Italian Pick of The Week: Josko Gravner
Ascevi 2005 Sauvignon Blanc “Ronco die Sassi”, Collio DOC, Friuli
French varietals have a long history in Italy, most notably in Friuli. Commitment to producing monovarietal white wines has put a uniquely Italian stamp on those grapes and reflects the cross cultural influences that have informed modern Friulian winemaking.
The Ascevi winery is located in a small village near the Slovenian border, surrounded by decidedly non-Italian neighbors such as Josko Gravner, Radikon, and Tercic. Though part of the Collio Goriziano, proximity to the higher saline content and moderating breezes of the northern Adriatic have imbued their wines with a saltiness sometimes found in maritime climates.
A point of interest in this wine is the disconnect between nose and palate. While there is a Sancerre-like herbacity, musky grassiness, and even a whiff of overly ripe grapefruit, the palate is more tropical and vaguely sweet. A veil of chalkiness on the fruit cannot hold off the repeated tang of salinity – in fact, they play off each other to good effect. The finish is soft and round in spite of persistantly juicy, citric acidity.
Line this up with the usual suspects from the Loire and a Marlborough Sauv and its singular, terroir induced expression of a too often pedestrian grape becomes evident.