Every week, I select an orange wine (a white wine made with extended skin contact) that grabbed my attention. View the whole series here.
Brothers Niccolò & Giorgio Bensa started bottling wine at this estate in Oslavia, Friuli Collio in 1985 – their reputation has built impressively ever since. Niccolò’s sons Stefano and Matteo are now involved too. The Bensas were part of the “Gravner group” during the late 1990s, which was so pivotal in reintroducing the traditional methods of extended skin contact and wild yeast ferments.
La Castellada doesn’t quite have the profile of neighbours Radikon and Gravner, perhaps as their chosen path is less extreme – the portfolio includes conventionally made wines (the whites are particularly outstanding) as well as the “orange” or skin-contact offerings.
Nonetheless, this 2009 Ribolla Gialla shows absolute mastery of Oslavia’s cherished variety and the extended skin maceration technique which is increasingly associated with this village.
The grapes stayed on their skins for two months, which has given the wine robust, nutty tannins. The nose is spicy, with some peach aromas and hints of marmalade, and there’s lively acidity to lift it all up. Ribolla Gialla can get quite dense and meaty, with extended skin contact, but La Castellada’s ’09 has real refinement and balance.
Stefano says “We can extract richness and flavour by using skin contact, that would be impossible otherwise”.
A superlative effort, drinking well now but with the potential to age for another decade or more. The only issue right now is tracking this wine down – currently I can only find it online from Italian retailers.
[…] s’en va où ici ? Je pense tout de suite : vin orange. Je lui verse un verre du Ribolla Gialla de Castellada. Le côté légèrement amer, le côté pêche-floral et la fraîcheur en bouche… Pourquoi pas ? […]