Vin48 restaurant and wine bar will host a trio of young Italian winemakers for a five-course dinner Saturday night. Sasa Radikon, Luca Roagna and Sebastiano DeBartoli - each young, leading winemakers in their respective regions - will be at vin48 for what promises to be a very special night of Italian wines. All three winemakers share the practices of making both traditional and natural wines. These natural winemaking practices include hand harvesting, using wild yeast, low yields in the vineyards and nonfiltration.
Chef Charles Hays has composed a unique menu to compliment the regional wines from Friuli, Piedmont and Sicily.
"It is an honor to have three influential young winemakers com to vin48 for this dinner," said Greg Eynon, owner-wine director at vin48. "We are limiting the seating to 24 people in our private dining room to ensure that the mood will be intimate, educational and, most importantly, a fun night of delicious natural Italian wine and food."
Radikon hails from the region of Friuli on the Slovenian border, in the town of Oslavia, where he, along with his father, Stanko Radikon, maintains the family's land. The town of Oslavia is home to a number of talented and individualistic winemakers. Radikon wines are interesting, complex examples of what had come to be known, in reference to the ancestral origins of the winemakers working in this style and their geographic proximity to the neighboring country, as the "Slovenian" style of Friuli wines - namely, hand-harvesting; extended skin maceration; large, older barrel fermentations without temperature control; no added yeasts or enzymes; and little or no use of sulfur.
"The winery's philosophy is to always make a natural, organic wine with the least human intervention possible and with the maximum respect for the soils and nature," Radikon said.
An interseting feature that sets Radikon wines apart is that they are bottled in a 1 liter bottles instead of the traditional 750 ml. The family believes believes that the 750 ml size does not really provide the right amount of wine for two people to share at dinner - an argument not easily rebutted.
The Roagna family have been winemakers in the village of Barbaresco since the mid 1800s. Luca Roagna likes to describe his families style of wine as traditional and innovative. Luca was born in 1980, and while he is still pursuing a high degree in oenology, he sees his academic studies as a way to understand intellectually all the practices he has observed on the terrain and in the cellar, as implemented by his family. In 2003, Luca initiated a new venture. He hopes to make a wine from each of the great cru sites in Barolo. He has begun with Vigna Rionda, in Serralunga d'Alba, where he has bought grapes from an old contadino who has worked the vineyard all his life in a mostly organic fashion, using no herbicides and minimal treatments.
Sebastiano DeBartoli hails from the coastal town of Marsala on Sicily's west coast. Marsala production dates back to the 1770s, and is a direct result of the Spanish/English war. Brits were already in Sicily at that point, and started making wine similar to Madeira and Sherry, also using the Solera method. This continued until 1860, when the Italian states united. At this point, Florio, an important business man, started bottling Marsala independently and under his name. The wine's popularity rose over the years, and by the early 1900s there were more than 100 wineries in the city, most located by the water for easy exporting. In fact Marsala was one of the very first wines exported around the world. Fast forward to the 1960s where the cave cooperatives grew, and of course started focusing on quantity instead of quality. This slowly killed the reputation of the once great wine, which is now mostly known as a cooking wine, most people associate it as a American/Italian restaurant staple. In the 70s, Marco DeBartoli was sick of hearing that Marsala was an industrial wine, so he came to the countryside to produce his own. Sebastiano and his brother, Renato, now run the DeBartoli winery and focus on growing the grape Grillo, which is indigenous to Marsala but now grown in other parts of Sicily. Grillo is very high yielding and in the last 50 years, most growers have been selling in bulk to cooperatives, so value has plummeted. And while people now use a ton of other grapes to make Marsala, the De Bartolis feel that is the only grape to use when making an authentic one because it maintains high acidity, which makes it great for aging.