Castello Di Rubbia, where the Malvasia is more than a wine

The Friluian winery experimenting with local varieties

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Nataša Černic is one of those persons in WineWorld that when you meet you instantly know they are for real. People who love what they do and have such a passion about it you are able to perceive it listening to them. I recently had a chance to meet her and taste some of her wines, but especially, a chance to listen her talking about them. And it was amazing.

Azienda Agricola Castello di Rubbia di Nataša Černic is a small winery located in Friuli, the Northeast part of Italy, close to the border with Slovenia, in the outskirts of a village named San Michele del Carso. She produces wines under two DOs: Carso-Kras and IGT Venezia Giulia. A visit to her winery is an amazing experience. Maybe you go there thinking you will find the typical building housing cellars, ageing and bottling areas and the like, but it is quite the contrary. In what once was the entrance to a gallery of WWI shelters, you see a big metal door giving way to the inner part of a hill, and when you access it, you have the feeling of being in a medieval fair: tables with artisan products, tables with cheese and prosciutto, wine bottles all around the place in boxes, pallets and steel cages. The ceiling is rock with brick arches and here you can see oak barrels, there you can see steel vats, and over there, an ancient pressing machine. Around the main room there is a corridor excavated in the rock with different paintings hanging from the walls, artifacts and more steel tanks.

She elaborates two red wines: Cabernet Sauvignon (IGT Venezia Giulia) and Terrano (Carso-Kras). Some years she also produces Rosso Della Bora (Teran and Cabernet Sauvignon in the past, Teran only after 2011, IGT Venezia Giulia). Then in the white wines department, she produces Trubar (Vitovska, Carso-Kras), Malvasia (Carso-Kras), Vitovska (Carso-Kras) and Bianco Della Bora (Vitovska, IGT Venezia Giulia). All of them single varietal wines. She trains the vineyards in the Guyot system and harvest is always done hand-picked.

Today we will talk about her Malvasia wines because this is a topic that gives a lot to talk about.

As we said, Nataša is a passionate winemaker. And she has a passion for experimenting with her wines. And experimenting she does. I was attracted to her wines after having recently tasted her Malvasia 2013, a wine whose must after harvest rests in the steel vats in contact with the skins for up to six days. The wine remains over its lees for 12 more months in steel vats and then it is bottled. It stays another 12 months there before being released. It is an incredibly smooth wine that has a lot of texture and it is amazingly full bodied in your mouth. Yet, this wine is the most “regular” or “basic” Malvasia she produces.

There you can find this 1,100-liter tank in the corridor with the Malvasia 2015 still resting inside. We tasted it and it was really good. Had Nataša weren’t around, I would have bottled up a bit to take home with me (maybe 20 or 40 liters), but I was unaware of what was coming ahead. Close by, another tank, with the same Malvasia 2015, but in this case, one experiment she was doing. Instead of the five-six days of the must in contact with the skins, the must spent two months with the skins. The result? Well, the word amazing can’t describe it well enough. Then she said she was thinking about splitting the tank content and putting half of it in oak barrels for a few months and let the rest in the tank to see what would happen. I can only dream about the experience of tasting the product of her experiment. By the way, the name she is going to put in the label of this wine is Cadenza d’Inganno, a musical term, the one she uses for her experimental wines.

By now we were on a roll. Nataša opened a bottle of Leonard 2009. Malvasia coming for vines producing only three-four bunches. A superb wine with a really smooth structure and a texture that makes you fall in love with it. The name comes after her father, who instilled in her the passion for wine. This is an incredible wine.

We hadn’t finished the tasting yet. Then we moved to the far end of the corridor where another 1,100-liter tank rested. It was another experiment Nataša was doing with the Malvasia 2011. In this case, the must stayed two years in contact with its yeasts, then resting in the tank ever since. The wine had a deep orange color and in the mouth it was delicate and at the same time amazingly potent, with a structure that you can only find in special wines. This wine will be bottled very soon and I’m sure it won’t last too long in the market as it is a wine so special it will be chased by winelovers around. It is not a wine for everybody, but those who appreciate this style of wine will sure love it. Remembering the wine now is still possible for us to taste it again. This wine will be also called Cadenza d’Inganno.

Nataša produces also a line of Vitovska white wines. We will go over this line in the future. And we will also talk to her soon about her passion for winemaking. As we mentioned, you can listen her talking for hours. Courtesy rules made us finding our way out since she was busy with some other visitors, but we could still be there sharing her passion for wines for hours.

Soon we will talk to Nataša about her wines.

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