Epiphanic moment yesterday, confronted with a 2001 Francesco Gravner Ribolla Gialla. Table discussed a new dimension of smell & taste. Stainless? No, too much character. Wood? No way. Then what? Answer: amphora, covered with bees wax. Highly, highly recommended. I disagree with Galloni's comment below, where he says "ultimately it comes across as disjointed and lacking cohesiveness". And also his "Decanting is not recommended" is definitely wrong. Interestingly enough, bottle produced at my request of a "good Slovenian, something with a WOW factor". Certainly, who can think of Gorizia as part of Italy?
2001 Francesco Gravner Ribolla Gialla
A Ribolla Dry White Table wine from Friuli, Italy
Source : eRobertparker.com # 173 Oct 2007
Reviewer : Antonio Galloni
Rating : 88
Maturity : Drink 2007 - 2011
Current (Release) Cost $90-$95 (110)
I have tasted the 2001 Ribolla Gialla on multiple occasions over the last year or so and it has never been fully convincing. The fruit is clear, precise and vibrant, with notable purity allied to power but ultimately it comes across as disjointed and lacking cohesiveness. Anticipated maturity: 2007-2011.
Josko Gravner is a man of few words. He comes across as quite reserved yet I sense a certain spirituality and timelessness about him, a longing for a time in the past when life was simpler and more rooted to the land. Gravner continues to cast a large presence in the region, continually pushing the envelope with his wines and significantly influencing the younger generation of producers. In the 1980s his adoption of stainless steel and barriques was widely emulated as was his move to long maceration times on the skins for his whites in the late 1990s. In 2001 Gravner released his first wines fermented in amphora. These wines are the result of the many trips Gravner made to the Caucasus mountains in the republic of Georgia, which he first visited in his quest to learn more about the ancient origins of wine. Several producers have told me recently they are convinced about the amphora as a fermentation vessel and plan to make wines in a similar style. I am not convinced, at least not yet. Gravner's 2001s are clearly wines of transition and while his 2002s are more successful, a longer track record is essential before any informed opinion can be reached. The winery is located in the hills of Oslavia, a sub-zone of the Friulian Collio that straddles the border with Slovenia. From a historical standpoint this is an important stretch of land, as a number of battles in World War I were fought here. Gravner's house was a military hospital during the war. For many years following the conflict veterans who had been treated at the house would come back to visit the place where they had been cared for. Today the house and the attached cellar are the embodiment of Gravner's Spartan aesthetic. Gravner works mostly with older vineyards which he prunes to produce tiny yields. All work in the vineyards and cellar is done in strict accordance with lunar phases. The wines are fermented in amphoras using only natural yeasts, where they are then left on the skins for about seven months prior to being racked into oak casks for aging. The wines are bottled without fining or filtration. Readers who want to explore this producer's wines might want to start with the Breg, a blend of predominantly international varietals that most palates are likely to find both more accessible as well as more familiar in terms of its aromatic and flavor profile. Gravner's whites typically feature amber-toned colors and can be a little cloudy (less of an issue with the current amphora wines). These are not flaws, rather they are the inherent characteristics of the wines themselves. Lastly, Gravner's whites behave like red wines. They will be even more expressive a day after opening, so readers may want to open the wines well in advance of serving them. Decanting is not recommended, however, as these wines are extremely delicate and often don't respond well to movement.
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