Dario Princic - Doyen winemaker
The village of Oslavia (Gorizia), in Friuli Venezia-Giulia (Italy), lies so close to the Slovenian border that you can see it from your house. In these hills (part of the wider Collio wine-making area) nature and winemaker operate in synergy to produce wines of great character and quality.
Revered local wine-maker Dario Prinčič is the owner of 10 hectares of vineyards, benefitting from a combination of south-eastern exposure, dry winds (keeping the plants healthy) and the ponca terroir typical of the area. The varieties he grows are friulano, ribolla gialla, chardonnay, sauvignon, pinot grigio, merlot and cabernet sauvignon. The vines are trimmed in the summer, resulting in a high-quality lower yield. For the uninitiated, this means fewer bunches, but juicier grapes.
An early adopter of biodynamic principles, in the late 80s Dario was already growing grapes using only manure as fertiliser and without the help of harmful chemicals. At the time, this way of growing grapes was far from the norm. In 1993 his winery started production, and in 1999 he started experimenting with longer maceration, testing the method on a small part of his production. The results were so encouraging that the following year he applied it to all his production.
Fast forward a couple of decades, and now Dario is the producer of some of the finest low intervention wines EVER! (This writer is a fan).
His grapes are individually checked for optimum ripeness, harvested by hand, destemmed in the winery, and then gently pressed. Maceration and the first stages of fermentation (indigenous yeast only, naturellement!!) occur spontaneously and without temperature control in open wooden vats for a period of 8 to 45 days, depending on grape variety. Fining occurs for the most part in old wooden barrels (therefore maintaining the taste unaltered), then the wine is transferred into steel tanks for further fining before it is bottled, unfiltered and unclarified (which makes his wines vegan friendly… hurray!!).
His wines are surprising, complex and sophisticated.
His winery’s output consists of 25,000 bottles per year: two reds (Merlot and Cabernet) and four whites (including three orange -Jakot, Trebes and Ribolla- and one rosé -Pinot Grigio).