Zidarich

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 Following his father, Benjamin began in 1988 with just one hectare and has since grown his holdings to eight hectares, all of which he farms without the use of chemicals. He employs both Guyot and Albarello trellising, severely limiting the number of buds per branch in order to maximize each vine’s intensity of expression. The vines grow in the classic iron- and calcium-rich red soils of the area, extending deep into the limestone that looms just below the surface. Benjamin works primarily with Vitovska, the classic local variety of the Carso, but he also has plantings of Malvasia and Sauvignon—as well as small amounts of Teran (another local variety) and Merlot for his reds. Harvest is done entirely by hand, and Zidarich’s modest yields typically hover around 30 hectoliters per hectare.

In the cellar, Benjamin uses an old basket press, and—like others in the region that have re-embraced ancient, more natural methods—he keeps his white wines in contact with their skins for a few weeks during fermentation (which always occurs spontaneously). However, in comparison to the bold, unabashedly tannic, deeply copper-colored wines of someone like Gravner, the skin-contact influence in Zidarich’s wines is remarkably subtle—their color remains relatively brilliant and vibrant, and the gentle tannins weave so tightly and seamlessly around the wines’ pungent, clinging minerality as to be almost undetectable. These are first and foremost wines of minerality, not wines of skin tannins. Aging takes place in Slavonian barrels of varying sizes, and the employment of skin contact allows Benjamin to use the barest minimum of added sulfur. The wines are bottled without fining or filtration, typically two years after the vintage, and allowed to rest for a spell before being put up for sale.

Running through all of Zidarich’s wines is a driving, dancing, powerful yet balletic minerality—an essence of pure stone. Even in those wines made from more assertive and aromatic varieties like Malvasia and Sauvignon, it is the limestone that takes center stage. They combine invigorating liveliness and profound, contemplative mineral heft like few other wines on Earth, capturing both the gleaming sunshine of his high-altitude vineyards and the cool depth of his cellar. Benjamin is quick to open older bottles—a testament to his confidence as well as his generosity—and it is frankly astonishing to see how well his wines develop with age. We invite you to take this dive into the Carso with us, and we hope that you will get on board with the minute quantities of the wines below, as they are truly among the most exciting testaments of terroir we have encountered in quite some time.

 

Vitovska Aged for two years in large Slavonian casks, the Vitovska is a seamless and deeply stony wine. Its fruit character veers toward apricot and peach, yet in a subtle way—the limestone is doing the heavy lifting here, with the Vitovska serving as a mere vessel for the unfettered expression of rock. The wine finishes clean and long, with a sensation of almost mentholated coolness ringing on the palate long after swallowing. Whatever subtle tannins are present are melded beautifully with the palate-staining minerality, and the overall impression is one of freshness, complexity, and drive. A bold, uplifting, utterly delicious wine.
Vitovska “Collezione”: In certain exceptional vintages, Benjamin vinifies his oldest vines of Vitovska separately, aging them for longer in cask and holding them in bottle before release. In keeping with its age, the 2009 “Collezione” is a bit less immediately forward and exuberant than the above, yet it expresses even more viscerally the stony power of its underlying terroir. Gentle in character yet extremely concentrated, all of its elements hang together just-so, and the broad, long palate features a fascinating interplay of chamomile, cinnamon, and menthol. It is a testament to Benjamin’s patience and pride—his dedication to revealing all the dimensions of this great and relatively unknown viticultural area—that he is just now releasing the 2009 version of this wine, and we are fortunate to have access to a mere 16 six-packs for the US market.
Malvasia: The  Malvasia is the more gregarious, talkative, eager younger brother to the more inward and contemplative Vitovska, yet both express the powerfully stony essence of the Carso in their own delicious way. The 2014 presents notes of crunchy mango, white pepper, and lemon verbena, with a subtle honey undertone emerging on the driving, mineral-drenched finish. A 2006 version of this wine offered amazing depth and freshness, proving that its relative youthful exuberance does not preclude an equally impressive age-ability.
2014 Teran: This indigenous red grape variety has existed in the Carso since Roman times, and it is an addictively delicious, vibrant, exuberant, and light-on-its-feet counterpart to the strikingly mineral white wines of the area. Benjamin explained that Teran has the most anthocyanins of any red grape variety in the world, and its alcohol levels rarely broach 12%. There is a certain Barbera-like quality to the crunchy, earth-tinged red fruits and the bright, appetizing acid profile, yet there is more finesse and purity . Fresh herbs and red licorice on the palate add complexity, and the concentration and energy of this wine is surprising given its exceedingly modest alcohol level. Aged entirely in large Slavonian botti.
2010 “Ruje”: Merlot has a long history in this part of Friuli, and the variety can take on an incredibly distinctive, satisfying character in the right hands—tasting nothing like its distant cousins in the Medoc, nor like any of the multitude of more varietally marked New World iterations. Zidarich’s “Ruje” combines 80% Merlot and 20% Teran, and it is aged for four years in a combination of large botti and smaller barrels (all of which are well-used)—then for another two full years before it hits the market.  The 2010 was fascinating, with an intoxicating nose of savory spice, dried tobacco, dark fruits, and smoke. The still-energetic palate is supple and long, with a coiled mineral presence that rears its head from beneath the web of secondary complexity. As evidenced by a vertical Benjamin opened for us, this wine can go far longer in bottle as well.
2009 “Ruje”: The 2009 “Ruje” was deeper and darker in its fruit character than the 2010, revealing more structure on the palate, as well as a far more pronounced savory streak. It is perhaps a shade less elegant than the 2010, but chewier and more gutsy—an equally fascinating wine.
Zidarch Vitovska “Kamen”: This special bottling was conceived by Benjamin Zidarich to reinforce the bond between his unique terroir in the Carso and the elevage in his cellar. Zidarich whole-heartedly believes in the profound effect of the irreplaceable limestone rock that gives birth to the singular expression of Vitovska. The “Kamen” is fermented and macerated for roughly 18 days in specially built stone vats made from the very rock that lies beneath his vineyards. After fermentation, the wine is moved to oak barrels for two years of aging. Broader on the palate, with a deeper mineral expression, this limited bottling truly expresses the deep potential of Vitovska.
Download Zidarich tech sheet
Domaine NameAzienda Agricola Zidarich
Family/Owners NameZidarich
How many years has the family owned the domaine?Zidarich is a family-run business established in 1988 by Benjamin Zidarich. We have been winemakers since 1800.
How many generations?Benjamin Zidarich is the first generation.
How many hectares of vines are leased?7
How many hectares of vines are owned?1
Are your vineyards or wines Organic or Biodynamic Certified? With the 2018 harvest, we will complete the conversion of our vineyards, so our grapes will be 100% certified biodynamic.
Describe your vineyard management practices (e.g. low-intervention, organic, biodynamic, standard, etc.).Biodynamic intervention. Grapes are harvested by hand using small crates. We generally don't practice green harvesting, except when the yield is higher than usual. Leaf thinning: yes. Fertilization with cow manure.
Usually, do you buy or sell the grapes? Please kindly reply accuratelyWe only use our own grapes.
Do you sell the wine made by you in bulk?Very little and only when we open periodically as a tavern, where we sell our wine en vrac.
VINO #1
GENERAL INFORMATION
AppellationI.G.T. Venezia Giulia
Cepage/Uvaggio100% Vitovska
% Alcohol by volume0.12
# of bottles produced10000
Grams of Residual Sugar0
VINEYARD AND GROWING INFORMATION
Exposures and slope of vineyardsSoutheast
Soil Types(s)Limestone, red Karstic soil
Average vine age (per vineyard)From 6 to 30
Average Vine Density (vines/HA)8,000 to 10,000
Approximate harvest date(s)Mid-September - early October
WINEMAKING/CELLAR INFORMATION
whole cluster, % destemmed, %100% destemmed
Fermentation: vessel type and sizeMaceration in 30-hectoliter wooden vats.
Duration of contact with lees2 weeks
Select or indigenous yeast?Select and indigenous yeast
Please describe wine making process for EACH wine such as: pump-overs, punch-downs, racking, movement/transfer of wine done by gravity or pumping?), battonnage, malolactic fermentation allowed,.After fermentation and maceration on the skins, the wine is pumped into barrels using a peristaltic pump, while the solid part is pressed with a press (we do not have an air press). After 48 hours, the wine is clarified and then transferred into oak barrels. Elevage lasts two years ad then the wine is bottled. Generally, malolactic and alcoholic fermentation occur at the same time. No sugar added.
Elevage: vessel type(s) and size(s)Wine ages in oak barrels with the following capacity: 5, 8, 10, 15, 20, 30 hectoliters.
Duration of elevage2 years in barrels, at least 4 months in bottles.
Duration of bottle ageing before release to US marketAt least 4 months
Do you practice fining and filtration? No
Are sulphites added? If so, at what point in the vinification or in the inveccha- ment / bottling? How many milligrams of sulfites per liter remain in the product finale?We only use a very small quantity of sulphites before maceration and bottling. Generally, it is 60 milligrams per liter.
VINO #2Malvasia 2015
GENERAL INFORMATION
AppellationI.G.T. Venezia Giulia
Cepage/Uvaggio100% Malvasia
% Alcohol by volume12,5%
# of bottles produced5000
VINEYARD AND GROWING INFORMATION
Exposures and slope of vineyardsSoutheast
Soil Types(s)Limestone, red Karstic soil
Average vine age (per vineyard)From 6 to 30 years old
Average Vine Density (vines/HA)7,000-10,000
Approximate harvest date(s)Mid-September-early October
WINEMAKING/CELLAR INFORMATION
whole cluster, % destemmed, %100% destemmed
Fermentation: vessel type and sizeMaceration in 30-hectoliter wooden vats.
Duration of contact with lees2 weeks
Select or indigenous yeast?Select/indigenous yeast
Please describe wine making process for EACH wine such as: pump-overs, punch-downs, racking, movement/transfer of wine done by gravity or pumping?), battonnage, malolactic fermentation allowed,.After fermentation and maceration on the skins, the wine is pumped into barrels using a peristaltic pump, while the solid part is pressed with a press (we do not have an air press). After 48 hours, the wine is clarified and then transferred into oak barrels. Elevage lasts two years ad then the wine is bottled. Generally, malolactic and alcoholic fermentation occur at the same time. No sugar added.
Elevage: vessel type(s) and size(s)Wine ages in oak barrels with the following capacity: 5, 8, 10, 15, 20, 30 hectoliters.
Duration of elevage2 years in barrels, at least 4 months in bottles.
Duration of bottle ageing before release to US marketAt least 4 months
Do you practice fining and filtration? No
Are sulphites added? If so, at what point in the vinification or in the inveccha- ment / bottling? How many milligrams of sulfites per liter remain in the product finale?We only use a very small quantity of sulphites before maceration and bottling. Generally, it is 60 milligrams per liter.

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