Orange weekly: Gravner – Breg 2004

Josko Gravner and Stanko Radikon, both hailing from Oslavje in north-eastern Friuli, pretty much kickstarted the revival of extended skin contact white wine making, in western Europe (In Georgia it has an unbroken history of 8000 years). For me, this makes uncorking a wine from either producer a special event.

Gravner’s wines are as uncompromising as they are brilliant, produced solely in Georgian qvevris (amphorae) since 2001. This bright amber coloured Breg 2004, a white blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling Italico and Pinot Grigio still feels youthful and rather closed.

Orange weekly: Albert Mathier et Fils – Amphore Assemblage Blanc 2010

Valais, Switzerland isn’t the first place you’d expect to find a Georgian qvevri, but Amédée Mathier has no less than 20 of them. Since 2008, his estate Albert Mathier et Fils (he’s the extant “Fils”) has been making two amphora, or rather qvevri matured wines, one white and one red. Sorry, I mean one orange and one red!

Sweet and sour – A vertical of Chatzivaritis Goumenissa

When I was invited to taste a vertical of wines from Goumenissa, I wasn’t initially sure if that was the wine region, producer or grape variety. Goumenissa turns out to be a tiny but highly rated appellation in Macedonia (Northern Greece), not too far from its bigger brother Naoussa. Chatzivaritis Estate is one of five quality-minded […]

Orange weekly: Guerila – Rebula 2010

Guerila’s Rebula 2010 is restrained and pure on the nose, with attractive honeyed notes.

Rebula is the Slovenian alias for Friuli Collio’s Ribolla Gialla, and there’s no mistaking the characteristic chewiness which is this variety’s calling card. At least if you leave it on the skins for 14 days, as here. If that sounds scary, it’s not at all – the structure of this wine is accessible and refined.

Orange weekly: La Castellada – Ribolla Gialla 2009

This 2009 Ribolla Gialla shows absolute mastery of Oslavia’s cherished variety and the extended skin maceration technique which is increasingly associated with this village.

Brothers Niccolò & Giorgio Bensa started bottling wine at this estate in Oslavia, Friuli Collio in 1985 – their reputation has built impressively ever since. Niccolò’s sons Stefano and Matteo are now involved too. The Bensas were part of the “Gravner group” during the late 1990s, which was so pivotal in reintroducing the traditional methods of extended skin contact and wild yeast ferments.

12 years of Xinomavro

SUMMER 2003, CRETE. I’m staying in a self-catering apartment hidden away on one of Chania’s many labyrinthine alleys.  Almost right opposite is a local shop where I stock up on pasta, vegetables and olive oil. The owner is super friendly and doesn’t speak a word of English. On my first visit he points to a giant […]

Seeing the world through orange-tinted glasses – Radikon & Paraschos

Orange wines have been on my mind lately, having spent the last few weeks writing an article for Decanter. Needing inspiration, I pulled the cork on two rather fine examples of the genre. They were so good, they deserve some blog love here… Radikon Oslavje First up was Radikon’s Oslavje 2003 – a blend of Chardonnay, […]

How Valais put the charm in Chasselas

It took a while before I “got” Chasselas – it was a short trip to Valias this October that sealed the deal… I wrote about the experience for US online wine magazine Palate Press: When Michel Chapoutier mentioned in 2011 that he was considering planting a Chasselas vineyard in the UK, some may have thought […]

The trials of being organic

Here’s my latest column for US online wine magazine Palate Press  – focusing mostly on organic producers in Graves. Last week, the New Zealand Organic Focus Project gave a public presentation on three medium to large NZ wineries who participated in a side-by-side organic versus conventional agriculture trial. The aim was to demonstrate the relative ease […]

Blank de Blanc

I visited Graves & Pessac-Léognan during harvest this year, and was really struck by the relative (for Bordeaux) good value that some wines represent – and by how invisible the white wines are in the UK – a great shame. My piece for Tim Atkin’s site goes into more detail: Browsing the wine selection at Bordeaux […]