Radikon, made in the far-east of Venezia-Giulia, has to been tasted to be believed. It pioneered the movement towards both natural and orange wines. Everything about it is unique, from the bottle to the production method to the taste – it is truly an experience all wine-lovers should have. When the late Stanko Radikon began his stewardship of the 12 hectares of vineyards, which are located near the Slovenian border, he came to the conclusion that the local indigenous grape, Ribolla Gialla, needed to be treated differently to other varieties if it was to reach its full potential. So, he set about changing his methods. It was in 1995 that Radikon began using his grandfather’s method of vinification, which involved seven days of skin maceration and led to more colour and flavour making its way into the wine. After some refinement of the technique, today’s wines have three months of maceration, along with long periods of barrel and bottle ageing. Radikon also discovered that this long-term maceration led to a more robust wine, which also meant that by 2003 he was able to cut out the use of sulphites entirely. The specially designed bottles, introduced in 2002, also use high quality corks that avoid cork tainted wine. The grape selection process and low yields mean that only the very best berries are used. In a good vintage, it is usual for a whole vine to go into a single bottle. The result is unusual orange and red wines with astronomical complexity, high ageing potential and deep, wild, flavours.
If we were going to sell just one Pinot Grigio, arguably one of the more neutral, dare we say bland varietals, then this had to be the one. A world away from the more ubiquitous and ultimately characterless examples to be found gracing the shelves of the supermarket, Sivi shows what can be achieved with the grape when you avoid the industrial treatment and put it in more masterful hands. The wine has an interesting purple tint toward the edges of the glass, owing to the violet/grey skins of the grape. Complex aromas of citrus pith, flowers and spice burst from the glass with these notes carried through on its waxy, herbaceous palate. If you are new to the wines of Radikon, Sivi poses a welcoming entry-point.