Matija Žerjav a. k. a. Matic is the third generation of winemakers, and was only 24 when he took over the management of the winery. In the predominantly white wine region of Štajerska, close to the borders with Austria and Hungary, Matic cultivates 9 hectares of vineyards using organic and biodynamic methods.
In a region known for their steely fresh white wines, Matic thought to produce a single barrel each of Chardonnay and Laški Rizling. His work paid off as the wines sold out very quickly. He experimented with skin-contact wines and aging wines in clay amphora rather than the traditional steel or wood. Matic also makes a few floral, yet crisp and savory white wines. His grassy and savory Sauvignon Blanc falls on the opposite side of the spectrum from the intense citrus bombs of New Zealand.
Matic also successfully plays with local indigenous varieties: Kerner, Šipon (or Furmint) and Pinot Gris. His wines are harmonious, fresh, fruity and crispy in the mouth. The maceration is done in stainless steel tanks, after which the wine remains on the fine sediment for a while. They keep the wines in an old cellar from 1852, completely underground, so that a constant temperature can be maintained throughout the year from 50°F to 54°F.
The winemaking area in Štajerska is located in the so-called ‘mountain wine zone‘, which of course can get very cold. Harsh winter is good for the vines as it disinfects the soil. The essential factor is a sharp contrast between warm days and cool nights.
Matic explained that the more marl in the soil, the less water the vines have, causing their roots to dig deeper and deeper. There are a lot of mineral aspects to these wines – steely and salty with great acidity. No water systems are in place, as well as no fertilizers, just vines struggling in the best way, surviving in harmony with nature.
Great natural wines
Matic exclaimed: ‘We work only with what nature gives us. So, no chemicals in our wines’. He chooses to use organic, sustainable methods and native wild yeasts not because of the natural label or trend, but because he firmly and unconditionally believes this is how wine should be made.
Matic’s Šipon is a true gem of the Slovenia’s Štajerska. Coming from nearly 50-year-old vineyards this wine shows the true characteristics of the grape, with beautiful stone fruit notes at first backed by a burst of acidity that makes your mouth water and crave more. Notes of fresh orange and lemon zest dance in the back palate. Aged in steel on the fine lees, this wine has finesse and body to back it all up.
Matic follows principles of natural winemaking which are the same like when his grandfather was making the wine. His philosophy is that every wine that he makes, he can drink without any fear of a headache or anything else.