Ribolla Gialla 2015, Radikon

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Ribolla Gialla, 2015, Radikon

A deep orange wine with structure and finesse

Region: Friuli, Italy
Grape(s): Ribolla Gialla
Genre: Organic (in mindset, not stamp)
Low Sulphur: Zero
Tasting Notes: Grapefruit peel, peach, spice, macadamia, fine tannins

Regarded as one of the pioneers of modern ‘orange’ winemaking, Stanko Radikon started making white wine ‘the old way’ in 1995. He had been working in a more modern style – white wine, with filtration, fining, modern technology and new oak – until he started to play around with maceration together with a group of winemakers from eastern Italy/Slovenia in the early 1990s. Stanko sadly passed away in 2016, but his son, Saša, is at the helm today and is heavily inspired by his father’s winemaking ethos and style. Saša refers to his father’s pioneering notoriety, referencing similarly legendary Josko Gravner, by saying: “There was one other winemaker in the region making wine like this [long macerated orange wine], which dad was always pleased about because it’s the difference between being considered as ‘the crazy guy’ or leading a new movement!”. Saša is working 18 hectares of vineyards, very close to the Slovenian border, with natural methods in both the vineyards and cellar. They have two lines – the ‘S’ line and the ‘Blue Leaf’. ‘S’ is an introduction to their style, with 1-2 weeks of maceration, creating younger wines that need less ageing; ‘Blue Leaf’ are single varietal and macerated between 2-4 months on the skins, creating deeply and richly flavoured wines that benefit from both old oak and cellar ageing released approximately 5 years after harvest. These are some of the most interesting, quintessential and sought-after orange wines in the world.

This wine is 100% Ribolla Gialla – a local grape that is thick-skinned but delicate in its flavours. It is their star grape, that gets the best vineyards as it was Saša’s grandfather’s desire that this grape found prominence once again. From Ponca soils – minerals, clay and sandstone – the grapes are macerated for a mix of 2 and 4 months with the skins in old oak vats. The wine then ages for around four years in barrel and two years in bottle before release after bottling without any added sulphur. 2015 is still powerful but also an elegant wine, with light aromatics, florality, nuttiness, spice and fine tannins – balanced with intense minerality.