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Joško Gravner is, as Amber Revolution states, “the father of the modern-day amber/orange/macerated wine movement.” Located in the village of Oslavia, a stone’s throw from Italy’s border with Slovenia, the Gravner family has been making wine for generations. Initially a producer of critically acclaimed, conventional Friulian wines, he grew dissatisfied with them, discarding his modern equipment in 1997. He started experimenting with extended skin contact for his white wines, taking inspiration from Georgia’s millennia-old winemaking culture, and embraced its qvevri as the ideal fermentation vessel. His groundbreaking amber wines paved the way for other producers – and have since ranked among the world’s finest.
His Ribolla Gialla comes from three organically cultivated vineyards, where the soil consists of sandstone-marl flysch (known locally as ponca) and which are worked according to the lunar calendar. The grapes were hand-picked, destemmed, crushed and loaded in qvevri to ferment spontaneously and macerate for 5-6 months, with regular punchdowns during alcoholic and malolactic fermentations. Afterwards, the wine was pressed off the skins with a basket press and matured a further 5-6 months in qvevri. It was then transferred to 13-70hl Slavonian oak botti and aged for 5-7 years, after which it was bottled unfiltered and unfined, with a small amount of sulphites added.
The 2010 vintage has a deep amber colour, with golden-copper reflections. Its bouquet is profound, stern and complex, filled with warmth and decidedly not fruit-forward. Aromas of orange peel, baked apple, dried apricot and yellow raisin are enveloped in those of caramel, beeswax, baking spices, almonds, sage, warm earth and leather. On the palate it’s full-bodied and powerful, with crisp acidity, mouth-filling texture, polished tannins and clean minerality. The depth and concentration are immense, its different elements beautifully intertwined. Dried fruit, bruised apple and preserved lemon are complemented by acacia honey, clay, crushed rocks, oregano and hazelnuts. Its finish is hauntingly long, filled with white flowers, dried herbs and warm spices.