Our recent visit to Azienda Agricola Primosic in Friuli-Venezia Giulia was based on two motives: the extreme quality of their wines produced with the Ribolla Gialla and the superb Orange wine they also elaborate with the same variety. We enjoyed so much their wines we had to go visit them. Today we talk to Boris Primosic, the winemaker.

Buongiorno, Boris, and thank you very much for your cooperation. We fell in love with your wines produced with the Ribolla Gialla. What does this variety have so special to make these wines?

Buongiorno Aitor, thank you for visiting us and for appreciating the quality of our wines. Ribolla Gialla is a native grape from Friuli Venezia Giulia region, and it is a beautifully rich fruit, with a juicy pulp, and thick golden skin. It grows preferably on terrains that are very poor in organic substances, like our marl-sandstone called “ponca”. For this reason, Ribolla Gialla is a wine characterized by minerality and sapidity, balanced by a pleasant acidity. The thick skin of Ribolla grape makes it perfect for maceration. The macerated Ribolla Gialla was made by our ancestors and we still produce it nowadays: we call it Ribolla di Oslavia.

Oslavia is a small village where Primosic winery is located: we are in the heart of Collio, a DOC area characterized by gentle hills and beautiful landscapes. There is a unique bond between Oslavia and Ribolla, that for us is a symbol of attachment to our territory. Historically, Ribolla was not the wine of noblemen and it was not influenced by the political happenings of the XIX century: it was just “our” Ribolla.

It adapts very well to be a spumante wine, as the RibollaNoir Brut shows.

In the Nineties we started the first experiments for the creation of a sparkling Ribolla Gialla. Thanks to continuous research, this wine had a remarkable evolution during the years, and finally we found the magic that permits us to create a product that enhances Ribolla Gialla characteristics at its best. Today, Ribolla Noir keeps the main characteristics of Ribolla united with the gentle aromatics of Pinot Noir. It’s zesty and citrus in the nose, with hints of fragrant flowers. It’s good for aperitif and it’s the perfect match with raw fish starters.

Also as young and fresh wine such as the Think Yellow one.

“Think Yellow” is the classic version of Ribolla Gialla. Vinificated only in steel, it has all the features of Ribolla Gialla grape: characteristic flavor, dry, slight citrus, pleasant acidity, and gently mineral. Its smell is reminiscent of freshly cut hay, Golden Delicious apples, and acacia flowers. The words “Think Yellow” are a slogan, a catch phrase that wants to convey the idea of a fresh, young, funny and glamour wine.

And of course to the Orange wine Ribolla Riserva di Oslavia.

As I said before, Ribolla di Oslavia is a macerated Ribolla Gialla. This means that the must is put in contact with skins for 4 weeks, in open vats, in contact with oxygen, without sulphites and without temperature control. Ribolla di Oslavia is an Orange wine, produced in a very natural way, and for us it is an important bond with our grandparents’ winemaking tradition. However, Ribolla di Oslavia is produced after many years of experience and with the mixture of ancient and modern winemaking techniques, and the result is a very well balanced wine, really pleasant to drink. Ribolla di Oslavia can be paired with white meat, fat fish like eel, and it is amazing with Japanese food.

It blends so well into the Klin wine. This is a very special wine using Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Friuliano and Ribolla Gialla. How do you elaborate this wine?

Like Ribolla di Oslavia, Klin is one of our Reserve wines and it is an organic wine. “Klin” is the name of the vineyard where the grapes are grown: 4 different grape varieties in the same vineyard. This means that our Klin is a bit different every year, depending on the weather conditions and on the productivity of the vines.

All grapes of “Klin” are harvested together: when harvest takes place, Sauvignon is not ripening yet, but Chardonnay is fully mature and it balances Sauvignon’s acidity.

After the harvest, the grapes are destemmed and softly pressed. The freerun must is then separated from the press must and put into small wooden barrels of 500-600 liters, where fermentation begins with indigenous yeasts. The “Tumultuous fermentation” phase lasts around 15-20 days until malolactic fermentation is almost complete. The temperature of the small barrels does not rise above 26-28°C. The wine is then transferred, and the Ribolla Gialla part is added to the bulk. The wine is aged in wood for 24 months, and finally bottled without sterile filtration. We recommend to age the wine in bottle for at least 12 months.

I haven’t seen it used in sweet wines. Is it not a good variety for it?

It’s a work in progress (in near future).

Why do you produce an Orange wine and how do you elaborate it?

We produce an Orange wine because this is part of our tradition, and at the meantime we noticed that Orange wines are more and more appreciated nowadays. In fact, our Ribolla di Oslavia has been awarded with Tre Bicchieri by Gambero Rosso(the most important award in Italy), and for this reason it is becoming more and more known (and loved) all over the world.

Production technique: The overripe grapes, manually harvested in crates, are destemmed and placed in open vats, where fermentation begins with indigenous yeasts, without sulphites, and with frequent punching down. The must remains in contact with the skins for 24 days without temperature control. The must is then separated from the skins and placed in small wooden barrels of 500-600 liters and casks of 1500 liters to continue the fermentation. The aging on fine lees lasts 24 months during which the wine almost completes the malolactic fermentation. After bottling, which takes place without sterile filtration, the wine is aged in the bottle for more than 12 months.

We were able to visit the cellar and see the Bottiglia Numero Uno, the first ever DOC Collio wine, a 1967 Tocai Friulano. You also treasure many vintages of your white wines. How do you manage to age them this well?

We age them in our barrel cellar, at the underground floor, where a well keeps the right humidity in the room (very important for the conservation of the wooden barrels and the wine).

You recently did a vertical tastings of your white wines. Can you tell us how well did they perform?

We did a vertical tasting of our Klin Collio Bianco, from vintage 1990 to vintage 2010, with Vinum, the Swiss magazine. Klin performed really well and even older vintages gained high scores. This is very rare for a white wine and for us it’s a great satisfaction, because it means that we produce time-resistant, high quality wines.

We saw an old bottle of the Riesling 1968. How come you don’t produce it anymore?

It’s a too late harvest for our region. Riesling in our region is not Riesling Renano but Riesling Italico (the poor brother).

How are your vineyards in terms of varieties in each one and how’s their type of soil?

We have in total 32 hectares of vineyards. We dedicate some of them to four different local grapes (Ribolla Gialla, Tocai Friulano, Malvasia Istriana, Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso). All the other vineyards are planted with international grape varieties: Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet, etc.

We also have some special and ancient vineyards that we use for our Selection and Reserve wines. They are called Belvedere, Murno, Gmajne, Klin… all these names come from oral tradition and identifies also the wines that are produced in these vineyards (for example Friulano Belvedere, Merlot Murno, Sauvignon Gmajne…).

The soil of all our vineyards is the so-called “ponca”, a marl-sandstone very poor in organic substances.

What’s the influence of the Bora wind in your vineyards?

Bora is a wind that comes from North-East and ventilates the vineyards.

Primosic is one of the members of the Associazione Produttori Ribolla Di Oslavia. What are the objectives of this association?

Promoting Ribolla di Oslavia (i.e. macerated Ribolla Gialla) and make Orange wines known as much as possible. We want to demonstrate that organic and natural winemaking techniques can live with high quality wines.

Which is the wine you are more satisfied with?

Ribolla di Oslavia and Collio Bianco Klin.

Which wines do you drink when you are not at work?

Ribolla Gialla (old vintages) and in summer Ribolla sparkling.

Grazie mille, Boris!