Franco Sosol: “The character of Ribolla Gialla is strong, determinate and hard.”

Franco Sosol

Recently we have talked about the Italian winery Azienda Agricola Il Carpino. Today it is time to talk to Franco Sosol, co-owner and winemaker.

Buongiorno, Franco, and thank you very much for your collaboration. Being in Oslavia, Ribolla Gialla is the queen of your wines. What is so special about this grape?

I like this question about Ribolla, because Ribolla is really the queen of my wine. To be precise, we are from Oslavia and have the vineyards in Oslavia but our winery is in San Floriano del Collio. This grape is so special because it has always been cultivated in our area of Collio, because Ribolla find its natural habitat here.

How is the work of the Associazione Produttori Ribolla Di Oslavia, whose objective is promoting the Ribolla di Oslavia (macerated Ribolla Gialla)?

Together with other five Ribolla Gialla producers, we founded this Associazione many years ago. All of us have the same point of view even if there are six different styles to vinify the Ribolla but always with maceration. The aim of the Associazione is to promote macerated Ribolla around the world

You produce wines with the Ribolla both fresh and young and also macerated and aged. Does this grape works for other style of wine?

We produce both fresh and macerated because some vineyards are not so old and because there are different soils. In the old vineyard where the soil is more fertile, the grape is oriented for fresh wine.

We make the same also for the Pinot Grigio, Malvasia, Friulano and Chardonnay.

The Ribolla for the Riserva is macerated on the skins over a month. How do you determine when it is ready?

I began with a short maceration with Ribolla and I increased the length of time each year till I established that more or less 40/50 days is good because the skin of Ribolla is deep and a shorter time of maceration is not enough. On the contrary, too long time in my opinion, the wine loose its elegance.

The other white varieties of the Il Carpino line are also macerated on the skins. How each variety adapts to this vinification method?

All the other varieties adapt very good, but it is not necessary that the time of skin contact is so long as for the Ribolla, because the skin of Pinot Grigio, of Friulano and of Malvasia are thinner as compared to the Ribolla. We have determined that between 7 and 10 days we can extract all the substances they have in the skin.

Why did you decide to start macerating the white wines in contact with the skins for long periods?

At the beginning, of course. In the 1970s it was very common for every winemaker here to do maceration with the skins. I didn’t know which ones would be the consequences of a longer maceration on my grapes so I began with short periods.

Il Carpino line is going through an ageing of oak, then steel, then oak again. What is the reasoning for this process?

After harvest the grape is destemmed and the process of maceration in open oak barrels begins. When the maceration is over the wine goes to Slavonian oak botti and after one year. Then we move it to steel for a natural process of decantation that lasts around seven or eight months and after that we bottle with absolutely no filtration.

Which of the five white wines in the Il Carpino line (Chardonnay, Ribolla Gialla, Malvasia, Pinot Grigio and Friulano) works better?

I am very proud not only of Ribolla but also of Malvasia, because we have a Malvasia vineyard that is more than 70 years old. It has a very low production but its quality is superlative, always constant though much reduced

Tocai Friulano and Chardonnay are varieties that I am in love with.

How does the Malvasia work here in Oslavia?

Malvasia works very good here, it is a strong variety and takes very well the high temperatures but it suffers a bit the wind because when the grape is mature the acids can begin to fall down.

Do you plan to go fully organic viticulture?

Absolutely, we are already in the process to convert to it.

How is your work in the vineyards?

In the vineyards I don’t use chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides or herbicides. My aim is to preserve the balance of the ecosystem and the environment. Our intervention in viticulture and winemaking is just the minimum possible. We cut the grass by hand and also the harvest is done absolutely by hand. We do not use irrigation.

In the cellar we don’t use bentonite, we don’t filter our wines, we just add a minimum dose of sulphites and we always following the lunar calendar.

How do you manage to show the character of the Ribolla in your wines?

Work with the Ribolla is very difficult because if a grapegrower has never worked before with Ribolla is quite hard for him to manage it. Ribolla has a high level of production and needs much attention especially when it is young but also both during the pruning and also the thinning but especially it is hard to determinate when it is mature to harvest.

The Ribolla gives me a lot of satisfaction. The character of Ribolla is strong, determinate and hard. It can be drank also after a strong red wine and in the meantime it is delicate, it is good to combine with every kind of food, from salami, to meat and red meat, and it is absolutely fantastic with a cake or chocolate. Ana always says that Il Carpino Ribolla is similar to its winemaker.

What is your aim to show in the Il Carpino line wines?

I try to work hard and to follow my vineyards as if they were my children, and maybe more, as they say, because they have to be strong and to make the best grapes possible, in a natural way. When I see people appreciate drinking our wines, I am happy and my goal is reached. I have nothing else to show.

What kind of wine do you like to drink when you are not working?

When I am not working, many times I prefer to drink the wine of my friends and colleagues because no one of us ever finishes studying and understanding the world of wine that goes around us.

Grazie mille, Franco!!

foto (c) Azienda Agricola Il Carpino