Paolo Vodopivec works solely with Vitovska in his six hectares of vineyards. Having experimented with other varieties in the past, he believes that Vitovska is the true voice of the Carso, and—in an almost monastic dedication of purpose—he has made it his life’s mission to channel the spirit of the Carso through the vehicle of its local variety. He also works entirely organically, and—although it is an historic practice—he rejects the transportation of topsoil, working only with vineyards that have a naturally occurring layer of soil, no matter how thin or poor. Furthermore, he employs incredibly dense plantings (10,000 plants per hectare), and never irrigates his soil.
Paolo works with an incredibly labor-intensive, fully manual basket press in the cellar, and employs extended skin contact during fermentation, which always happens naturally. An early disciple of Gravner, Vodopivec’s wines used to be more marked by tannin, deeper in color, and more ruggedly structured. Today, however, his wines are far more transparent, ethereal, and harmonious, with the tannins playing a background role in the service of greater textural profundity. Vodopivec employs large Slavonian casks for aging—but, importantly, Paolo is a steadfast devotee of the buried Georgian amphora as a fermentation vessel. With the exception of the “Origine,” all of his wines spend at least twelve months in these massive subterranean amphorae. Paolo rejects stainless steel entirely (there is none in his cellar), and feels that oak causes too quick and violent of a fermentation. Never one to rush, he gives the wines three years of barrel aging, plus another full year in bottle, before releasing them into the market.