Carso, Friuli

Matej Skerlj farms just two hectares of vines across a collection of tiny parcels hidden amongst the woods of the Carso. Just inland from the sparkling waters of the Adriatic on a rocky plateau some 250 metres above sea level, this is a remarkable terroir.

Vines are planted over a thin layer of terra rossa, red dirt rich in iron. In search of life, they push deep through the fossilised limestone below, resulting in wines with wonderful acidity and an often profound minerality. The plateau is cooled by a breeze from the sea and the bora, a wind that comes from mountains to the east.

Matej is young, humble and hardworking. He is inspired by this very special place and hopes to make wines that are true to it. His family have been growing grapes here for three generations and in 1965 opened up the doors of their home as an osmizza, selling their wine and the wonderful prosciutto they make from local pigs. The doors are still open today.

Vineyard work is excellent. The Skerlj’s work organically, by hand and with real integrity. This is a harsh terrain. Vines vary in age and are planted at a density of up to 10,000 per hectare, promoting competition between the plants and resulting in fruit that is compact, powerful and intense.

Grapes are handpicked, fermented on skins in tini for several weeks and aged for two years in old casks in a cantina carved right out of the rock. The limestone provides the necessary insulation for the small amount of wine the family makes each year.