Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Zidarich for a chilly day
This post takes us to Slovenia, by way of Greenwich Village.
A winter weekend lunch in a now chilled Manhattan, wind finding its icicle way up cuffs and sleeves, and a revolving door pushed around to a warm interior. Warm walls, warm colors. Reds, oranges. The smell of garlic and flatbread.
What to order from a list so long, in such tiny print it makes one think of miniatures and meticulous manuscripts? Italy sprawled out, not only geographically, but in the hills and gullies of winemaking styles. A Super-Tuscan? A carbonic natural wine? Something aged in anfora? A spit-clean Brunello? Something luscious from Paolo Bea? Well, not with the bottarga, please.
Sitting on the left side of the page was a small series of words that drew my eye: three or four in a row, lines ending in "Vitovska."
Having spent most of my wine-drinking life within the pleasantly diverse confines of the Gallic hexagon, I still get a thrill from forays into the beyond. Oh! A Ridge Zinfandel! A Nikolaihof Grüner Veltliner! Dry furmint from Hungary!
Vitovska is still a grape that looks like a vista I will not know. A sea of crisp, floral newness.
So a bottle of 2007 Zidarich Prulke was ordered. It's not actually a vitovska, just most of it. (It's got malvasia and sauvignon blanc in the mix.)
The wine was poured and, though still on its first breath of air and a bit of a refrigerated chill, it showed the skin-contact tannins and spicy appeal of its style. It was taut in the glass, with a lighter color than I had expected, a kind of orange iridescence.
Over the next hour, it went places. Places I wanted to go along with it. It opened into something of increasing textural complexity, with spicy and floral playing together in an offhanded and compelling way. The wine was also exceptionally pure.
Pure is not usually a qualifier that comes to mind when describing the so-called "orange" (skin-contact white) wines. More often, such as Movia's Lunar or Radikon's Jakot, they're a bit cloudy, and their appeal stems from their bold contradictions and intemperately prepossessed oddity rather than from any sense of fineness, chisel or purity.
Yet here it was in my glass, a chiseled thing. A chiseled orange thing.