Every week, I select an orange wine (a white wine made with extended skin contact) that grabbed my attention. View the whole series here.
If you want to have a masterclass in how skin contact affects white wines, there’s probably no better place than Franco and Anna Sosol’s tasting room. Il Carpino is their 17ha estate, situated on the same winding hill road as Radikon and Gravner, in Friuli Collio.
Il Carpino is unusual in vinifying five separate varieties as both young, fresh wines and also in the extended skin contact style that’s traditional here. Tasting these wines in pairs is fascinating. Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay adapt wonderfully with maceration. Friulano seems more troublesome, at least at Il Carpino where the young fresh 2014 is lively and honeyed, but its macerated 2011 cousin is lacking in charm and a tad too oxidative.
The opposite is true with Ribolla Gialla, for me one of the most boringly neutral grapes when made as a simple, fresh wine – even Pinot Grigio has more character, in my humble. Yet leave it on the skins for a few days – well, 45 days at Il Carpino, and it’s transformed into a thrilling, complex beast.
The Ribolla Gialla 2011 is of course a young wine for this style, but all the components are there: the savoury, honeyed nose, fine nutty tannins and a herby, citrussy freshness. Ribolla Gialla is never big on fruit, but you don’t miss it – the texture, the balance and the structure are incredibly satisfying.
Having tasted the 2009 and 2004 vintages, I know that there’s much more to come – This is a wine well worth cellaring.
Franco started experimenting with macerating his Ribolla Gialla in 2002, and told me “with skin maceration, I feel like it’s the real wine – because we don’t intervene, we just let it express itself”. Viticulture and viniculture are fairly low intervention at Il Carpino, but the Sosols are not interested in organic certification – their view is shared by many small producers I’ve met in Italy: “Our work is what’s important – much more than a piece of paper”.
Il Carpino’s Ribolla Gialla is currently available for purchase only in Italy and Switzerland. Note that “Vigna Runc” is their line of fresh, young wines.