Gravner Ribolla Gialla 2013

£89.95

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“Sweetly scented and exotic in nature, the 2013 Ribolla Gialla Anfora is rich yet airy, with dusty dried flowers, raw honey, ground ginger and yellow apples forming its bouquet. This is broad and round on the palate with ripe yellow pit fruits and Indian spices, as a balancing bitter twang tugs at the cheeks, all motivated by bright acidity. The 2013 often seems more like juice than wine, tapering off long with a hint of butterscotch, yet not derived through wood, while leaving notes of cardamom and tropical melon to linger. What a beauty. Due to heavy rain in late summer, production of the Ribolla was down by around 30%, with only 18,000 bottles produced. Drinking window: 2022-2034. 96 points

It’s quite amazing, when dining in Italy, just how often a bottle of Gravner is being served to a group at a neighboring table. It seems like the Italians must be on to something because, here in the States, the work of Josko Gravner is seen by the majority as esoteric oddities, with all due respect, and only by a minority as the true treasures that they are. Granted, it can be subject to stylistic preferences; and let’s face it, “orange” wine isn’t for everyone, but there’s simply something about the wines of Gravner that transcends these categories. Today, Josko Gravner has chosen just two native varieties to place all of his attention on, Ribolla Gialla, labeled as Ribolla, and Pignolo, labeled as Rosso Breg. The process that he has perfected over time remains in place, where the primary focus is in the vineyards. The Gravner vineyards span across the borders of Italy into Slovenia, with only small ravines and outcroppings of woods that separate the two countries. Within those vineyards, you’ll find man-made ponds (“a-la” Gianfranco Soldera), as well as trees and bird houses, as the family strives to maintain an equilibrium of biodiversity amongst the vines, while tending to them through biodynamic practices. Perfect ripeness, achieved through harvesting as late as possible, and often botrytis-affected grapes, is the key. What happens from there is all about patience and time. Within the Gravner winery, headed up by Josko and his daughter, Mateja, you’ll find the amphora chamber that has helped define a large part of this region over time. Buried beneath the ground are a large number of terracotta Georgian “qvevri”. These vessels become the new home of Gravner’s perfectly ripe fruit, as the grapes ferment, whole cluster, for up to six months within them. From there, the juice is pressed and then returned to the amphora for another six months, then followed by up to six years or more in large neutral oak barrels of various sizes–yes, six years; as I said, time and patience. When you consider this, it starts to make sense as to why the wines of Gravner are so unique, containing a depth of texture and richness that can sometimes seem like it might be too much, only to be perfectly balanced by the wine’s structure and acidity. And while Gravner has certainly inspired a generation of winemakers, very few can come close to the magic that is created in this vineyard and cellar. If you’re looking for an experience to test your imagination and your palate, or to understand the skin-contact wines of Friuli from their inception–this is the address to do it.”

Eric Guido, Vinous (04/22)

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