Josko Gravner is one of those producers who challenges you. He's more than a winemaker; he's a wine philosopher. There are two ways to make wine, Josko says. The first is to see what the market wants and make wine that fits it. The second is to look inside yourself. For years, he did the former; coming out of trade school, Josko threw himself full-throttle into modern winemaking, throwing away his forebears' botti and using nothing but stainless steel. But then he suffered an epiphany, and he realized that the wine was soulless, and the way he was making it was hurting the earth. So he slowly returned not just to the tradition of his Friuli forebears but to the ways of the ancient Romans.
In searching for a way to make wine with a soul, Josko rediscovered anfora, the giant clay pots, and he began to make his wine in them, slowly paring away all the vestiges of modernity. Make no mistake: this choice takes real commitment on Josko's part. He has to travel into Georgia, once part of the former USSR, with armed guards to secure his amphorae. But it's important to Josko to make wines with a soul, so the risk is worth it. Josko grows his grapes naturally and makes his wines without intervention, using anfora, clay vats so large that you could fit a person inside them, sunk into the earth. He believes in the power of nature so completely that to interfere with nature would be sacrilege, and his wines look, smell and taste like no other. They are simply otherworldly.
Today, I'm very proud to bring a new allocation of the 2005 anfora pair from Josko, the '05 Anfora Breg and the '05 Anfora Gialla. These are breathtaking wines--if you want to enjoy them now, decant them for a few hours first and serve at cellar temperature, just as you would a serious red. But you can also hold onto them for decades and see how they morph and meld with the passage of time. Along with this Gravner pair, I'm delighted to bring you a nearly fifty-year-old Barolo from Giuseppe Mascarello and a ready-to-drink 2012 Guado al Tasso. Both of these wines are spectacular experiences.