Awarded 97 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2018 edition review of Italian wines made without the use of oak (see blue link below).
Paolo Vodopivec Carso Vitovska Amphora 2011 - May 2018 Decanter review
Fasten your tastebuds – it’s going to be a scintillating ride! This is a wine that is thrilling in its richness and striking in its textural complexity. The winery is located in the small commune of Carso, where two enigmatic brothers, Paolo and Valter Vodopivec have earned an enviable international reputation for their distinctive wines.
Any discussion regarding the terroir of Carso is always more about rock than soil. Carso, in fact, is believed to mean “land of rock” in Celtic tradition. Walter and Paolo Vodopivec had to physically break up the limestone bedrock in order to be able to plant their vines. The rocky terrain leaves a firm imprint on the wine with an undeniable acidity and mineral influence.
Made from the Vitovska grape, which is a crossing between Prosecco and Malvasia Bianco, the wine is first fermented in clay amphorae that are buried underground. These amphorae come from Georgia.
We feel we should also mention the ransom story. Brothers Walter and Paolo Vodopivec had experimented with aging their wines in wooden cask and Spanish amphorae (inspired by Gravner), but they weren’t enamoured with the results. Paolo felt sure that Georgian amphorae would be superior, so off they went to Georgia to source some. However, the local mafia held the clay pots to ransom, but even though it was unclear what their demands were, the vessels were eventually freed and are now used in Friuli as fermenters.
Back to the wine. It undergoes six months of maceration in the amphora to allow the full potential of the grapes to shine through. They collect grapes from several different vineyards to give the wine all the characteristics of the area. The wine then spends 24 months aging in wood before being bottled.
Upon opening, it is intensely tannic with gripping minerality. Decant once or even twice. The result, if you’re patient, is a wine that has a purity and fascination that makes you want to roll it appreciatively around your mouth.
It is deep, rich (but not heavy) and aromatic with layers of dried peach, warm apricot and apple notes on both the nose and mid-palate. A splendid Vitovska that is as bone dry as the rocks from which the vines eke out their precarious existence, yet somehow refreshing and curiously saline with a very long finish that imparts further flavours of hazelnuts and dried fig.