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Friuli is special. It's where the old Austrian empire ran into Italy, and where the Eastern Bloc of the Cold War met the West. It's also where the earth enjoys an unusually dense patch of... Read More
Friuli is special. It's where the old Austrian empire ran into Italy, and where the Eastern Bloc of the Cold War met the West. It's also where the earth enjoys an unusually dense patch of limestone, and a climate ideal for producing fresh white wines and late-ripening red varieties. No wonder that—since long before Sicily emerged on the world stage—Friuli has been a center for experimenting, for natural winemaking, and for simply making lots of delicious wines.
Everybody associates all this with Gravner, and his bold, frankly tannic orange wines that shocked the wine world when they first appeared. Some others have followed in his direction, but with variations on the theme. Neal Rosenthal—importer of Cappellano, Bea and other great nature-focused Italian wines—has discovered a new one and just brought him to market.
Benjamin Zidarich is definitely nature-focused. He farms biodynamically. In the winery he makes his white wines naturally and orange—there is some skin contact—but with a much gentler approach that you find at Gravner.
You see this in the color. The orange hue is obvious only when you hold the glass up to the light. You get this in the taste. While many orange wines emphasize fruit peel and tannic power, that stuff is just an afterthought in Zidarich's wines, where you really get far more focus on minerality and the flavor of the grape variety.