Posts tagged ‘radikon’
The author pictured with the other four recipients of the 2013 Premio Collio
I’ve been a fortunate individual to have traveled to Italy so often and to have tasted so many great wines and more importantly, meet so many gracious, warm people. Each one of my 59 trips has been special, but perhaps none as memorable as the most recent to Collio, where I received the Premio Collio.
This award is given out each year by the Collio Consorzio to a few select journalists and wine professionals who have done the most to promote the wines of this beautiful district in the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia. Collio is situated in the southeastern portion of Friuli, in the province of Gorizia and shares part of its border with Slovenia. This area is blessed with rolling hills (the word collio means “hill” in Italian) and is a marvelous climate for grape growing, as there are breezes from the nearby Adriatic Sea as well as winds from the Julian Alps that help moderate temperatures, ensuring a slow, even ripening that results in wines with excellent natural acidity, pronounced aromatics and ideal structure. The cool climate here is ideal for vibrant white wines, although there are also some excellent red wines from Collio as well.
I was given the award for the section on the wines of Collio in my recently published book Beyond Barolo and Brunello: Italy’s Most Distinctive Wines. I wrote about selected wines from more than 20 producers in Collio; these included famed estates such as Marco Felluga, Schiopetto and Radikon. Individual wines included some very famous offerings such as the Edi Keber Collio (Bianco, though he chooses not to label it that way) and Villa Russiz Sauvignon “De la Tour” along with underrated bottlings such as the Gradis’ciutta “Bratinis” and the Primosic “Klin.”
I decided that I would give my acceptance speech in Italian, as I thought that was the proper thing to do. After more than fifty trips to Italy, I have a good foundation in Italian, though I am certainly not fluent in the language. I’m sure if I lived there for an extended period of time, that would be different, but for now, I can understand and speak Italian, relatively well.
Giving my acceptance speech in Italian for the Premio Collio. Tania Princic, who helped me with the translation, is to my right.
I speak often in seminars to the trade and public about Italian wines, but this night was very different, as I would be speaking to 125 locals in the wine business, so needless to say, I was a bit nervous. Prior speaking helped me overcome my nerves to a large degree, but it will still a unique experience that I hadn’t done before. Thankfully, Tania Princic, who works with the public relations group for Collio helped me to translate my speech into Italian just a short while before the event.
Now combine that with the fact that I had to wait more than an hour and a half and you can imagine that I was getting a little more nervous by the moment. But I made it through without too many mistakes (I did mess up a word or two) and the audience gave me a warm reception. I’m sure they appreciated my gesture of speaking in Italian and I’m glad I did as well, as it will help me prepare for the next time I need to give another speech in Italy.
I thought I’d close with the last paragraph of my speech, first in Italian and then translated into English.
“Non ho ancora visitato il Collio quanto mi sarebbe piaciuto, ma grazie alla ospitalita e la qualita dei vostri vini, vi guarantisco che ritorno molto presto.”
“I have not visited Collio as often as I would have liked, but thanks to your hospitality as well as the quality of your wines, I guarantee I will return very soon.”
Thank you very much to the producers of Collio for giving me this award. I am honored and I will certainly not only visit again soon, but will also continue to promote these wonderful wines any way I can! A special thank you also to Alessandra Gruppi and Veronica Brumat for their help organizing my trip.
Stanko Radikon (Photo ©Tom Hyland)
Here is a partial list of my selections as the best Italian producers of the year. I’m only including a few in this post, given space limitations, so I have balanced the list according to several factors, including region as well as the notoriety of the wines produced (famous versus famous):
RADIKON • Friuli
Stanko Radikon makes wines with a fierce independent streak and it shows in his whites and reds, such as the marvelous 2005 Ribolla Gialla with its orange color and baked pear flavors and his 1997 Merlot (yes, that’s the current release!), a wine that spent two and one-half months on the skins and was then aged in 5 year old barrels. The wines are singular!
CA RUGATE • Veneto
Ca’ Rugate has been one of the leading producers of Soave Classico for several years now; the fruit from their beautifully managed organic estate is superb. The simple “Monte Fiorentine” bottling is always one of the best values of its type (generally priced about $16 or $17), while the “Monte Alto” bottling takes a different direction, as it is aged in barrique. Also, once again their Recioto di Soave “La Perlara” is among the very finest of this marvelous dessert wine.
Lately winemaker Michele Tessari has been crafting some gorgeous reds as well from the Valpolicella district. For those who think Amarone has to sacrifice fruit aromas at the sake of spice, you need to taste the current 2007 Ca’ Rugate Amarone, a bright, fruit-driven wine with elegant tannins and subtle spice. Tessari also makes a lovely regular Valpolicella (labeled Rio Albo) that is fresh, fruity and delicious! (It’s becoming more and more difficult to find a well-made Valpolicella these days that isn’t in the ripasso style, so look for this bottling.)
CASCINA ROCCALINI • Piemonte
I’ve written several posts about this new producer in Barbaresco; owner Paolo Veglio used to sell his grapes to Dante Scaglione, when he was winemaker at Bruno Giacosa – now the grapes are used for Paolo’s own wines. Amazing 2008 Barbera d’Alba and gorgeous 2008 Dolcetto d’Alba. I’ve tasted the 2009s and they are equally as good – in fact they may even be better! The 2008 Barbaresco, to be released next year, is subllime with lively acidity, rich persistence and a beautiful sense of terroir. The common theme here is minimal influence by the winemaker and no barrique aging – either aging in steel or in botti grandi. These are wines of great structure that communicate a sense of place.
ANTONIO CAGGIANO • Campania
Nino Caggiano continues to produce vibrant wines from Avellino, including Fiano, Greco and of course, his beloved Taurasi. Credit to him for making such a reasonably priced Aglianico in “Tauri”, a nice introduction to this grape and place. His signature “Vigna Macchia dei Goti” Taurasi is always excellent and he made a particularly first-rate bottling from the 2006 vintage, a less than stellar year. Medium-full with excellent persistence, the wine has rich, ripe black cherry and chocoalte flavors with subtle oak and beautifully balanced tannins.
BELLAVISTA • Lombardia
One of the great houses of Franciacorta, Bellavista really delivered the goods this past year. Every example of Franciacorta here is excellent, especially the Gran Cuvée bottlings. The Gran Cuvée Saten, made from 100% Chardonnay, is vibrant, bright, delicious and beautifully structured. The Pas Opere, a blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Nero, takes things up a notch; this has remarkable persistence and richness on the palate.
Most impressive is the “Vittorio Moretti” bottling; named for the winery owner, this is made only in the finest vintages. I tasted the 2002 bottling (only the sixth time this wine had been produced, the first was in 1984) and was in a word, stunned at the quality of this wine. Made from equal part of Chardonnay and Pinot Nero sourced from the finest estate cru, the wine has a brilliant look in the glass with very fine bubbles and a persistent perlage. My original notes refer to the amazing aromas of yeast, lemon rind, dried pear and quince; the finish is extremely long with lively acidity. From start to finish, this offers excellent complexity.
I tried this with winemaker Matteo Vezzola at VinItaly this past April and told him that while I think Franciacorta should stand on its own, I couldn’t help but compare this to Taittinger Blanc de Blancs; he was quite pleased with my assessment! While I am not in the practice of writing that one wine is the “best” of anything, this bottling stands out as one of the most complete and complex offerings of Franciacorta I have ever tried!