A Wine That
changed the world. It is no exaggeration to say that the vision of Joško Gravner has paved the way for a whole generation of winemakers who do not believe in sticking to societal rules and conventions of how wine should be made. With its piercing burnt orange lava-lamp colour, this is mesmerising just to look at. And the aromas? Well we'll just say two things: 1) bet you've never tasted a wine that tastes this much like chamomile before, and 2) we're sure this is a wine that will change the way you look at what's in your glass forever.
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- Winemaker: Gravner
Where and How?
This cuvée comes from the ancient, indigenous Ribolla Gialla variety, which has been planted in the area for over 1,000 years. The vineyards are tended biodynamically by the Gravner family.
The wine fermented naturally in Georgian amphorae (qvevri) on the skins, underground, after which it was aged for a further five years in old oak barrels. It was bottled unfined, unfiltered and with just a touch of sulphur.
Imagine your region becomes a war zone, everybody is evacuated, your house becomes a first aid Red Cross base, and then one day you wake up and you find yourself in a new country? That is what happened to the Gravner family when the Austro-Hungarian Empire was dissolved after the first world war, borders were moved, and they found themselves in Italy, not Slovenia.
The family was suddenly thrust headfirst into a completely new wine market. Later, this market would develop into something considered very modern at the time; international varieties were planted, such as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, instead of the indigenous Ribolla Gialla and Pignolo. Technological winemaking – lab-cultured yeasts and stainless steel tanks were introduced in the 70s, replacing the traditional methods of skin maceration and barrel ageing.
Although his ‘modern wines’ were selling well, and there was consistent demand for them, something didn’t feel quite right to Joško Gravner. On a trip to California in the 80s, he was shocked by the new additives being used in winemaking and decided to change course. Little did he know when he threw these modern techniques away, that he would one day be considered one of the thought leaders of a modern return to ancestral winemaking.
We had the chance to speak with Mateja Gravner, Joško's daughter, to hear the full story.