FRIULI - ITALY
“Skerk exemplifies the magical, quiet presence of the region. His wines and personality both showcase a steady persistence, carried on fine frame, with elegant aromatics, and savoury delicate palate… It is hard to describe the stimulation and life found in a glass of Skerk wine — they are simultaneously clean, and unexpected; at once pretty and yet carrying notes of meat; the palate persists through delicate frame full of sapidity and Italian ‘salato'. These are wines designed to showcase tradition and elegance both.” - Elaine Chukan Brown
Sandi Skerk's property is only 500m from the border of Slovenia in the Carso appellation of Friuli in the far North Eastern corner of Italy. Tasted out of context it is difficult to know what to make of the wines. However, upon meeting Sandi, seeing his vineyards, his cellar, and listening to his winemaking philosophy, it becomes entirely clear how special the wines are and what Sandi is trying to achieve by making them.
Like many in the Carso, their production is very small, totally natural and involves skin contact with indigenous white varieties. Friuli is a veritable feast of natural, artisan wine production where orange wines are the norm and wild yeasts used without question. Sandi produces some of the regions best; delicious textural wines with great personality, plenty of depth and friendly richness which makes them more approachable than some of the wines of his contemporaries.
Skerk remains organically certified, as he has been for nearly 15 years, but still refuses to mention it on the bottle due to his dissatisfaction with the weak standards allowed by the certifying bodies.
His entire process is natural, not because it is the trendy thing to do, but because it does not make sense to Sandi to make wine any other way. When asked about the style of winemaking that seems to be the trend in the Carso DOC, ie. long skin contact for the whites, Sandi talks about the great respect he has for his grandfather, who also made wine on the family's property, and about wanting to follow his technique. Making wine before it was common to use SO2 as a preservative, Sandi's grandfather used the technique of extended skin contact for his white wines. The tannins in the skins protect the wines from oxidation, allowing Sandi to use very little SO2 in his winemaking. Making wine naturally requires great care in the vineyards and the winery. Sandi is one of the great winemakers making natural wine well; his wines show impressive clarity, balance, and depth on the palate.
Skerk Vitovska 2015
Ian D’Agata, vinous.com - “Medium dark golden-tinged yellow. Apple cider and chamomile complicate ripe apricot, orange zest and botanical herbs on the nose. Enters fresh and linear, then becomes more complex with a savory edge to the herbal and citrus peel flavors. Finishes long with hints of quinine and wet stone. Only 11.5% alcohol and plenty of flavor.”
Skerk Terrano 2015
Monica Larner - "A pure expression of the local Terrano grape. Representing its own unique set of aromas, the bouquet is equally fascinating and wild. This offbeat wine charms the senses with wild berry, rose and an ample supply of freshly milled white pepper. Your nose almost twitches in reaction to those pure pepper smells. I love it. This is precisely the wine I'd want to reach for when looking for new and exciting tastes. The mouthfeel is lean, tight and acidic, but you have enough fiber here to pair with homemade fried chicken."
Ian D’Agata, vinous.com - “Bright purple-ruby. Perfumed aromas and flavors of candied blackberry, blueberry syrup but also a floral reminders of rose and violet. Very clean and fresh with long laser-like acidity and a bright fruitiness.”