I don't know if the perception is the reality, but it seems as if Italy has an unfair number of producers who are iconoclastic, unusual, and so brilliant they're a bit mad. They might be visionaries, like Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, who saw the potential to make Bordeaux-style blends in dusty Bolgheri. They might be disciplinarians, men like Gianfranco Soldera, whose Case Basse estate in Montalcino is a carefully planned idyllic garden. They might be biodynamic dancing masters, like Movia's Ales Kristancic, whose wines twirl with an explosive vitality. They might be hard-lined sticklers to tradition, like Bruno Giacosa or Bartolo Mascarello. There are so many examples.
Even among Italy's maverick producers, the one we feature today, Josko Gravner, stands apart. Winemaker, mystic and perfectionist, 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. Gravner has tinkered ceaselessly in his drive to make a pure expression of his Friuli terroir, but a little more than a decade ago, he set upon the method he uses to this day: extended aging on the lees and fermentation in big clay vats buried in the ground. Some producers' wines are easy to recognize; Gravner's take an open mind, but their beauty shimmers and twists, morphing every few seconds in the glass. I love Gravner's wines with passion.
Today I'm very proud to debut the 2006 Breg Anfora and Ribolla Gialla from Gravner. He harvested the grapes for these wines a little later than usual, and they are all the more complex, interesting and explosive for it. It feels only right to put these Gravner bottlings in the company of two other serious and nonconformist producers--so I'm offering rare double magnums of Bruno Giacosa's 2003 Le Rocche Falletto and eight vintages of 1990s Brunellos from Gianfranco Soldera.
Big and amazing seems like the right way to start off the week. Enjoy!