Robert Princic, Gradis’ciutta (Photo ©Tom Hyland)
At the recent Simply Italian event in Chicago a few weeks ago, several dozen vintners from Friuli were in attendance, pouring their newest releases. Many of the whites are from the splendid 2009 vintage, which may be ultimately judged as outstanding, given the excellent depth of fruit, finely tuned acidity and ideal structure these wines display. Among the most impressive were the bottlings of Collio Bianco from Edi Keber, the Sturm Sauvignon and the Zuani “Vigne”, a wonderful assemblage of Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Friulano aged solely in stainless steel. (Another excellent white sampled at the event was the 2007 Ribolla Riserva from Primosic, loaded with apple and spice notes and offering beautiful complexity.)
But for me the finest 2009 Friulian white at this tasting was the “Bratinis” from Gradis’ciutta. This Collio estate, owned by Robert Princic, has quietly become one of Friuli’s finest wineries over the past few years, as Princic’s whites have excellent varietal character, notable balance and excellent complexity. Princic sampled his 2009 Pinot Grigio as well as Ribolla Gialla, both fresh, fragrant and complete.
But with the Bratinis, the Gradis’ciutta wines really take a quantum leap. This blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon and Ribolla Gialla offers gorgeous aromas of white peach, green apples, chamomile and a hint of ginger; there is excellent concentration and complexity and the wine has a very long finish with vibrant acidity and a dynamic streak of minerality. This is wine that grabs your attention from the initial encounter with its perfumes to the complexity of its finish and its overall balance. It is a rich wine, but it is never over the top. Best of all, this wine was fermented and aged solely in stainless steel, which preserves its glorious aromatics and varietal identity. I tasted the 2008 with Princic at VinItaly in Verona this past April and rated it as excellent; I rate the 2009 version as outstanding. It has become in just a few years of production, one of Friuli’s most compelling blended whites.
One final note: The 2009 Gradis’ciutta Bratinis retails for approximately $20, which makes this wine a Great Value. I know only of one importer at current, Wine Emporium in Brooklyn. While they cannot sell to the public, you can go to their website where there is contact information; they can set you in the right direction to find this wine.