Winemaker, visionary, and maverick, Josko Gravner has asserted that the two main things he has learned in his lifetime were how to ferment and how to prune--and that he was 45 before he learned either. This is a patient man. “My first taste of the wine is after fermentation. Disturbing a wine before is like disturbing a baby before it is born,” he said. When I heard him say this at a talk a few years ago, I imagined Gravner standing by his amphora like a man standing at his wife’s burgeoning belly. I could feel his patience tinged with anxiety and, above all, I could sense his unshakeable trust in the natural processes of birth and growth.
Although he claims not to like this analogy, Gravner uses this wine-as-child analogy when he talked of bottling his wine. “Bottling before a wine is ready is like buying a kid his last pair of shoes at seven,” Gravner said, and I envisioned the wine as a toddler; young, vibrant and growing, it needed its freedom to thrive. To put a growing kid’s feet into one pair of shoes is to stifle growth. Likewise, to put a growing, maturing wine into a bottle is to halt it. It would become a bonsai wine, a tiny stunted wine, when it could have grown into a great, towering beauty.
I’m delighted to offer a big bunch of Gravner wines to you today. For years, my personal tradition for Christmas Eve dinner, the festa dei sette pesce, or feast of the seven fishes, is to pour Gravner. A lot of Gravner, actually. Every year, my family and close friends gather and eat and drink and talk and drink some more until we happily collapse. Gravner’s wines, these kaleidoscopic, nearly indescribably gems that glow an otherworldly gold in the glass, make food sing, especially seafood, and they always make the experience of celebration a peak one.
Along with these Gravner greats, I’m proud to offer verticals of two extraordinary wines--Sassicaia, the wine that started the Super-Tuscan revolution, and Ornellaia, one of the wines that made it a global phenomenon. You simply can’t find these verticals anywhere else, and I’m delighted to share them with you, my clients, people who will appreciate them for their history, artistry and taste.