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February 19, 2008

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Lisa Qiu

Gorgeous. Your writing, your insight, your connections.... Terry--- you're ripe to be famous!

TH

Overripe, I'd say. But thank you, my dear, thank you.

Jeremy Parzen

great post, Terry. We tend to idealize Gravner (and the wines are fascinating) but the insight into what's happening "on the ground," as they say in U.N.-speak, puts things in perspective. Ben tornato...

TH

Grazie, JP. One thing I didn't put into the post was that Mario gets sick whenever he drinks one of these "dirty" wines, and not only Gravner's. He told me that he expected to see shrimp floating in the stuff next, as a sign of REAL authenticity.

Eric

Terry,

I do not know the Zanussos but to call Gravner's wines "dirty'' is ridiculous. It raises questions about the Zanussos' motivation for such an assertion rather than calling Gravner's methods into question. Anybody who's ever tasted a Gravner amphora wine would realize that the winemaking has to be far more scrupulous and careful than it does to make conventional wines.

Eric

Terry,

I do not know the Zanussos but to call Gravner's wines "dirty'' is ridiculous. It raises questions about the Zanussos' motivation for such an assertion rather than calling Gravner's methods into question. Anybody who's ever tasted a Gravner amphora wine would realize that the winemaking has to be far more scrupulous and careful than it does to make conventional wines.

TH

I can't look inside their minds, Eric, but I do think that a good part of their motivation is a real aversion to the back-to-the-future methods, and bandwagon-jumping, of others besides Gravner as well -- Castello Lispida would be one example (which we did indeed talk about). Mario clearly expressed his distaste for cultishness in winemaking and buying. I concede that there is a bit of irony in that, since the Zanussos' wines are definitely a hand sell and require a small cadre of devoted followers to make a market for them.

I did sense real resentment at Gravner's self-positioning -- above all around him, etc. I can believe that this resentment is widely shared in what is still an emerging wine district.

I wrote the piece knowing that a few hackles would be raised, notably yours, since you've written warmly of Gravner's wines on several occasions. Still, I do feel that the Zanussos were frank and honest, and I think that their wines speak well of their talents as well as intentions.

By the way, thank you very much for responding. It's a pleasure to have you here.

Jeremy Parzen

I have to agree with Eric that "dirty" comment is excessive. Gravner's wines are indeed very well made (and I have tasted and enjoyed them immensely).

TH

Excessive or not, it is what Mario said, and surely he's entitled to his informed opinion "on the ground", as you said.

alice

Fascinating insight. Thanks for this fun ride. And Gravener 'dirty' wine. Well, we'll talk about that one over a dirty wine of our own. --Alice

TH

Thanks, Alice. Did you read the associated posts? Nice mini-controversy, if you can even call it that.

I repeat: I reflexively distrust anyone or thing that receives such an uncritical reception, taking everything at face value. "No cheap grace," indeed.

George Vare

I hope it is not too late to weigh in on the Gravner discussions.

I have visited him numerous times at his wineries in both Friuli and Slovenia, and he has visited my vineyard in Napa.

Josko is very independent (to the point of seeming arrogant) about his approach to making wines in a "natural" way. He has his own reasons for making wine the way he does and is not interested in defending either his approach or his results.

He is an excellent winemaker with a small band of followers. In my mind, when he makes wines without SO2 the results are outstanding - not messy oxidized wines that are barely drinkable as some of his followers did at the outset of this approach. Fortunately, these followers are learning how to overcome the calamity of over-oxidized wine.

When Josko says natural, he follows the practice back into the vineyard with a strong sense of biodiversity on his land with a variety of flora, fauna and related insects, birds, etc.

Drink any of his Bregs or Ribolla Giallas from the late 1990's or early 2000's when he was beginning to experiment with amphoreas - outstanding wines. "Dirty" is the wrong word for them as it has a bad connotation. Different is a much better characterization.
Since they are different, some people will not like or enjoy them. There are some wines I do not enjoy, so I do not drink them. Cheers to him for trying something different! He has given us something to think about or react to.

Josko helped us a great deal with our Ribolla Gialla, but we do not follow his winemaking regimen. We do follow his vineyard pracices, though. We use a small amount of SO2 for protection of our wine. We do not choose to go the amphorea route either - a matter of "taste" - our taste.

We are pleased to be the only grower of Ribolla Gialla that we know of in the US. Our choice of this variety came from enjoying it in Friuli and Slovenia over the past 10 years while visiting our winemaking friends there.

Jack

Those are strange comments, for sure. I've not found Gravner's wines to be dirty. Some of the greatest white wines I've ever had have been his. And I'm not the only one who thinks this.

And, I also think both i Clivi and Movia represent the top of the "value" wineries for the area.

Tomaz

Don't want to sound like a attorney, but some comments, that say you gave a introspective on the "ground" need to have some more explication "on the ground".

I don't know Mario Zanusso and his wines, but from his comments I presume he has a big personal issue with Gravner. I can only speculate what is the reason, maybe he once tried to visit Gravner's cellar and got rejacted. And now he's angry.

I tried Gravner wines x-times and those who call them dirty should have their palate checked. Different, yes, thank's god, but never dirty. never.

Absurd prices? A bottle of Gravner cost's about 32 euro from the cellar. He produces ca. 30.000 bottles of wine from 18 hectares of wineyards, most of them planted up to 10.000 wines per hectare. He uses amhorae, imported from Georgia, and the best oak wats from Garbelotto. His wines age and purify in his cellar for 42 months before bottling. Is 32 euro a high price for such an effort? I would like to see Mr. Zanusso do his math to compare.

He also claimed that Gravner is not part of the comunity. This is the most pitiful statement: "He doesn't give anything back. He doesn't share or take part in things."

Gravner is one of the most important persons, responsible for the positive evolvment of the whole Friulian wine region. He put the one no named wine region on the worldwide map of good wine and help to raise a number of other well known producers. At least 100+ winemakers if not more visited his cellar in the 70, 80 and early 90'ies to get ideas and advice how to make their wines better.


A short comment to Aquilla del Torre - I tried their wines at the Vini Veri this and last year. Very nice people - especialy the german talking lady at the table. The wines were nice and tastefull, but a bit too technical for my idea of a "vini veri". Good, but by far not in the same league Gravner played in every stage of his wine making evolution.

Greetings from Slovenia!


Marko

Another perspective from Slovenia:

@ Jack
Antonio Galloni gave 90 - 92 points for 2002 Gravner wines. This rating is very close to what I think of Gravner wines - definitely very good to outstanding (more latter then former) wines (89 - 92) but by no means extraordinary wines (96 - 100). So far I have tasted Breg and Ribolla Gialla from 1999 to 2002 and it is very difficult for me to compare Gravner wines with the best white burgundies (Leflaive Chevalier 1999, 2000, 2002; Bouchard Montrachet 1999, 2000, 2002; even Bonneau du Martray Corton Charlemagne 1999, 2000, 2002; not to mention Coche-Dury Corton Charlemagne 1996, which I had privilege to taste a while ago). Your 10 best white wines so far?

@ Jack & Terry
Speaking of Movia and gimmicks - what do you think of Movia's Lunar and Puro? By the way here is also Jancis Robinson's opinion of Lunar (http://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/20080226_1).


Regards
Marko

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