Radikon "Oslavje" (500ml)
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Radikon is without a doubt one of the greatest "natural" wine producers in the world. In the rolling hills of Collio in the northern Italian region of Venezia Giulia, Stanko Radikon, along with iconic neighbors like Josko Gravner and Edi Kante and Movia, helped create a movement by exploring indigenous varietals made with prolonged skin contact and avoiding the use of sulfur. Sulfur is, of course, used in almost all great wines in the world because it protects the wine from spoilage and oxidation. Making wine without sulfur is incredibly risky and takes the utmost care and dedication to cleanliness. Unfortunately many wines that are sold as "natural" smell like a bacterial soup. But not Radikon. I have never tasted a bad bottle of Radikon. They are remarkably consistent, which is an incredible achievement that owes to Stanko's relentless perfectionism.
Stanko started making wines in 1979 and for 36 vintages relentlessly strove to create uncompromising wines. His style evolved a great deal over his career, eventually returning to the winemaking style of his grandfather. In 1995, he decided to reintroduce this long skin contact maceration in his wines and abandoned the use of all chemicals, which at the time was fairly controversial. His reasoning was that, for skin contact wines, where the skins play the fundamental part in the wine, the juice could not be macerated if pesticides were present on the skins. This skin contact advanced as time went on, with many of his cuvées now seeing 30 days on the skins.
Stanko's imagination was not limited to winemaking. He also decided that that the conventional 750 milliliters was not the right size for his unsulfured wines. For two people who may like to share a white and a red with dinner, he reasoned, 500 milliliters was a much better size, so his unsulfured wines were produced in half-liters or liters.
Unfortunately, Stanko died in 2016, but the estate has remained in family hands and is now helmed by Stanko's son Saša, who has worked side by side with his father since he was a boy.
Oslavje is 60% Chardonnay/40% Sauvignon Blanc. All of Radikon's whites are made in the same way: the organically farmed, stunningly low-yield, hand-harvested fruit is destemmed and gently crushed with a pneumatic press. The grapes are placed in old Slavonian oak vats and co-fermented with native yeasts. Maceration with the skins lasts about 3 months—however long it takes to reach total dryness--with no temperature control and no sulfur. The wine is racked and aged on its lees in huge Slavonian oak casks (25-35-hectoliter) for 3-4 years, racked twice a year. The wine is then bottled without sulfur and without filtration. The bottles are aged for several years before release.