In what has been a tumultuous year, in which many of our glasses have been brimful with ongoing worry and concern for what may yet come, how about a virtual hug and a selection of the white wines that for me rescued precious moments of positivty in 2020.
Each is an inspirational work of craft that reaffirms my belief:
a living harmony can be created and maintained in all walks of life.
Belief is returning.
Friulano is recapturing the heart and imagination of its custodians. From the crisp terroir driven style of Franco Toros to the youthful emerging talents of Sara & Sara and the old vines of Sot la Mont to Antico Broilo’s 5 day skin maceration to the short barrel aged complexity of Borgo del Tiglio and Vini Belluzzo, Friulano potential is once again blooming with enlightenment. Covering the last 3 consecutive vintages, all are richly engaging.
From three seperate hilly locations, two in Friuli: Prepotto and Oslavia & one in Slovenia, I found each of these wines to be a conclusive affirmation as to how Ribolla Gialla, a non-aromatic grape variety, expresses its true potential ‘with’ skin contact.
Beginning life as a spontaneous fermentation on the skins, Gravner’s RIBOLLA 2010 followed a path of several months to complete fermentation. The selection from Jermann, Visvik, (circa 2-3 days contact) & Antico Broilo (circa 5-7 days) evidently underwent much shorter periods. Naturally, though their winemaking styles and ideologies differ, as the consumer, I can confide that each bottled result, tasted in Q3/2020, stands as a unique testament to Ribolla’s own appreciation of time spent spontaneously with its skins.
In 2021, I’ll actively be seeking more skin contact in my Ribolla & Rebula: both in Friuli Venezia Giulia & Slovenia.
Malvasia (Istriana) has long been a blending partner in the northeast of Italy and Slovenia but as of 2020 it’s fast becoming a monovarietal worthy of distinction in its own right. Here are three from vintage 2019 which proved wonderful to savour.
A lean Malvasia often has a vibrant underlying mineral buzz about the palate, with clementine citrus and stone fruits that recall a light dusting of ground sweet spices including nutmeg. In warm vintages close to harvest, winemakers need to be attentive to its needs as the tendency to over-ripen happens quickly, resulting in full-bodied, heavy weighted alcoholic wines. Not always a sought after characteristic in a monovarietal, this concentrated depth does come in useful at blending time. Hence Malvasia has spent much of its modern time in the mix.
But every vine has its day and with increasing knowledge and understanding, numerous cellars in Friuli Venezia Giulia & neighbouring Slovenia are already programming their way along the monovarietal path. The time is nigh for Malvasia to shine.