Explore natural winemaking in the Collio (Friuli)
Draga is a small boutique winery located on the border between Italy and Slovenia, in the hills of north Gorizia in Italy’s Friuli–Venezia Giulia region.
In the Slovenian language Draga means “precious” and for three generations the Miklus family has cared for their precious land, tending to nine hectares of vineyards with great love and passion.
The terrain of the Draga vineyard is ideal for viticulture, with soils full of clay and stone - locally called "ponca".
Draga’s vineyards are caressed and cooled by the 'Bora' - a strong wind from the east, which dries the grapes thus keeping them healthy.
The combination of steep hills plus clayey and rocky soil, with constant ventilation, makes for great harvests. The vineyard follows the traditions of manual grape picking.
Milan, the founder of this winery, has always worked with traditional methods to produce wines that showcase the natural elegance of the grapes, soil and climate.
His father Franz often said: "if you respect the nature and the land, they will never betray you."
Today, thanks to his children Mitja and Denis, the Draga winery continues to amaze fans and lure new enthusiasts, offering wines that are elegant, deep and austere, just like the territory from which they originate.
Ease into the wines of Draga with a classic white like SAUVIGNON 2018 with typical aromas for this popular grape variety (passionfruit, papaya and gooseberry; some blackcurrant leaf).
Pinot Grigio ... but not as you know it!
Unlike the better known PG wines of Veneto, which tend to be very pale, simple and neutral, the two from Draga are rich and deeply coloured.
The 'standard' PINOT GRIGIO 2018 is a beautiful rose gold colour with soft floral notes with hints of peach, apricot and almond. For the 'orange' version, scroll down to get the details! :)
* An Unusual White Wine *
For something unusual, try the JAKOT MIKLUS, which is made from 60 year-old Friulano* vines.
This is a skin-contact white wine, so extended maceration on the skins. It is also non-filtered, resulting in the unusual cloudy colour. It has a very distinctive nose (familiar if you're used to drinking natural wine) with hints of orange blossom and almonds, plus some herbal notes. Fresh, tingling acidity and a long finish. Pair with 'umami' dishes like sushi.
* Friulano can be found under its pseudonym Sauvignonasse, or sometimes Sauvignon Vert (not the same as the California vine, which is actually a Muscadelle). It was also mistaken for Sauvignon Blanc in Chile.
Read to move on from white (and unusual white) wines?
Try a wine from the MIKLUS range - the 'Natural Art' series - which are classic 'orange wines'.
Winery notes for the 'Natural Art' series:
Wines without herbicides, low sulphite content, low environmental impact.
* No use of herbicide * Organic agriculture * Working with MOON phases * Spontaneous fermentations * No control of temperature, unclarified, unfiltered * Minimum sulphite content * Fermentations/aging in wooden barrels *
If you prefer a fruitier style go for the Malvasia, or for a more savoury edge try Ribolla Gialla. And comparing the 2014 to the 2015 vintages of RG you'll find more herbal character on the 2014 or richer floral notes on the 2015. Why not try them all?
Pinot Grigio ... the MIKLUS one!
Despite a relatively 'light' mouthfeel compared to the Malvasia and RG orange wines, this PINOT GIRGIO MIKLUS 2017 is a much richer colour. It could easily be mistaken for a light red wine at first glance. In fact, it could be a nice 'starter' orange wine for fans of light reds. The nose will give it away as a natural wine and the classic 'orange' notes are there, but you could certainly try this out with some typical Pinot Noir/Nero pairings like duck pancakes!
For more on ORANGE wine .... keep reading further down this page!
End your exploration of DRAGA wines with a red Friuli blend.
NEGRO DI COLLINA is part of the Miklus collection, so a wine made "without herbicides, low sulphite content, low environmental impact".
This red is a complex wine (with notes of berries, cherry jam, raspberry, chocolate) and yet it manages to be a very approachable blend. Decant for 15-30 minutes and keep swirling in your glass, to let those aromas develop. Pairs beautifully with BBQ meat.
So ... lots of wines by Draga to explore!
As always, if you need helping deciding where to start, please do contact me for personal recommendations and advice.
Have you tried an aged white wine?
How about a white wine made with extended skin contact (long maceration on the skins), sometimes loosely called a 'skin contact white'?
Where do you go next?
To a full blown ORANGE WINE of course...
The name ‘orange wine’ refers to the colour of the wine.
It's sometimes called AMBER wine.
These deeply coloured wines are created by keeping the SKINS and SEEDS of the white grape in contact with the JUICE during the fermentation process – the same way red wine develops its tannins and colour from contact with red grape skins.
The process is actually a very traditional form of winemaking and vineyards boasting centuries of winemaking history, like Georgia, have continued to make their wine the same way as their forefathers - using this skin maceration to extract colour, tannins and extra aromas/flavours.
You can expect an array of interesting aromas and flavours from orange wine, such as honey, nuts and dried fruit, perhaps even some fruit cake notes, plus lots of floral elements that depend on the grape variety used in the wine.
As always, if you're not sure where to start do get in touch for personal recommendations! You never know if your new favourite wine style could be waiting in the next bottle you buy! :)