Giocato

Primorska - Slovenia

The Winery

Aleks Simčič, of the Edi Simčič estate in Slovenia, is considered by many to be one of the finest winemakers in Eastern Europe. Located just meters over the Italian border and next door to Colli Orientali in Friuli, Simčič lives in Goriška Brda, a lush, subalpine zone that actually belonged to Italy until the end of World War II. It also happens to be one of the region’s best areas, perhaps THE best area, to grow white varietals. Long-aging, intense, and sophisticated, his single estate wines now rival the best of France. In addition, Aleks also works with a handful of growers at the local co-op to make a series of affordables. When we challenged him, “can you make a fantastic, expressive, mineral-driven white for under $15 retail?” his answer was Giocato, a terrific wine that raises the bar on inexpensive Pinot Grigio. Low yields lend it great viscosity, and the palate offers a perfect balance of tropical fruit and acidity. As with the high-end wines of Edi Simčič, everything Aleks touches, it would seem, turns to gold.

As his own estate is too small (just 12 hectares) to produce Giocato on its own, Aleks makes the wines in conjunction with the organic co-op, Vinska Klet. Established in 1957, this collective of small, independent farmers is wholly devoted to organic farming - including dry farming – and maintains a philosophy close to his own. Working with a small number of growers with whom he has long-standing relationships, Aleks is able to choose the best hand-picked grapes that his neighbors have to offer. While they’re sourced from a number of sites in and around the village of Vipolže, the average vine age remains 20-30 years and the average altitude 180 meters, so the price-to-quality ratio remains lofty. As with next-door Friuli, the main soil type is ponca, a carbonate-driven clay full of salts and minerals that lends structure and poise to unoaked whites. Yields for the Giocato series are also remarkably low, at just under 1 bottle per plant!

Enologist
Aleks Simcic
Grapes Grown by Winery
Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Grigio, Rebula, Sauvignon Blanc
Vineyard Size
100.0 ha
Winemaker
Aleks Simcic
Winemaker Biography
While the family’s farm in western Slovenia is too tiny to produce his popular Giocato line, Aleks Simcic works with a handful of organic growers in and around his village to create his affordable masterpieces. Here, Aleks applies the same lofty standards as he does with the single estate wines of Edi Simčič.
Winemaker Generation
1st
AdriaticSea Austria Italy Hungary Croatia Bosnia &Herzegovina Nova Gorica Koper Slovenia Nova Gorica Koper

GIO Chardonnay

Slovenian winemaker Aleks Simčič (of Edi Simčič) is a recognized master of Chardonnay. While his family’s more expensive, single estate wines are some of the best in Europe, GIO offers an opportunity to enjoy an affordable made with the same, exacting standard. With 1/3 of the juice aged on the lees and in the barrel, the wine has a crisp, Old World style with a touch of lush, viscous body. Notes of green apple, lime, and baked pear make for a delightful weave, designed to satisfy those desiring a "new generation" Chardonnay.

Color
Yellow with gold reflections
Nose
Citrus, ripe peaches, melon, butter, vanilla, hazelnuts, and bread crust
Palate
Rich, but fresh and crisp. Elegant texture, with marked minerality.
Finish
Velvety, medium+ finish
Vineyard Location
Goriska Brda, Primorska
Vineyard Size
3 ha
Varietals List
100% Chardonnay
Farming Practices
Organically farmed (non-certified) including dry-farmed; grapes picked by hand
Elevation
180 m
Soils
Marl and sandstone
Maturation Summary
In French oak barrels for 8 months and bottled for 1 month
Alcohol
13.5 %
Acidity
5 g/liter
Residual Sugar
2.5 g/liter
Annual Production
5,000 bottles

Jongleur Sparkling Brut

Winemaker Aleks Simčič is a master of white varietals, and a passionate connoisseur of grower Champagne. Here, he puts his Midas touch on a taut, sparkling Brut made from the indigenous Rebula (Ribolla Gialla) grape. Floral, slightly honied, and with intense meyer lemon aromas, it has persistent bubbles, plenty of backbone and a pleasing earthiness. From Goriška Brda, the white wine Mecca of western Slovenia, just meters over on the Italian border from Collio in Friuli.

Color
Lemon yellow
Nose
Reserved at first, then leans into green apple and citrus
Palate
Intense, vivid, and fresh, with persistent perlage
Finish
Lingering tannins, medium+ finish
Vineyard Location
Goriska Brda, Primorska
Vineyard Size
5 ha
Varietals List
100% Rebula
Farming Practices
Organically farmed (non-certified) including dry-farmed; grapes picked by hand
Elevation
120 m
Soils
Sandstone and marl
Maturation Summary
In Steel for 3 months and Bottled for 5 months
In Steel
3 months
Alcohol
12.0 %
Acidity
6.4 g/liter
Residual Sugar
11 g/liter
Annual Production
120,000 bottles

Pinot Grigio

Made by cult-winemaker Aleks Simčič, this Pinot Grigio would cost 40% more if made just two miles to the west. It hails from Goriška Brda in Slovenia, an area which was part of Italy’s esteemed Friuli region through the end of WWII. Simčič is himself considered by Stephen Tanzer to be perhaps the best winemaker in Eastern Europe, and his top wines sell for hundreds of Euros throughout the Old World. Generous and unoaked, this mouthwatering wine is a lovely Pinot Grigio at a great price.

Color
Straw yellow
Nose
Fresh white peach and river stones
Palate
Bright green apple and warm citrus
Finish
Clean, medium+ finish
Vineyard Location
Goriska Brda, Primorska
Vineyard Size
60 ha
Varietals List
100% Pinot Grigio
Farming Practices
Organically farmed (non-certified) including dry-farmed; grapes picked by hand
Elevation
100 m
Soils
Ponca (clay)
Maturation Summary
Bottled for 2 months
Alcohol
13.0 %
Acidity
6.2 g/liter
Residual Sugar
1 g/liter
Annual Production
160,000 bottles

Sauvignon Blanc

The complement to his highly popular Giocato Pinot Grigio, Alek Simčič’s Sauvignon Blanc is a classically-styled wine from one of Europe’s top white appellations. Piercingly clean and bright, its body is taut and linear, with a compelling array of stone fruit, citrus, and terroir-driven minerality. Through low yields, Aleks achieves a wine with stunning (unoaked) weight and character. 90 Pts Wine Enthusiast!

Color
Straw yellow with green reflections
Nose
Grapefruit, lemon grass, sweet peas, and thistle undertones
Palate
Medium bodied with elegant mineral notes
Finish
Crisp, medium+ finish
Vineyard Location
Goriska Brda, Primorska
Vineyard Size
8 ha
Varietals List
100% Sauvignon Blanc
Farming Practices
Organically farmed (non-certified) including dry-farmed; grapes picked by hand
Elevation
150 m
Soils
Ponca (clay)
Maturation Summary
Bottled for 2 months
Alcohol
13.0 %
Acidity
5.5 g/liter
Residual Sugar
2 g/liter
Annual Production
60,000 bottles