2017 Denis Montanar 'San-Drigo' Friulano
Region: Udine < Friuli Venezia Giulia < Italy
Vineyard/cellar stats: Certified organic/no till/regenerative farming; member of Renaissance des Appellations; clay and sand soils; grapes are directly pressed and the free-run juice is naturally fermented in closed steel tanks for 8 months on the fine lees; bottled unfined/unfiltered with no added So2; zero-zero; 12.5% ABV
Winemaker: Denis Montanar
Denis Montanar is a 4th gen winemaker (and staunch no till/regenerative farmer) in the northeastern Italian region of Friuli, near Trieste. Denis started producing wine in 1989, mostly sourcing from his family vineyards which date back to the 1900's. The estate, located in the small hamlet of Borc Dodon in Udine, is planted with 10.5 hectares of vines in addition to fields of ancient grains wheat, corn, buckwheat and medicinal herbs. He is completely hands off in the vineyards, avoiding even tilling of the soil, because he practices regenerative farming which dictates that working the soil destroys the microbial network beneath and the nutritive cover crops above, both of which are essential for optimal vine health.
Once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and an important stop on the Mediterranean spice route from the the Byzantine empire to the trading center of Venice, Friuli Venezia Giulia is brimming with history and complex cultural influences. Travelers from near and far traveled through the region, bringing with them pieces of their homeland, including grapevines -- at one point there were close to 350 different varietials grown in the area. These early exposures to diversity influenced the region's inclination towards innovation. In the early 60's, Friuli was already making some of the best white wines in Italy, utilizing techniques that limited oxidation and promoted freshness -- not necessarily the norm in Italy at the time. Led by natty wine pioneers like Gravner and Radikon in the 90's, winemakers here also embraced low-intervention winemaking and skin contact or 'orange wines'.
'San-Drigo' is not on the orange spectrum, but it is electric and alive, more so than perhaps any wine we've tasted. Laser sharp, floral, earthy and herbal all at once, it is heavy on the citrus peel that balance more textured tropical notes, white flowers and an unexpected hit of lemon grass. A supremely versatile wine, this will sing with 'hard to pair' veggie stews and hearty fish preparations. STAFF FAVORITE!