This is the sort of natural wine that polarises people….you either sit in the WTF camp or dig it so deeply you try and reverse engineer it and go all cerebral on its ass….there is no middle ground. It’s like Jack Nicholsans’ character in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”……faking insanity to get into the asylum and then being constantly disruptive and pushing the boundaries once inside.
It’s a beast that turns all your pre-ordained perceptions of the liquid we all know and love as wine on its head…..and sometimes that can be a very cool thing. There’s a few other producers that elicit the same response….Gravner, Corneillissen, etc….. all fascinating wines but not exactly wines you’d want to pull out when the in laws come around to dinner.
It hails from the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia DOCG, where there is lots of funky stuff going on and the wine itself is classified as a Venezia-Giulia IGT and is made by Stanko Radikon.
Stanko’s grandfather originally planted the vineyards in Oslavia with the local Ribola Gialla variety, beofre Stank’s parents took over the property and replanted to Merlot, Tocai Friuliano and Pinot Grigio. The wines produced were pretty much, run of the mill, fruit driven numbers until 1995 when the production methods were altered and extended…..very extended macerations on skins for the whites were employed amongst various other tweaks.
The 2003 Oslavje is a blend of Chardonnay (40%), Pinot Grigio (30%) and Sauvignon (30%). The fruit is hand-picked in September and totally destemmed before macerating in old oak vats….the Pinot Grigio only see’s about 24hrs on skins before it is drained and the must is added to the Chardonnay and Sauvignon. After the wild alcoholic fermentation completes….the wine stays on its skins until the end of December.
The wine is then racked to large, old Slovanian oak casks where it remains for 36 months…it is then bottled without clarification, fining or filtration. No sulphur is added at all during the winemaking process or at bottling.
A Caveat….we probably tried this about 20 hrs to early….it had been sitting for about 2 hrs in the glass by the time I scoffed into it and had evolved a great deal in that time. I don’t know if you have ever tried a Coulee de Serrant from the Loire….similar sort of deal….they really need at least 24hrs in a decanter, sometimes longer before they show their best.
The colour is a light , burnished gold….like an apple cider vinegar kind of hue. Still a fair bit of volatility on the nose, candied citrus fruits, toffeed hints, marzipan, custard apple, dried honey, baked apples, minerals, candle wax, peach and spice. Very heady stuff.
Percussive and intense on the palate….nervy and twitchy peach, citrus and cherry fruits, wax, stone, citrus rind, spice, lemon and sandlewood….sweet tannin and a noticeable phenolic presence. It displays an earth-shattering, searing line of acid, long of finish and has the texture of a red wine on the mid & back palate.
There is a fair bit of variation between bottles of the Radikon wines, which is understandable considering the winemaking practises, transportation and storage issues involved….but strike a good bottle and it can be a captivating and thought provoking journey.