hidden amongst the wood of the Carso (a limestone plateau region extending across the border of southwestern Slovenia and northeastern Italy, next to the region of Friuli)

Just inland from the sparkling waters of the Adriatic on a rocky plateau some 250 metres above sea level, this is a remarkable terroir. Vines are planted over a thin layer of terra rossa, red dirt rich in iron. In search of life, they push deep through the fossilised limestone below, resulting in wines with wonderful acidity and an often profound minerality. The plateau is cooled by a breeze from the sea and the bora, a wind that comes from mountains to the east.

Vines are cared for according to organic principles, but the estate is not officially certified. All field work is done by hand. The family’s small, underground cellar was dug by hand into the karst limestone, which keeps temperatures moderate and humidity constant even in the hot summer months. Grapes are fermented spontaneously on indigenous yeasts in older oak barrels, and wine is aged for at least two years in barrel before release. All wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered.