DoBianchi X saignée X Josko Gravner, an Orange Wine Evening
To say that Jeremy Parzen (nay, Dr. Jeremy Parzen, given his PhD in Italian) is a renaissance is somewhat cliché at this point. Translator of works of Italian scholarship and 18th century novels, wine broker to the soon-to-be country of Texas, guitar player for French rock band Nous Non Plus, author of DoBianchi, and bon vivant, Jeremy lives a life that is, well, pretty fucking cool.
On Thursday of last, Jeremy and his bandmates were in San Francisco as part of a three city swing, and in between sound check and the show we met up to talk wine, Mark Twain, more wine, Italian pronunciation, and wine again. As you may know last week witnessed the passing of Miha Gravner so in his honor we opened a bottle of 2002 Ribolla Gialla Anfora from Friuli in Italy, made by his father, Josko Gravner. Gravner’s white wines, for the uniniated, are some of the world’s most idiosyncratic, thought provoking wines. Josko himself is a part of a informal group of winemakers exploring the fringes of wine (they have unfortunately been named “extreme” winemakers by some, which hearkens back to mid 90s No Fear tee shirt slogans) that includes several other Friulian wine makers. Josko ferments his grapes on their skins for extended periods of time in ancient (style) clay amphorae, a process that leaves them deeply colored, more tannic than other whites, and all around strange. Jeremy summed up the wine best:
“the Gravner is an “abstract” wine, a wine (in a certain sense) that you cannot drink. There’s no question that Gravner’s wines are fascinating, thought-provoking, and intriguing: as the wine aerated it revealed a remarkable array of fruit aromas — think dried and moldy apricot (but in the mouth, it still felt to me like the wood dominated).”
This was a wine for talking about, dissecting, mulling over, pondering, and not simply enjoying,or not enjoying, as the case may be, the wine can provoke strong opinions. Luc Erotran, proprietor of Terroir, made the point that Gravner’s wines weren’t specifically Friulian, nor was this wine really from Ribolla Gialla in a sense. It was Gravner’s wine, that it had it’s origin with Gravner and Gravner alone.
From there we spun off into conversations (and tastings) about various “orange wines,” which are wines made in this style are called, given their color and their orange rind nose. The concept of terroir versus winemaker versus grape versus style versus all four together was invoked again, we argued wine preferences, Jeremy explained what he though spergola grapes really are, and we learned that the name DoBianchi is his homage to Mark Twain (i’ll let him explain these two if he comments). A bottle of the rare Ca de Noci Notte di Luna made its way into our glasses a wine which has a lightness and freshness that is in direct opposition to the brooding seriousness of the Gravner (the Notte di Luna is fast becoming one of my favorite wines, having tried three spectacular bottles now). We also tasted someDamijan another Friulian producer, and California’s newest skin fermented Chardonnay, from the NPA.
So what did i think of the Gravner overall? It really doesn’t matter. It’s a wine that you should seek out and try, give it some time to work though your senses and hopefully you’ll have something to talk about, like it or not. Until then: