Stanislao RadikonStanislao (Stanko) Radikon pursues a deceptively simple philosophy—the
production of a wine that is wholly natural. In a world, however, where a wine’s
stability takes precedence over authenticity, Radikon’s objective is
paradoxically complex. These wines strike and stir one’s senses in all
of their aspects—beginning with their appearance, which is uncommonly
deep for a white wine. The aroma and palate are arresting—complex expressions
that defy description or conversely, invite a myriad of words that can never
quite get at everything that’s going on. Wines without compromise, they
possess a fundamental connection to the past, which they deliver to the present
There are two primary schools of thought defining Friulian winemaking: The
late Mario Schiopetto inaugurated the first of these, a pure-varietal discipline
that privileges the preservation of a grape’s character through stainless
steel and temperature control. The second, headlined initially by Josko Gravner,
advocates the use of barrique fermentation and aging. There is also
a third contingent—one comprised of minds that pursue a decidedly alternative
course—one in which they do not follow, but lead an individual exploration.
Interestingly, the members of this set are associated primarily through their
fierce independence and avant garde approaches, rather than specific practices.
Principal among these is Radikon, whose methodology is radical in its pragmatic
evocation of the winemaking style that defined Friulian production prior to
the 1930s. His techniques comprise what some deem the “Slovenian” style
of Friulian winemaking—extended maceration periods, the use of large
oak barrels, and manual harvesting. This approach, however, is best known,
perhaps, by what it rejects—namely, chemical pesticides, temperature-controlled
fermentation, and sulfur.
This return to tradition may seem a romantic venture, but it is one that is
attended by high risk. Radikon began moving towards a sulfite-free production
in the 1999 vintage, in which sulfites were used only minimally. The 2002 vintage
represents his first vinification sans added-in sulfites. This omission renders
his wines very unstable—yet also contributes to their provocative and
genuine rendering of the style of wine produced by his grandfather, Franz Mikulus,
who founded the Radikon estate. Intriguingly, however, Radikon’s homage
to the past is most profound in his intensive study of the conditions by which
his wines may realize their potential maturation. This appeal to the modern
characterized his efforts to identify the type of cork best suited to the aging
of his wines. He discovered that the ideal cork possessed thinner strands than
those present in the corks used for 750-ml bottles. In order to maximize the
use of this cork, Radikon instituted the development of a bottle shape that
complemented the width of the cork. He debuted 1-liter and half-liter bottles
with a narrow neck in the 2002 vintage—a move that increased ’02’s
disarmingly bold attitude.
Radikon’s viticultural practices include dense planting and an intensive
pruning regimen, efforts that are maximized by a rigorous process of selection.
All Radikon wines are essentially vinified in accordance with the same noninterventionist
protocol. The standard regime entails an extended 30-day maceration period in
Slavonian oak vats, a process that is conducted without temperature control.
Thereafter, the wine is aged in large Slavonian botti for approximately
3 years prior to bottling. Radikon’s wines present a pronounced profile
and realize an aging period of 15 years. The indigenous Ribolla Gialla was the
sole varietal planted by Mikulus, although his daughter and son-in-law—Stanislao’s
parents—expanded this solo varietal representation by adding Merlot, Tocai
Friulano, and Pinot Grigio. It is Radikon’s firm belief, however, that
the Ribolla Gialla grape—the favored varietal of Friuli’s iconoclasts—provides
the most profound articulation of Collio’s terroir. Since 1980, Stanislao
has overseen the estate’s production, sourced from 12 hectares; he is presently
assisted by his wife, Suzana, and his son, Sasa.
Venezia Giulia IGT