You can tell a great winemaker not by what they produce in a good year, but by what they pull together from a catastrophic one. And it didn’t get much worse than Dario Prinčič’s 2008 vintage, where some 90% of his harvest was infected with Peronospora (downy mildew). Prinčič salvaged a pitiful amount of grapes, blended the entire output together and made a one off – the aptly named “Favola”, meaning fable or legend.
There are a small number of winemakers out there who defy any attempt at categorisation, apart from superlatives. Elisabetta Foradori is one. She’s the darling of the Italian biodynamic wine movement, an early convert to amphorae, and a peerless exponent of long skin maceration for white wines. But it feels clumsy to describe Foradori’s output with such limiting terms and techniques.
White, red and rosé wines can have bubbles – so why not orange? It hadn’t crossed my mind that such a fascinating sub-genre might exist, but it does. Ernesto Cattel might well have been one of the first to bring it to market – his Costadilà estate on the Northern slopes of Valdobbiadene was founded in 2006, to showcase the more traditional face of Prosecco.
The Morning Claret has been a little sparse with blogging lately – holidaying in South Africa was the focus of a two glorious weeks. Part of that was of course about wine discovery, and there’s plenty to discover in the huge and diverse Cape winelands. Like Johan Meyer and his Mount Abora project!
Almost 18 months after discovering Štekar’s serious, spicy and brooding Rebula at Rawfair in 2013, The Morning Claret made it out to their beautiful corner of Brda (Western Slovenia), to discover an outstanding skin macerated RIesling.
“It’s oxidised” – how many times have I heard this statement, when talking about orange wines? Even amongst wine professionals, the misconception often prevails. Most of us are very visual creatures – confronted with what we’re told is ostensibly a white wine, and a darker russet brown, golden yellow or downright orange colour, it can be hard to shake off the thought that the wine is in less than prime condition.
The message from Menti, a small family estate in Northern Italy’s Veneto, has a clear intent – these wines are strong, characterful and rather distinct from the usual light, fruity fare that one would expect. Monte del Cuca is a 100% Garganega feremented on its skins for 22 days.
Old wines never cease to fascinate me. They invariably come to the table with a story to tell, with baggage attached, with secrets and profundities that are simply impossible in the latest vintage.
This 1997 Breg from Josko Gravner is laden with resonance – it’s one of the first years that Gravner bottled his then “new” style of wine, abandoning steel tanks and French oak barriques entirely, for long skin contact and ageing in much larger more neutral oak vessels. It’s the last year that Gravner kept his old label – the now iconic red/brown vine lable has graced every produced sine 1998. It also predates his usage of amphora for commercially bottled wines.
Large oak maturation vessels at Gravner
Rossidi winery is the brainchild of Edward and Rosie Kourian, who make wine together with their friend and consultant winemaker Peter Georgiev. Rossidi are one of a very few producers in Bulgaria who are daring, playful and savvy about what 21st century consumers might like – Eddie’s character runs through everything from his self-confessed “extravagant” satorial style to the beautiful self-designed labels. I tried their wines at a large tasting in Plovdiv last October. They were a breath of fresh air amongst many rather clumsy, oak-monsters.
Right now, amphoras are hip. So is minimal intervention, and extended skin contact for white wines. Diane Iannaccone and Mario Basco of “I Cacciagalli” in Campania do all three, so that makes them super-on trend. Any thoughts that they might be bandwagon jumpers were banished with one taste of their “orange” Fiano, “Zagreo”. It’s an exceptional wine, produced by people who know exactly what they are doing.