T-Day with two odd Italians
I found these two bottles on a lark; the likelihood of my finding and being able to afford such an eccentric luxury would otherwise be jack-squat. They sat on the shelves of the retail store for which I slave, having been completely ignored, for years, finally ending up drastically discounted. I'm sure a previous buyer thought there would be that one guy or gal for whom obscure Italian wine is an obsession, who had searched hi and lo for them and would be thrilled that we, of all stores, carried a bottle. As it turns out, it was a major score for me.
1997 Gravner Ribolla Gialla
Josko Gravner received little attention for his wines prior to 1997, when he began experimenting with terracotta amphora, lined with beeswax, as fermentation containers. He did three wines thusly, including the otherwise often dull, lo-alcohol ribolla gialla grape that is found only in the little coastal crescent of Collio, in Friuli.
I searched the web over for notes about this wine, but what few notes on the ribolla I found were all subsequent vintages.
This kind of wine was meant to age, but perhaps not too much longer than ten years. I don't have a lot of experience with deciding when strange Italian whites are losing it, but this wine seemed to me to be a stout pube away from showing oxidation. Nevertheless, the aromas were heady and rich, full of honey, smoke, and nutmeg. On the palate, the flavors of cream, lanolin, almonds and honey, and a baby-ass soft texture, finishing with a red clay minerality.
Around the time my sprouts were just about brusseled, we popped the next odd little princess. Who pays eighty bucks for a 6 year- old, weirdo Rose from Abruzzo? Me! When it's 75% off, that is.
This wine is lauded as one of Italy's finest roses. The nose on this wine is beautiful and complex: little pink blossoms and wee shreds of orange peel, dusted with meditteranean spices. It had that mineral activity that seems almost like a hint of a fizz, and a distinct coppery note that I found very strange. To be honest, I wasn't sure what to make of this wine, but it paired just fine with ripped-off bits of ham.