Josko Gravner | Venezia Giulia Ribolla Gialla | Orange wine | Natural wine | Italy

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Josko Gravner HeartHeartHeart
Natural wine

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane
Country: Italy

Josko Gravner's 18 hectares of vineyards lie in Friuli close to the border with Slovenia where he makes interesting wines from native grapes such as Ribolla Gialla and Pignolo. Many of his wines are matured in large, 3500 litre amphorae.
The estate of Josko Gravner lies on the border between Italy and Slovenia near the village of Oslavia in the north east corner of Italy, a short distance north-west of Trieste. This village is less than a klometre from the border between Italy and Slovenia.
Here he grows a variety of local and 'international' grapes including Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Grigio, Pignolo and Ribolla Gialla. It is the last two that we find most interesting but mostly we are entranced by the Ribolla.
He is a maker of natural wines although, like most Italians, he does not embrace a label for the way he makes wines. The most interesting aspect of his winemaking is his progression from stainless steel, to oak barrels and then finally to clay amphorae lined with beeswax which he has been using since the 2002 vintage.
The Gravner Venezia Giulia Ribolla Gialla is an 'orange' wine of great complexity, elegance and flavour. It is a wine to savour with friends. This is, indeed, a complex wine made by a complex wine maker who eschews most trappings of modern technology (he believes that wooden barrels are modern technology).
Like many winemakers in this area (and Sicily) he is intrigued by what happens when there is extended contact between the grape skins and the juice. This gives the resultant wine the lovely orange colour and also the deeply compulsive flavour and texture. In combination with the controlled exposure to oxygen it also seems to create incredibly long-lasting wines.
When you smell this wine you will immediately think of hazelnuts or roasted almonds. You will also detect the characteristic honey overtones and, most definitely, dried fruit aromas. The oxygen has reduced so of those fruit-forward aromas in favour of something much more complex and interesting. We also love the structure which is more like the structure of a red wine than a white wine with mild tannins peeking through. There is also a thin line of acidity which gives some of the longevity to this wine.
This is a wine to be savoured, to be thought about and to be enjoyed. We drank this wine recently with friends at a sensational meal at New York's Hearth restaurant, where the last sips of this wine accompanied one of the most ethereal dishes we have ever eaten - Marco Canora's sublime gnocchi served simply with Parmesan, pepper and salt!
 
     
     
     


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