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 (or were) a mere 2,800 bottles of Favola 2008, bottled with distinctive black labels rather than Prinčič’s usual grey.
The blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio, Friulano, and Ribolla Gialla is atypical, as Prinčič normally saves his Ribolla and Friulano for varietal bottlings. Production methods are more familiar, with around 30 days of skin contact, in open top oak and cherry fermenters. I don’t have exact details about this wine from Dario, but I believe the Pinot Grigio received less skin contact than the other varieties.
A beauty born out of disaster
Favola 2008 raises the bar for Prinčič’s wines – there’s the customary deep browny red hue, recognisable from his thrilling Pinot Grigio in regular years, a hint of pear drops on the nose, giving way to crunchy cranberry and raspberry fruit. But what struck me with this eight year old was the silky tannins – the perfect foil to the taut, tensile fruit, they positively caress the palate and entice you to pick up the glass again.
There’s a focus and elegance to Favola that is striking – and after almost a decade, it remains impressively fresh and vital. Not only that, it’s seriously food friendly, pairing effortlessly with fish and fatty meat dishes.
We found a bottle of this gem on the list at Bak, one of a small but growing clutch of Amsterdam restaurants looking to Copenhagen for inspiration. Bak comes highly recommended for refined, imaginative yet restrained cooking, and a great wine list. Be sure to ask Alessandro to show you the “cellar list”, which has a much larger choice than the regular wine list.
I can’t promise that you’ll still find a bottle of Favola, either at Bak or elsewhere. Those 2,800 bottles are no doubt much depleted. That said, all of Prinčič’s wines come heartedly recommended – and I certainly wouldn’t wish another year like 2008 upon him.
Favola 2008 bottles are still to be found on the internet if you hunt hard…. and if I didn’t get there first.