Bianco Breg 2009 will be one of the last vintages produced by the winery.
Since 2012 probably the most famous wine producer in Italy has been focusing only on native varieties and on a new project, a vine-garden in Dedno.
Great decisions take time and develop silently and Joško Gravner, the founder of Gravner winery, began his career as a winemaker who employed the most updated cellar technology and then, slowly moved towards a nature-oriented approach. This meant going back to ancestral techniques: indigenous yeasts, no temperature control fermentation, long skin maceration, amphora ageing and lunar calendar rhythms.
Five years ago Joško further moved on with a decision he has been mulling over for many years. He stopped cultivating international grape varieties to better focus on two great native interpreters of the territory, white Ribolla grape and red Pignolo grape. It was 2012 and the decision marked the end of Bianco Breg.
Bianco Breg 2009, which has recently been released, is a blend of Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Italic Riesling. “It was a very dry vintage - recollects Joško Gravner - with a limited amount of rain during the autumn which did not allow “botrytis” to extensively develop on grapes”.
“On the contrary, 2005 has been a well-balanced vintage with regular rainfall throughout summer and autumn” explains Joško. The vintage is well portrayed by Rosso Breg 2005, now on sale, whereas Ribolla Riserva 2003 is now on the market. Gravner's Ribolla Reserve 2003, a selection made with the last grapes harvested in the two vineyards of Runk (Oslavia) from vines planted in 1915 and 1950 and is proposed only in the magnum version, more suitable for long refinements.
Both of the vineyards from which they come from were harvested immediately after harvesting to leave room for new ribola vines. A decision matured because the ground is full of poncel, a very compact clay. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, to add new vines without working the soil.
The Ribolla 2003 has remained in amphora for more than 10 months and for the first time among the wines of Gravner, it has been 6 years old in barrels before the bottling took place in 2010. Another 7 years of ageing in a bottle and the Ribolla 2003 is ready for the market.
"Even the 2017," continues Gravner, "was a special vintage with weather conditions that did not play in our favour: too many rains in the late September and early October rotten the grapes before they came to maturity".
Twenty years after the first small fermentation in the amphora that revolutionized the way of making and understanding the company's wine, Gravner this year only harvested botrytized grapes and the few grapes left intact. Very low harvest, probably for the first time in the company's history, only of sweet Ribolla.
"Even in this case - concludes Gravner - only time will tell us if we have made the right choice."
In the meantime, the new vineyard is getting ready. It extends over 8 hectares (about 20 acres) in Dedno, Slovenia, and it has been prepared for 17 years. Dedication and tenacity are the keywords for this visionary project. Dedno vineyard encompasses three artificial ponds and has required a significant landscape-architecture effort in order to create a vine-garden endowed with many tree species and a number of artificial bird nests as opposed to a more common plantation of vines only. The steep slopes have often forced Joško to work by hand and a landslip occurred in 2001 has further slowed down works.
Finally, the project is reaching its final stage. Last spring rootstock vines were planted and grafting will likely be carried out in a two years time, once the root system has adequately developed.