The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: Paolo Bea and Josko Gravner

Posted on | November 4, 2015 | Written by Camacho Vidal | No Comments

CamachoBiodynamic winemaking looks at the vineyard as a whole, the soil under the vines, the flora and fauna and how they symbiotically coexist and are in tune to the spiritual forces of the cosmos. Everything is interconnected and gives off energy, including celestial bodies like the moon, planets and stars; biodynamic viticulture practices the balancing of energy among the vines, earth and stars.

These are not new, recently discovered vitcultural techniques; in fact, there is nothing new behind the theory of biodynamic agriculture. From ancient Greeks and Egyptians to current editions of the Farmer’s Almanac, farmers engage in these practices. Whether these techniques work might be up to debate, but people in the wine trade seem to agree that biodynamic viniculture produces wines that are more expressive of their place of origin, and I believe that this is especially true for producers who are passionate about the land. I have had the opportunity to meet two winemakers who are well established in making wine using biodynamic practices. Both Paolo Bea and Josko Gravner make majestic wines with biodynamic practices that are unique to themselves, and today I picked two of my favorite orange wines from these two winemakers.

Paolo Bea 2012 Bianco Santa Chiara $49.99

Paolo Bea’s estate lies in Montefalco in Umbria, the only landlocked region of Italy. Bea’s philosophy is to seek the balance between nature and human action without using chemicals or fertilizers. IWM’s recent Halloween tasting featured the Santa Chiara 2012, a blend of basically equal parts of Grechetto, Malvasia, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Garganega. The juice spends about one year on the lees to give us a beautiful, interesting, copper-color wine with a complex nose: apricots, citrus notes, and a slight minerality is followed by herbal notes, honey and forest flowers. The palate is tart and dry with earthy mineral tones on the finish. Drink now to the end of the decade.

Gravner 2006 Breg Anfora $94.99

Located in Friuli, Josko Gravner is a perfectionist who makes wines like no others in the world. These deep orange wines are magical with very smooth edges and a seamless mouth-feel, pure flavors, liveliness, elegance and complexity. The winemaking process that Gravner uses includes macerating on the skins for up to nine months in amphora, large clay post buried in the ground. The results are white wines that are more like reds sometimes requiring time in a decanter. I poured the Gravner Breg Anfora 2006 this past Saturday, and the deep Josko lantern orange color was perfect for the Halloween theme. The nose of this wine is both intense and restrained, with slight traces of apricot and honey framed with a light tannic mineral-driven background and soft white flower notes. The palate was tight and tannic with pleasant acidity that gives way to some caramel and a lengthy almond finish that seems to linger for hours. Drink 2018 to 2025.

 

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