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Jean Michel Morel

Jean Michel was born in October 1966 in Antony, a part of Paris. His homeland marked significantly his life and his profession.
He grew up in the multicultural part of Paris and he spent the summers working near Bordeaux, where he encountered his greatest passion – the art of wine making. He gained knowledge, experience and discovered the secrets of viticulture in various French wine regions and cellars. Let us list only some of them: Chateau De Jau Rivesaltes near Perpignan in the south of France, the homestead of Michel Laroch near Languedoc Ruslon and the homestead of Domaine Bordenave Longon near Bordeaux, where he excelled as the main cellarman.
He continued his professional life working in the wine cellar Borgo Conventi in neighbouring Friuli, where he worked as the main cellarman for many years. His marriage to Katja Kabaj in 1989 finally made him settle down at the Kabaj homestead in Šlovrenc in Goriška Brda.
 
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 Jean Michel Morel's wines

The 1993 vintage was the first vintage at the Kabaj homestead under his guidance. Jean Michel is particularly proud of his wine produced by the traditional Georgian method of wine storage in kvevris (amphoras).The white Cuvee, produced by this method, was first introduced on the market in 2008.
Jean Michel Morel is also a member of Xeloba Kartuli association (www.kvevri.org), which unites 25 wine producers who use the kvevri wine method. They share the interest of following the roots of Georgian wine making, trying to transfer this ancient tradition into modern viticulture.
"Soil structure and the climate in Slovenia are different from those in Italy and France, where I used to work. The magic of wine making is in fact to take advantage of this diversity, combining it with one's intuition in order to create wine which satisfies the wine maker himself."
 
 Amfora
The wine is crystalline with an intensive yellow colour and shades of amber. It's dense and it leaves viscous streaks on the edge of a glass. Its bouquet is intense and refined. The first nose is honeyed, later its fruity aroma of orange peel and dried apple slices prevails, combined with hints of pepper spiciness . The sensation of fruitiness and honeyed taste persist in the mouth. The finish is intense and long, mineral and fresh. A very complex wine. In combination with food it breaks down all the stereotypes : it matches perfectly with a fawn fillet.
 
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Wine amphora is not a craze

Wine stored in amphoras is not a craze, but a tradition with a history of 8 thousand years. It originates in Giorgia, the cradle of viticulture. The historians established that were actually the Georgians the first to start producing wine, the tradition that was later taken by the Ancient Greeks .

 

Wine production of Amfora

The selection of grapes starts in the vineyard - at a selected site and is chosen among the grape varieties, typical of our wine region : Ribolla, Malvasia, Sauvignon Vert ( Tokai), using only healthy grapes at the peak of their ripeness. The grapes are destemmed in quevris – clay pots and are macerated after being fermented in their own yeast. During the first month the grapes are stirred manually - up to six times a day. The pots then remain closed for the next ten months. After this period the wine is poured into large oak barrels, where it is left to age for additional 12 months.

 

The KABAJ Vineyards

The Kabaj family cultivates 12 ha of vineyards, at two sites in Brda (Šlovrenc, Belo), with the plantation of 55.000 grapevines. A major part, up to 70%, is white , dominated by Ribolla Gialla and Tokai Friulano (Sauvignonasse), two autochthonous grapevines . Their white grapevine varieties also include Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon and Malvasia. Their red grapevine varieties are dominated by Merlot and they include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot as well. Average vine age is 30 years; vines are planted on terraced slopes. Vine training is single Guyot. They practice sustainable wine production - vines are fertilized with barn horse manure and are grassed. Average grape yield is 1,5 kg / vine.
 

The KABAJ Wine cellar

Wine production takes place in a modern wine cellar, built a few years ago. It has three parts: a traditional part with large oak barrels and steel vessels for vinification and typisation of wine; an arched cellar with a water source, constant temperature and humidity for French "barrique" barrels; and a less typical cellar, where nine 3500 - liter clay vessels (kvevris), made of Georgian clay in the Georgian village Imereti, are buried in the ground.

 

Wine production in the KABAJ Wine cellar

60.000 to 70.000 bottles of wine are produced annually. All types of wine age in French barrels for at least a year, followed by a few months ageing in bottles. Jean Michel Morel macerates white wines for at least one day, except for Rebula, "The white queen of Brda ", which undergoes the process of maceration for approximately 30 days. In this way it acquires its fruity structure (especially its typical bouquet and grape flavour), minerality and its characteristic golden colour. Ribolla, maturing in the bottle over the years becomes stable and velvety. Ribolla in the wine Amfora represents most thoroughly and efficiently the image of the Kabaj homestead, their consideration of wine and their respectful attitude towards the art of wine making, with regard to historical and natural resources.

 

The culinary offer at the KABAJ homestead

Where now there is the facility (above the main cellar), there used to be a village inn, where people used to drink homemade wine, offer tobacco and salt. Sometimes they played boule in front of the inn.
 

Traditional Brda cuisine offer

Mild climate and the landscape have had significant influence on the cuisine of Goriška Brda. The variety of traditions (Slovene, Friulian, Habsburg) have intertwined on this strip of land, giving »Brda« cuisine its special touch. The recipes, carefully written down by our grandmothers and treasured with jealousy in their cookery books, will impress even the most demanding gourmet. Good Brda wine makes food become a complete culinary delight, appreciated for a long time. At the Kabaj Morel homestead we used the old recipes, giving rich Brda cuisine a touch of Mediterranean, a touch of creativity.
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Photo by Nina Travels