The Karst Earth
…or should we say Hostile Rock

Guest Writer – Eros Longhin, Sommelier & Rock Specialist

This land requires a total hands-on approach, quite literally everywhere.

If you want to do anything, you’ll have to dig and shift stones.
Here you’ve got to position yourself wisely. WATER infiltrates, it hides and then reappears when you least want it. Here, it’s the four winds who command. These are the sons of Astreo and Eos, the Gods of Dusk & Dawn. In summer days they are a cooling breeze across your sun baked shoulders, yet in winter their force can be unrelentingly bitter and cutting.

Carso is a frontier land of blood and iron rich soils.

Plant life takes hold amongst the craggy rock where its future will be shaped by the powerful Bora wind. Here the brave cultivate the native white variety VITOVSKA. It’s well suited, capturing territorial expression as it pushes its roots deep to find sustenance, thus acquiring its noteworthy minerality. The drying on-shore breeze brushes the saline soulful perfume of the sea onto its leaves and berries while the sun, reflecting on surface stones, heat & illuminate the lightly bloomed fruit.

All this and more awaits you in the glass and in the cellar of Benjamin Zidarich.

The winery’s 8 hectares are cultivated using guyot and bush-trained ‘alberello’, each vine with red earth and limestone at its feet and with the gulf of Trieste on the horizon.

The cellar doors open to welcome all, with stone pillars depicting the seasons, dictating the times, commanding them …. As you begin to descend, you’ll realize this place is an integral part of the territory, excavated into the rock. The materials are all exclusively from the Karst. With each step the stone embraces you, you can feel it breathe as you place your hands to make contact with it. Walking through the oak barrels, you’re compelled to reach out to touch their warmth in the cool stillness. Temperature and humidity vary slightly during the seasons but they are always what nature dictates.

Descending further into the vaults you’ll encounter the unique stone fermentor. Benjamin, seeking to further strengthen the territorial bond, commissioned this unique VAT. Assembled from five individual pieces of local marble, after destemming, it’s in this VAT that his Vitovska Kamen completes its 18 days maceration and fermentation on the skins (at a constant ambient temperature) before then passing into oak barrels for ageing. Soul awakening moments.

We return to the terrace above to find ourselves and the sun inside a glass of…
*Luminous, gold, clinging to the glass walls…Intense and complex on the nose, the prevailing fruits of pear and apple grow, enhanced by floral notes, aromatic herbs and a cracking sea-saltiness. On the palate it’s decisive, fresh yet soft with ample persistence, a worthy companion no doubt for quite a few years to come.

The second tasting is the more evolutionary…
ZIDARICH VITOVSKA KAMEN 2015, macerated on the skins in karst stone. ‘Kamen’ means ‘Stone’.

*Luminous Straw yellow with golden and amber tones.
Intense and complex, there are citrus notes of tangerine and tropical fruit too, pastry, medicinal herbs, salt and minerals to accompany. Again the palate is immediately marked by a fresh well-balanced body-width and with a long, enduring and pleasantly aromatic finish.

The morning continues apace with countless tastings of salami, cheeses and other cellar surprises on the splendid terrace of ‘Osmiza Zidarich’, a truly special location which the winery opens to the public during select days of the year.

Naturally greetings and thanks abound.

But not before our wonderful host Benjamin proposes a tasting of his TERRANO 1998 …… Now that is most definitely opening up yet another Carso!

‘Til next we meet… raising a glass to ZIDARICH, VITOVSKA, SKYE | ROSS & of course, THE SEA

Eros Longhin


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