Italy’s 10 leading fine white wines

2. Gravner, 1993 Sauvignon Blanc

Josko Gravner copyGrape variety: Sauvignon Blanc

Region: Friuli-Venezia-Giulia

Classification: Collio Goriziano

Average price per bottle: £103

A final return to the Slavic/Germanic borderlands of Friuli now for a winemaker whose entire range is held in a mixture of awe and mild confusion.

Owner Josko Gravner was well known in the 1990s for his long maceration times and in 2001 he released the first of his wines macerated on their skins, in amphorae, a la Georgia’s winemakers, and then aged for a further six years in barrels and another year in bottle.

Gravner also works entirely in accordance with phases of the moon.

He resulting wines are, therefore, “unique” in every sense of the word. Robinson politely declares that they are “not for her”, while acknowledging their potential with food and gave the 1993 Sauvignon 17(!) points, while Galloni tends to be more positive in his reviews while simultaneously acknowledging that the huge following Gravner has in Italy can mean that the prices are “grossly out of line with respect to their quality/price rapport”.

Other fears rest on the notion that the thick, slightly oxidised characters – if not the slightly alarming orange hues – these wines exhibit obliterate any hint of terroir.

The Sauvignon takes the lead as it is the most expensive but there is similar enthusiasm among admirers for the, slightly cheaper, Breg (a mix of Chardonnay/Sauvignon Blanc/Riesling and Pinot Grigio, averaging £40 a bottle), Ribolla Gialla (from a Slavic/Mediterranean grape called Ribolla, £40 a bottle), and Pinot Grigio (£80), both their pre- and post- amphorae versions. These wines tend to gain better points.

From the website (which is just in Italian) and the review sites of Purple Pages and WA, it does not appear that the Sauvignon Blanc is made anymore, with only the 1993 making any kind of appearance.

If this is the case then that is likely the reason why it is so expensive.

10 Responses to “Italy’s 10 leading fine white wines”

  1. Raffaele Santoro says:

    bla bla bla.

  2. Vino in Love says:

    That list seems a little bit odd to me. Don’t forget about Verdicchio (some of the highest rated Italian white wines are produced with Verdicchio) , Cortese (Cortese is the grape for the world-famous Gavi) and Falanghina.
    Timorasso and Buriano are not really that common..

  3. James says:

    Won’t get that 3 minutes back. What a terrible and uninformative piece.

  4. Mila Dorosh says:

    Gaja’s Cabernet is “Darmagi!” – Giovanni Gaja’s comment on planting the vineyards with cab.

  5. Riccardo Margheri says:

    Of course, I do not pretend to know everything, but tasting hundreds of different Italian vine varietes during my work for the wine guides I collaborate with, I have never tasted a “Buriano”. If here it says that it is one of the main Italian whites, I should know about that… Nor I find any info on such topic on my books about autoctone varieties, nor on the web… If it really exist, and it is not a mistake of the article (many of its choices could be discussed anyway, as it always happens, as the SB and not the Ribolla for Gravner, or the Nova Domus and not the PG selection Vorberg for Terlano), may I get further infos please?
    Kind regards
    Riccardo Margheri

    • Rupert Millar says:

      The list is an attempt to highlight at least some of Italy’s leading fine white wines. It may perhaps have made more sense to just pick out producers that are particularly focused on white wines – but the point is to show the most expensive, which would generally imply some sort of appreciation in price and interested following of some description. Where a particular producer makes other wines (such as Terlano and Gravner’s other wines as you picked out), I have tried to make reference to them.

      Buriano is not a major variety, many Italian varieties are in no way ‘major’, the list of Italian grapes in the intro was just to show that of all the merchants I talked to, the suggestions they gave to join this list (which were extensive) encompassed every conceivable variety, big and small, that Italy has.

      I agree that the list is not perfect and open to discussion. Indeed, I hope it does provoke discussion as Italy produces some excellent white wines and I think they need greater exposure and appreciation. As you can see from the list many are incredibly well priced with regards to their quality.


  6. Riccardo Margheri says:

    Looks like Buriano was an ancient name used around XVI-XVII century to indicate some Tuscanian white variety. I am not able to find my Francesco Redi’s “Bacco in Toscana” copy in this moment, where the term is mentioned. But trust me, it is not used nowadays…

  7. Riccardo Margheri says:

    Believe me or not, Roberto, I see Your post only now, after more than one year (I hadn’t realised I would not have received an automatic alert about answers to my post!!). And when I made the obvious researches on the web before replying to tDB, You hadn’t published yet Your article about the Michi wines on the AIS site. Nor I have had the occasion to taste the Buriano in some Montecarlo event (maybe because the production is tiny?). Said that, and with all the respect for the Michi work, listing Buriano between the 10 Italian leading whites continues to be a little bit too much :-), IMHO of course. And if this come from the importers’ opinion, as explained in the kind reply to my post (thanks for the interest), I of course appreciate their effort to explore something brand new, but even I recommend not to stop…
    @Rupert: any effort to make evident that Italy produces great, enjoyable whites is great, so thank You!! 🙂
    Kind regards ad cheers
    Riccardo Margheri

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