Tasked with presenting an ‘interesting or unique’ wine to my grandfather, I settled on the 2003 Gravner Breg. This was my first foray into ‘natural’ wines, which in essence are wines made like they were 2000 years ago in roman days (and possibly even earlier, ala the ancient middle east). This wine was made up of 4 different white grapes, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, and Pinot Grigio, all mashed up together and thrown into a clay anfore (a kind of clay pot) lined with beeswax. Initial maceration is done for 6 months, then the grapes are pressed and transfered to giant oak casks. No added yeast, only natural yeast. Racked once a year. The wine is orange.
We drank it chilled, which only after we tried it did I discover it’s intended to be drank warm. I find the obsession with perfect temperature a little much in the wine-drinking world (or at least people’s obsession with it) but this bottle probably really would have benefitted from not being chilled. Oh well. It had a very light flavor of classic Sauvignon Blanc, crisp with nothing too distinct, followed by a vegetal, slightly bitter, downright pungent finish. The interwebs said to pair it with artichoke and asparagus, so I did. It was interesting, but at the pricepoint I paid for it (do a search), it really didn’t blow me away. If anything it really lacked flavor and intrigue, for how much damn work (or lack of) went into making it. It was like drinking cold water that smashed out with an acidic, disjointed, tannic finish. Burnt hair and forest floor. I pulled out some interesting flavors in the mid-palate, a tinge of cranberry, a smidge of melon rind. The wine definitely did better paired with food, but it always ended on a tongue twisting note that just left me wanting more. With the blend of grapes I figured it would in some way celebrate characteristics from each, but it didn’t.
I might take another stab or two at ‘natural’ wines, but probably only with the winemaker at whatever chateau has the balls to do it. So far interesting, but not interesting enough to seek out and find, and definitely not at this price point. I really wanted to like this wine from all I heard and read about it, but I have to be honest and call this a bit of a flop. There are tons of interesting wines being made out there I’d recommend grabbing first.