Gravner: Going Back to the Origin of Wine

Posted by CrushWine

"Gravner continues to cast a large presence in the region, continually pushing the envelope with his wines and significantly influencing the younger generation of producers." - Wine Advocate

We come full circle this week.

Today we go to Friuli, the far northeast of Italy, to provide the ultimate bookend to this week of free-thinking, fiercely independent winemaking on the edge of everything... well ... comprehensible?

We'll spend more time than usual today trying to detail Gravner's 2002 Breg, as the wine so transcends easy categories and easy words. There are no Cliff's Notes offered for Gravner, no shortcuts. (Undoubtedly, this is one of the charms.)

The 2002 Breg is a blend of Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Riesling Italico, though if ever there was an example of that saying, "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts," this wine is it. Gravner is famous for his severe philosophical evolutions over the last decade and his decision in 2001 to begin fermenting his wines in large clay amphora (going back to the origin of wine, he says, see here), yet among his fellow winemakers he is probably better known for the extreme rigor in the vineyards. His terraced, old-vine sites are simply meticulously kept; yields are very low.

This means that the Breg, on the palate, has an evocative density to it, both hefty, creamy and billowy at the same time. Extended skin contact accentuates this effect and the Breg certainly belongs in that category of white wine that drinks to some effect like a red wine. Galloni, in his review for the Wine Advocate, writes of "finessed tannins."

Important Note: Those of you expecting an easy-going fruit forward summer sipper like Caymus Conundrum will be sharply disappointed, however, anyone who buys in to the greatness of diversity of flavor will be richly rewarded.

2002 is only Gravner's second vintage using clay amphora to ensconce his fermenting wines and his learning curve has been sharp. If 2001 (which we happily sold and enjoyed) expressed the first yearnings toward this style, the 02 Breg is certainly more considered and complete. The flavors are more intense, deeper and better integrated with a dizzying medley of stone fruit, spice and perfume.

While the flavors are intense, a defined and individual clarity to each note isn't the point at all. Instead, when a Gravner bottlings is "on," there is a very intense integration of all the elements - fruit, earth, mineral - that morphs into something wider, broader, deeper. A mash-up of textured flavors that are natural and evocative, yet very, very hard to explain...with words at least. And this, is some of the magic.

It should also be stated that Gravner's wines evolve like mad in the glass, and we agree with Galloni that decanting is not usually a good idea. Best to just pop the cork and enjoy the ride - keep in mind that the ride can last many hours so don't hesitate to re-cork, put the bottle back in the fridge and revisit over the next day or two or three...

As cerebral as these Gravner's wines can be, they are also just tremendously fun to drink, so don't skip this offering just because you're not working on a dissertation regarding the molecular composition of the atomic explosion and its implications for international derivatives trading. A magnum of the 2002 Breg was taken to the wedding of a friend in the wine business, and among the "grand" bottlings open (lots of Dom Pérignon, old Barolo from G. Conterno and old Rayas), the Gravner was one of the more popular wines. (A few magnums of the 2002 Breg, by the way, are also available, please inquire.)

The 2002 Breg is in stock now! To order, please call us at (212) 980-9463 or click below: