2007gavnerbianco2007 Gravner, Bianco Breg, Venezia Giulia, Italy.
The wines of Josko Gravner are legendary and some of the most intriguing wines in Italy, coming from the borderlands of Venezia Giulia where the vineyards sweep into Slovenia, and where the wines seem to dip into then ancient past, this is the home of the modern Italian Orange wine. These long aging skin contact wines, sometimes considered or called hipster juice, are unique expressions of an ancient craft, very natural and savory in flavor, they can be either gloriously textured and beguiling, or the they can be bizarre or seriously flawed with funky/stinky volatile. The Gravner wines are beautifully made and seriously lovely, now fermented in Amphora exclusively on the skins, his Amphorae come from Georgia and are the big beeswax lined vessels that are sunk into the earth, Josko was one of the first modern area winemakers to employ them in the region. The Gravner estate extends about 60% into Slovenia, this allowed him to more easily travel to Georgia back in Soviet times to investigate the use of Amphora, it wasn’t easy to get these big clay/terracota vessels to Italy safely, in fact it was a decade of trying and heartbreak before a enough of them could be used to make the wines he envisioned. Gravner’s wines take 7 years from harvest to market at least, white or red, he believes this is the perfect amount of time, and I tasted the current releases of the 2007 whites and two of the reds, a 2001 Merlot, non amphora and 2004 Pignolo, again non amphora, as the reds made in amphorae didn’t get going until 2006. The reds were stunningly pure, elegant and freshly detailed, impressive and very eye opening, since I have mainly only heard of the more famous Orange white wines from Gravner! The 2007 Bianco Berg was drinking beautifully open and aromatic, it was my favorite of the orange/whites on the day, just a bit more expressive than the fine Ribolla, it showed a wonderful depth of detail and dry richness that made it excellent with food, it shouldn’t be served too cold either, more like a red wine, it’s golden/peachy hue shines in the glass, it is a blend of varietals including Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay that come from terraced plots of the estate and are fermented separately, each picked when ripe, Gravner picks later and this wine is 14.5% which I believe adds to the pleasure and seductive character, fermentation in amphora on the skins and malos, then aged a further six years in old casks before bottling. The 2007 is still bright, vital and non oxidized with an array of citrus, stone fruits and topical fruit with a balance between savory and fruity elements with earthy tones, chalk and mineral as well as jasmine, lime and dried apricot. These wines were presented to us by Mateja Gravner, Josko’s daughter, who wowed us with the history of Gravner, the region which still is haunted by the two World Wars, and her passion was infectious and made the experience that much more meaningful, these are wines that expand the senses and are worthy of exploration. Gravner has just joined Rosenthal (importer) and should be more available on the US market in January, be sure to look out for them!
($89 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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