The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: Josko Gravner and…Josko Gravner!

Posted on | March 23, 2015 | Written by David Gwo | No Comments

David Gwo 12.8.14Friuli has a reputation for innovative winemaking with a focus on unique and expressive whites, and few individuals have pioneered and influenced the wines of the region as much as Josko Gravner. He follows a philosophy that applies not only to his wines, but also to his own personal life. His estate is completely biodynamic; there is no artificial intervention in the vineyards or in the cellar; and he believes that nature makes the best wine. He ferments in clay anfora, an ancient technique, in which all the lees and juice are poured into a big clay pot that’s buried underground for temperature control; this gives the wine an slightly oxidized character (in a good way), and it imparts the orange hue that exists in the wine.

A couple of months ago my colleagues and I had the opportunity to attend a seminar hosted by Josko during a visit to NYC, tasting his mono-varietal Ribolla Giallas dating back to the 1998. These wines have aged incredibly, possessing an incredible richness and mouth-feel backed by apricot fruits, honey, minerality, and spice. In addition to using anfora, Gravner believes in using grapes that have grown the “noble rot” known as botrytis, which is famous in the production of some of the world’s best dessert wines. Gravner’s wines, however, are bone dry, but the botrytis imparts that characteristic “botrytis spice.” In the past, Gravner made an array of wines, red and white; in the past few years, he has focused on Ribolla Gialla, although until recently he also made a blend called Breg Anfora. These are whites that we say drink like reds because of their texture. They are easily some of the most distinct wines out there, and must-have wines for Italian wine enthusiasts.

Gravner 2005 Breg Anfora $89.99

A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, and Pinot Grigio, this wine offers roundness with a bit more fruit character in comparison to the Ribolla Gialla. Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio are fuller whites that impart both tropical fruit and apple notes, while Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc contribute the acidity that gives white wines their structure. I would recommend the Breg to those who are trying Gravner for the first time because it utilizes these internationally recognized whites. Even so, don’t expect the same experience!

Gravner 2005 Ribolla Gialla Anfora $89.99

Ribolla Gialla is a white grape that is indigenous to Friuli. Typically the wine possesses citrus and mineral notes, but in the hands of Gravner, it has achieved so much more. The Ribolla, compared to the Breg, is much more tense and linear. It is very distinct in the way it presents its flavors across the palate. The 2005 is very bold and very spicy, possessing those notes of citrus fruit, honey, and minerals, backed by mouth-watering acidity. This wine will undoubtedly age effortlessly and is one of the greatest, if not greatest, expression of Ribolla Gialla coming out of Friuli.

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