In the North East of Slovenia is where you will find former police officer turned natural winemaker Božidar Zorjan. He discovered his calling in life when he and his wife inherited their vineyard from her family some 40 years ago. An avid follower of biodynamic principles he blends the influence of Styrian farmers, their wines, and cuisine in his winemaking process. His wines mature in amphorae, large clay pots, buried behind his house. Mobile phones are not allowed near the wines as not to disturb them so you will never see photographs of the amphorae and Cultisan was given the honour of stirring the wines when we visited Božidar using his handcrafted wooden paddle.
Božidar is now one of the worlds most renowned natural winemakers, his Muscat Ottonel was named the best orange (amber wine) in the world in 2020 by Decanter Magazine. His wine cellar used to be part of a Carthusian monastery from the 12th Century and now his 10-acre estate is home to sheep and deer that roam freely around the vineyards and provide Božidar with high-quality “preparations” that he then uses in his vineyards to naturally fertilise and develop his vines.
“Rdeče“ or Red is a mix of different grape varieties, mostly Zweigled and Gamay but other ancient grape varieties (found across the vineyards) are also present. The grapes are harvested by hand and the stems are removed (only in the case if the stems aren't ripe enough) the grapes are then transferred to clay amphorae which are buried beneath the ground. In the first month the fermenting process is very intense but it dals down over time. For the first month, the openings of the amphora are left open, after a month they are covered with 1/2m of soil. The wine is naturally changed by nature.
They open the amphorae around Easter when they separate the sediment and return the wine to the same amphora and are mixed with last years wine. In the first year, the fermentation is unbroken it continues into the second and stops on its own in the third year when the wine is transferred to wooden barrels where it purifies, this is more of a visual clarification this isn't filtration. What the winemaker gives to nature, nature returns it back in the wine.