1. Radikon: This was my 2'nd experience w/ a Radikon wine. Very much like the first. Last
March, afore RhoneRangers, I had dinner at PerBacco. There was a group of obvious wine geeks at a nearby table. They ordered a white wine that the somm brought out, decanted, and sloshed around. They all got a 2-3 oz pour of the wine after 15 min or so of breathing.
It was clear from the looks on their faces and their rush to move on to the next wine that they were not impressed. The decanter was left half full. Unable to restrain myself (a lifelong problem), I took my half-drunk btl of Marzeminno over to their table and asked what the white (or brown) wine was and if they'd like to swap tastes w/ mine. Offer easily accepted. They told me it was a Radikon, a legendary wine I had never tasted but always wanted to.
My reaction to it was much like the note above. Radikon makes his wines by very strange methods. No sulfites during fermentation or bottling. Extended macerations. Long aging in barrels. Asimov, in his blog, claims the Radikon wines are NOT oxidized and his techniques makes them resistant to oxidation, even w/o sulfites. Whatta crock of merde. It smells and tastes like some/many of the oxidized wines I've had over the yrs. I left the btl standing on the counter for several days with about a third of the wine remaining. It did not change substantially over that period.
So...did I like the wine??? Were I served it blind, I would have dismissed it immediately as badly oxidized and probably dumped it out. It was probably one of the lousiest examples of what I recognize as Friulian white wines I've ever had. But this all illustrates the fallacy of blind tasting and the importance of knowing what you're tasting so you can modify your expectations of the wine. Knowing it was a Radikon, that I'd a bit of experience with before, I actually liked it on some sort of intellectual level. It was Radikon speaking to me that this is what he thinks Friulian wine should be. And I could appreciate that message. Had I chosen a Friulian dish that goes with a typical Friulian white, I would have disliked the wine. But, knowing what it was, I think I could probably come up with some dish with which I would have actually enjoyed the wine. Most people, were they served this blind, would immediately reject it as an oxidized white wine. However, if they were told that famous authorities regarded this as one of Friuli's great white wines, would have praised it to the skies. It's all about expectations and knowing what a wine is "supposed" to be like.
So...did I like the Radikon wine?? On a certain intellectual level I did. It was certainly
interesting and had a lot of things going on it it. It was a pretty weird/bizarre wine that I could appreciate for what it was. Most of my tasters thought it pretty oxidized, did not
like it, and shook their head's in puzzlement at this, supposedly one of Friuli's great white
wines. OTOH, maybe the emperor wears no clothes. OTOOH, maybe Radikon simply marches to the beat of a different drummer. I'm clueless, as usual.
2. Scarpetta: This is a wine that Bobby and Lachlan but some barrels of and had bottled w/ their label and imported into Colorado. I tried it up there at Frasca a month ago and liked it OK, but just that. This btl seemed somewhat better. "Servicable" would be a good description.
The label has a big porker on it in reference to the importance of pig parts in the cusine
of Friuli. The Scarpetta (little shoe) is in reference to breaking up the crust of bread &
dipping into your soup because it looks like a little shoe.
If you've not eaten at their restaurant (Frasca) in Boulder, specializing in Friulian cusine, then you've really missed out. Working w/ fresh/local ingredients (I know...seems to be trivialized these days), Lachlan is turning out some incredible Friulian-inspired food; food as good as any Italian food I've had at any restaurant in the USofA. It's one of America's great Italian restaurants. And Bobby and somm Matthew have put together an incredible and reasonably priced wine list; focused mostly on Friuli and other Italian wines, a bit of Calif, and a smattering of other wines from throughout the world. It's a place not to miss. Getting
reservations can be a problem.
3. Slovenia: I've always had a fond spot in my heart for Slovenia because of the two professors from Instut Josef Stefan/Ljubliana I worked under at K-State. One of my Slovene classmates is now Minister of Energy for Slovenia. But pretty much all the wines I've had from Slovenia have been amazingly good. Particularly the ones of Edi Simcic. I believe that many of the Friulians think that the best grapes in their region are grown across the border in Slovenia
and that a lot of those grapes make their way into the Friulian wines. Never done see'd,
though, a Slovenian red.
4. Crimea: This is a wine Roman brought to share in honor of his being named a Lab Fellow. He
had picked it up when he was back there visiting family, but had not tried it. It was an
impressive example of an aged Muscat. The label was entirely in the Cyrillic alphabet, so I could not glean much info from it.
5. Osborne 1827: This wine was originally brought into the USofA by Darrell Corti back in the
late '70's (that would be 1970) when he was visiting the Osborne Cellars and stumbles upon
several large barrels of this PX that was labeled 1827 and was essentially of that vintage.
He convinced the Osborne folks to bottle up a few cases of it and sold it as the Osborne
Venerable 1827 in the high teens$$. I bought severl btls then and was simply incredible; one
of the most powerful/intense/complex wines I've ever had. When he did that again, the price
had jumped up to around $60 or so. It came with a tan/buff colored label w/ black lettering.
When I was shopping in Calif recently, I stumbled across a few btls of this on the shelf
at this incredible $17 price. My eyes light up. This was near Darrell's original price and
I figured a few btls of that original import must have made it down here. Except..the label
was not the original buff color but off-white. But I had to try it, so bought one. The wine did not disappoint. Huge/powerful PX but it didn't quite have the power and complexity of Darrell's original import. It's a steal at $17. A subsequent phone call to Darrell (he refuses to do e-mail, doesn't even have a computer in his office...very quaint) confirmed that this was not his original stuff. Apparently the Osborne people are now shipping this PX that is only soleraed from that original stash Darrell found. Still, even if it is fraudulent, it's pretty terrific PX.