The Wine: Ribolla Gialla 2016
Dario Princic Ribolla Gialla is a skin contact natural wine, 100% Ribolla Gialla from Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Spontaneous fermentation with native yeasts, 21 days of skin contact, bottled unfiltered, and unfined.
Dario Princic has now for many years been a paradigmatic example and guiding light when it comes to masterful orange wines from Friuli-Venezia Giulia's Collio subregion, as well as being one of the most revered producers of this hallowed style in the whole world. Dario likes to call himself an “artisan of wine” and we agree but his shimmering, character-filled, and mind-numbingly complex wines manage to seamlessly unite the artisan dimension with that of pure art.
Long before natural wines were even called that, way back in 1993, Dario was working like he is now, according to the strictest and purest vinnaturist ethos, in the village of Oslavia, a stone’s throw from the Slovenian borders in the famed Collio area of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. His estate, composed of soils mainly of ancient clay-limestone, extends for about 10 hectares of steeply terraced vineyards surrounded by verdant woods.
Using only minimal quantities of sulfur and copper – well below the limits of organic and biodynamic certifications – he works with the typical local varieties such as Ribolla Gialla, Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio, Friulano, and Chardonnay for the whites, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon for the reds.In the cellar fermentation only happens spontaneously with native yeasts and can extend for as long as nature demands, with long skin contact for both white and red wines. No degrading fining or filtrations are to be found.
All wines see long aging both in used French barriques and in barrels crafted by Dario himself made from local wood. Princic wines are never released until Dario deems the time to be just right. In each and every bottle we find an uncompromising love for his hallowed terroir and the uncanny ability to squeeze the very soul out of it.
Dario Princic Ribolla 2016 is a true powerhouse, an orange wine with a potential Highlander-life ahead of it. It sees about 21 days of glorious skin contact and sings otherworldly runes of fresh jackfruit with saffron and turmeric, braised persimmon with Oolong tea, and striking minerality.
The Region: Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Friuli Venezia Giulia has become in recent years one of the most important wine-producing regions in the world. Winemaking and viticulture have reached levels comparable to that of major European wine regions such as the Mosel in Germany and the Loire Valley in France.
Friuli Venezia Giulia's wine landscape is a mosaic of international and native grape varietals. Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot are counterpointed by local heroes Pinot Grigio, Picolit, Friulano, Verduzzo, Ribolla Gialla, and Schioppettino.
Diversity is indeed the quintessential character of Friuli Venezia Giulia: a border region which throughout history has seen a commingling of peoples, cultures, and languages. Friuli Venezia Giulia's Italian, Austrian, and Slovenian influences are evident in architecture, literature, and of course winemaking and viticulture.
Friuli Venezia Giulia borders with Trentino-Alto Adige (north-west), Veneto (south-west), Austria (north), Slovenia (west) and gets its name from the merger of Friuli region and Venezia Giulia, a region encompassing parts of Italy, Croatia, and Slovenia. The capital of Friuli Venezia Giulia is the seaport city of Trieste, located near the border with Slovenia.
The Terroir of Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Friuli-Venezia Giulia displays a variety of microclimates, from the cold pre-alpine climate in the eastern part of the region, following the Julian Alps, to the Mediterranean climate characterizing the southern flatlands.
Wines from Friuli-Venezia Giulia are heavily influenced by the region's position, squeezed as it is between the Alps and the Adriatic sea. Freshness, good acidity, and finesse are some of their main characteristics.
Soil composition varies depending on the sub-region, but perhaps the most typical is represented by Marl and sandstone - also known as "flysch" or with the local term "Ponca", which is found in the Collio area.
The Red Wines of Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Friuli-Venezia Giulia red wine production is often obfuscated by its world-class white wine production. However, in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, along with native varietals such as Ribolla Nera and Schioppettino, we can find some of the best Italian expressions of red wines made from international varietals.
In recent years, more and more producers have been experimenting with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and also Pinot Noir. The quality of Friuli-Venezia Giulia winemaking is so consistent across the board that international varietals give some of the best red wines made in the region.
The White Wines of Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Friuli-Venezia Giulia is regarded as one of the top wine producing regions for white wines not only in Italy but also worldwide. All three DOCGs are white wines - Ramandolo DOCG, Picolit DOCG, Rosazzo DOCG. Some of the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world is produced in the Collio wine region, near the city of Gorizia, on the border with Slovenia, and the Grave DOC appellation.
Furthermore, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, together with neighboring Slovenia, is the mecca for orange wine lovers. Some of the techniques pioneered by winemakers from Friuli-Venezia Giulia are extended maceration on the skins and the use of amphorae.