Stanislao Radikon (Stanko to his friends) knows how to grow grapes. His family has been doing it on their 11-hectare estate in the Friuli region of north-eastern Italy for over a century. Stanko began running the estate himself over 30 years ago and elevating its status immensely. The vineyards are densely planted (up to 10,000 plants per acre) on steeply sloped limestone and everything is done by hand, literally. Stanko does not use pesticides or synthetic fertilizers and keeps his yields under a paltry 2.25 tonnes to the acre. Basically, everything is in place to produce some of the greatest grapes on the planet, and they do, but it’s in the winery where Stanko Radikon has forged a reputation for himself as one of the most visionary winemakers in the world – and all because he barely does anything.
Working exclusively with natural products and eschewing additives entirely Radikon harvests by hand, has extended maceration times and lengthy skin contact on his whites, ferments long and slow with natural yeasts and uses no temperature control. His massive fermentation barrels are old and worn and act only as vessels, not flavour enhancers. The wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered and often show a hazy, brilliant orange colour in the glass. The white wines from Radikon are simply put some of the most compelling wines I have ever smelled or tasted.
They are grounded in the earth and smell more of fruit pit than fruit, or leaf and root than flowers – though it’s all there if you give it some attention. They are orange in colour, profoundly aromatic and have the density and texture of a red wine with the freshness and buoyancy of a white. Every wine drinker, and I mean every wine drinker, should drink a Radikon white at some point before they die. Drinking a Radikon provides an experience that, given the right person, will change not just your opinion of wine but probably of life too.
That’s right, if you let it, these wines could change your life. The first time I found the Ribolla Gialla from Radikon at a retail store I bought three with the intention of drinking one that week and holding on to the rest for a while. The first one was so compelling I drank them all that week. They are substantial, refreshing, moreish, and challenging. I was literally handed a new metric with which to evaluate what I thought wine was.
If I had to choose one wine to consume for the rest of my life Radikon would be a contender (though I could never actually choose). This excerpt translated from Radikon’s website gives some insight into the type of ‘wine’ Stanko is growing and making. Enjoy.
“Every vintage is a child of its time and the time that we give it to rest, to grow up and blow up those feelings in you that will bring back the sensory experience of the grape.”
Great words from a great man.
“Stanko Radikon makes some of the most unique wines in Friuli. His whites see an extended period of contact on the skins and are aged for several years in cask, an approach which in many ways makes them similar to red wines. These wines should be served at cellar temperature (not chilled) in large red wine glasses, which will allow for their full range of aromas to emerge. Readers should not be concerned with the amber hues these whites often display as the color is simply a result of the super-stripped down style. In recent years Radikon has also eliminated the addition of SO2 during bottling, making these some of the most natural, unmanipulated wines being made anywhere. Radikon bottles his new releases in 500ml and 1-liter bottles.”