Orange wine is a controversial wine style that has a strong following in Australia right now. Interest seems to have grown parallel to the wild yeast, craft beer market that has boomed. Both these wild expressions of booze also have the most creative and crazy labels in the bottle shop. So whilst having the most modern looks, the wine in these bottles though is a traditional way of making “lo-fi wine” that has strong roots in Friuli Venezia Giulia where Stanko Radikon makes wine from organic fruit, wild yeast ferments, extended maceration, lees ageing, and without any sulfites. These are the techniques that bring unique palate notes to this style of wine.
The name Radikon is one that always sparks excitement in a wine-nerd, and whenever that happens I have to seek these wines out. Admittedly I was late to the party, but I got to try my first bottle of Ribolla Gialla 2009 at dinner with a very excited wine-nerd, we shared the wine with our waiter who also got the Radikon glint in her eyes.
Stanko Radikon bottled 36 vintages before he passed away September 2016 at the young age of 62 from cancer, and it is obvious he was a pioneer for wines of authenticity, and regional terroir character.
Stanko’s son Sasa takes over the Radikon reigns after working with his father for the past decade, and takes over the vines originally planted by his grandfather.
The Slatnik 2015 is a great changing-of-the-guard bottle, now in 750ml at the hands of Sasa, where Stanko always preferred the 500ml or 1L format. Although this is a funky, cloudy wine it is also a fine wine. No-one could confuse the non-interventional radical winemaking with a Wine fault as is often heard with some “natural wines”. The Slatnik is a cuvée of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Friulano. The Wine opens up over an hour. Aromatics of patchouli, bergamot, lavender, red berries, brine and rose petal intrigue the senses. There’s full, textural presence and balanced acidity with tea tannins and fruit/savoury notes of guava, nettles, preserved lemon and a long dry finish. If there’s nothing to talk about at the dinner table, open a bottle of Radikon and there will be plenty to discuss.