Paraschos Not Vol. 1 Skin Contact Pinot Grigio
Regular price $39.00
Winemakers: Alexis and Jannis Paraschos and their father Evangelos
Appellation: San Floriano del Collio / Števerjan, in the Gorizia / Goriška Brda region on the border of Slovenia and Italy
Grape Varieties: Pinot Grigio
Vinification Method: Grapes are hand-harvested, destemmed, and macerated in open-topped wooden vats for 8 days without refrigeration. Hand punch-downs are performed about 4-5 times per day. The skins are pressed to stainless steel tanks for about 4 days at cellar temperature. Then the wine is racked, with the fine lees, and transferred to 2500-liter oak barrels for elevage.
Located on the border of Slovenia and Italy, the hilly microregion of Collio Goriziano / Goriška Brda offers an unfair share of everything a wine lover could ask for: the hustle and Vienna-like flair of the proud port city of Trieste lies just an hour drive away, as do the Alps and beaches. Being a historically busy intersection of the Balkans, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Italy means that great eating spots abound in the area (including a Michelin-star restaurant that allegedly inspired Ana Roš of Hiša Franko to become a chef, too). And most of all, it really touches one’s heart to look at all the natural beauty around. The family’s agriturismo, located just above the cellar, overlooks lush vine-covered slopes and valleys and makes you sympathize with the rich merchants of the Habsburg empire who made Gorizia their favorite holiday spot.
The tumultuous course of history left a strong mark on the area’s viticulture, too, as Alexis explains to us when we wonder about the prevalence of Merlot in the area. Far from being recently imported, it was actually introduced during a brief episode of French reign during the Napoleonic era at the beginning of the 19th century. “And since the growers had good experience with this grape, they opted for it when replantation was needed after the ravages of WWI, in 1918 and beyond.” History explained in wine—yes, please!
Although the Paraschos winery started in the 1990s when Alexis’ father Evangelos became inspired by neighboring Gravner wines that he liked to serve in the family restaurant, the family actually has the luck to own some vines that hail almost a century back, on both sides of the border. The oldest Merlot plants from these vines give birth to Skala (meaning “rock” in reference to the poor gravel subsoil), the winery’s top red. Naturally low yields bring about a deep, focused wine with endless layers of fruits, stones, and fresh earth. “That’s the character given by old vines,” Alexis nods, “past 50 years of age, something beautiful happens to Merlot, and it starts to give these noble notes of truffle and humus.”
But the region—and estate—is probably best known for their whites, or rather oranges, as the winemaking tradition in the area consists of skin contact wines from the locally typical Ribolla Gialla, Malvasia Istriana, and Friulano (fka Tokai until the famous Hungarian namesake area said no). Alexis Paraschos uses the maceration rather lightly, aiming at harmony between freshness, tannins, body, and the seductive drinkability of these wines proves him right. Especially the Orange One, a blend of all three varietals that came about from Alexis’ historical research: “Traditionally, the wines here were blends or even field-blends, with the practical reason of getting a naturally balanced wine even when one of the varietals had a weaker year. Take Ribolla, for example—it needs a big vintage and good exposure to create great wine, so we only make pure Ribolla in these years. But it’s also the best way to fight the unnatural idea that wine equals monoculture.”
Indeed, monoculture is not something you’ll experience in the lush Paraschos vineyards; since the beginning, the winery has been synonymous with extreme respect for the environment (and the consumer). No herbicides, no pesticides, the only fertilizer used is organic manure, and the rows are covered with grass and plowed only in winter if necessary. No wonder the vines look so happy and healthy despite their significant age, we say, complimenting Alexis. “We couldn’t do it otherwise,” he shrugs, “You can have an occasional bad vintage when working this way. But you still have your healthy soil and living vineyard. And that’s what matters the most.”