Today we’ll be moving to Karst, to the village of Šepulje, where Sebastijan Štemberger and his family are crafting some authentic wines crafted by the region’s spirit, rooting in the tradition. We’ll be looking at their rendition of the Zelen, marked by maceration and maturation in oak and concrete vessels.
Actually, I walked to TaBar, where I let myself be spoiled over lunch, and while sipping this nectar, the decision was easy, I’ll write about this wine tonight, and of course, I’ll be touching also dishes at the end of this post, so make sure to read it through and through.
Zelen is an indigenous variety of the Vipava valley. You will find it also on Karst, mainly in the small sub-district of Vrhé, where it is allowed to grow and be used to produce quality wines. The expression we look at tonight, however, is not what you typically expect of this variety.
Organically farmed grapes are hand-harvested, destemmed and crush. The pomace macerates with vigorous cap management in open vats for four days. The juice is then decanted into large, conical oak barrels with the addition of a third of grape berries, where it ferments and matures for six months. Finally, it is racked into a large acacia barrel and concrete egg to mature for the next five months. After assembling, it is bottled without filtration.
This results in a Zelen with a hazy, bright amber shade and dense texture.
Its intense bouquet reveals apple puree, ripe quince and tepka pear, dried apricot, yellow plum, hints of grape berries soaked in alcohol, honey, white pepper, oregano and a touch of hot white stone in its finish.
Its taste is dry, soft and with reasonable warmth. Its freshness is vivid, leaving a salty mineral signature and a slightly astringent feel. A wine of intensity, full-bodied with lasting persistency. An elegant rendition of a macerated and unfiltered Zelen expressing flavours of yellow plum, lemon peel, apricot, pear and honey in the aftertaste.
The staff at TaBar literally spoiled me at lunch today with their marvellous creations. Besides the regular Tapas menu, they also offer lunch menus around noon.
The menu changes weekly, so today, I indulged in their cuttlefish served over slices of overhead kohlrabi with squid tint and oil, which perfectly balanced flavours of the sea with earthiness. The homemade tagliatelle with boar sauce and fresh black truffle was out of this world and perfectly “al dente” and came with a salad in the form of poached green beans. Right when I was thinking: “Boy, this was good, and I’m full!” I couldn’t resist the dessert proposals. So I opted for the white chocolate parfait in hemp seeds served over apricot slices and apricot jus – a heavenly combination making sure I ended in the most pleasing food-coma.