Old Cellars in Negotinska Krajna



Uncovering Paul Balke’s White Wine


I’ve learned that the Dutch Musician Paul Balke, apart from his Piemonte Rosso, had also made a white wine, when I visited the Slovenian winery Sibav (Goriska Brda) last May.

The complex of marnous hills North of Gorizia (or Gorica) is called Collio in Italy, Goriska Brda in Slovenia, but the geological and climate conditions are the same.

The main feature there is “PONCA”, in Friulian, “OPOKA”, in Slovenian, a friable sedimentary rock, wich allows the roots to develop vertically and assures a good drainage of rain water

(picture taken at Marjan Simcic’s winery)

From this photo you can see the Opoka as a solid rock underground

(from a Fiegl’s vineyard in Oslavia)

From this photo, shot in Italy, by a hundred meters or so, you can see the Opoka on the surface: exposed to rain it becomes like an easy to work farmland.

As for the climate: it is Mediterranean, in fact olive oil is produced in Brda, but exposed to cold winds (“buran” in Slovenian, “bora” in Italian).

In 2015, Paul Balke agreed with Mr. Sibav on making a white, original for its blend, but very representative of Brda characters

The wine which resulted is made in greater proportion of Sauvignonasse (Friulano in Italy), then Rebula, a 15% of Pinot Blanc, a 5% Pinot Gris.

A part from four hours of skin-contact for the Rebula, it’s a conventionally vinified white. Immediately gentle, fruity notes in the nose, mostly golden apple, great complexity on palate, here you can feel a touch of quince, very good structure, salty minerality, a very long finish. The acidity is good which is consistent with the presence of Rebula.

These impressions I got last May at the winery, were confirmed 8 months later when I met Paul an evening in Alba, together with Dimitri, a Russian colleague.

Now two news, both good: this wine is still available on the market, the second good news is that there will be a following edition.

On Paul Balke’s wine philosophy:



Now the thanks:

To Paul, for the wine and for the fascinating conversation.

To Mr. Sibav, he makes awesome wines.

To Mrs. Valerija Simcic for being such a kind host when I visited Marjan Simcic’s winery

To Mr. Matej Fiegl, also for his hospitality. I used to be in contact with his father Rinaldo and his uncle Alessio when I made an attempt (failed) to introduce their wines to the Finnish Market. Good to see the offsprings following the good example!

Til the next time

yours Gian Luca Garattoni