Radikon is one of the most influential names in the orange wine and natural wine movements. The success of their orange wines can be traced to the late Stanko Radikon, a visionary and forward-thinking winemaker who revolutionized the process of skin contact white wine production.
The Radikon estate is situated in the far-east of the region of Friuli - Venezia Giulia in Italy, near the Slovenian border. The vineyard was first planted by Stanko’s maternal grandfather Franz Mikulus to local favorite grape variety Ribolla. When Stanko’s parents inherited the property in 1948, they planted Pinot Grigio, Tocai Friulano and Merlot grapes.
Upon taking over at the helm of the family business in the IGT Venezia Giulia, Stanko Radikon began changing the way the estate’s wines were produced. In 1995, he reintroduced a winemaking technique originally used by his grandfather, which involved 7 days of skin maceration for the Ribolla grapes. Over the years, Stanko further developed and refined this technique.
Today, the wines of Radikon are macerated for a period of 35 days for the red wines and anywhere between 30 days and 6 months for the white wines. In the case of white grapes, this process produces a wine with a reddish orange color and remarkable aromatic complexity.
Extended maceration also led to a much more robust style, which allowed Stanko to reduce the sulfite treatment of his wines. By 2003, he had fully eliminated the use of sulfur at his winery and began to use only natural yeasts for the vinifications to produce 100% natural wines. Additionally, no temperature control is used during the fermentation process. At Radikon, the entire vinification process is carried out in Slavonian oak, from fermentation in wooden vats to maturation in large barrels for a period of 3 years before filled into bottle without fining or filtering.
A minimal intervention, biodynamic approach at the winery is coupled with an environmentally friendly, naturalist approach in the vineyards. The latter are located in a landscape of rolling hills and planted on steep hillsides in marbled limestone and clay soils. The vines are planted at remarkable high densities of 6,500 to 10,000 plants per hectare in order to reduce yield and concentrate the fruit. This low yield leads to fantastic quality and high regular price of these wines. Chemical treatments of the soil have been completely eliminated and harvest is manual, limiting the yield to 2.25 tons of grapes per acre.
Today the Radikon estate comprises around 42 acres of vines, of which around 10 acres are located in Slovenia. The Radikon Friuli vineyard is home to several grape varieties: Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Ribolla Gialla, Tocai Friulano, Merlot and Pignolo.
Stanko Radikon passed away in the year 2016, leaving the estate in the capable hands of his son Sasa Radikon, his daughter Ivana and his wife Suzana. Having worked by his father’s side for over a decade before taking over, Saša continues his father’s legacy, producing exquisite wines of tremendous complexity. Each year, the Radikon family participates in an event called the Zivijo, a celebration aimed at remembering Stanko Radikon and his contribution to the world of wine.
Today, Radikon produces 3 lines of wines, referred to as their “protagonists.” Their Radikon’s Blue range includes a 100% Ribolla, a Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc blend named Radikon Oslavje and a white blend named Radikon Jakot. These wines are made with natural fermentation, 2-4 months of maceration in oak vats and 4 years of maturation in oak vats. They are bottled without any sulfur and aged for 2 years in bottle before release.
The Radikon S Range was launched in 2010, as Sasa’s personal project. This line includes the Venezia Giulia Pinot Grigio Sivi (a single-varietal), their Slatnik (a blend of Chardonnay with other white grapes) and their RS (Merlot and Pignolo). These wines are naturally fermented, macerated for 8-14 days in oak vats and matured for 18 months in oak. They are bottled with a small amount of sulfur and aged in bottle for 2 months before release.
Additionally, Radikon also makes a single-varietal Pignolo wine from Friuli Venezia Giuliasivi with no sulfur added and a Chardonnay – Sauvignon Blanc blend named Oslavje “Fuori dal Tempo” aged for a whopping 10 years in bottle before release.
Radikon wines have earned unparalleled cult status among wine lovers and remains an icon of the natural wine and orange wine movements. Their skin contact wines, like the Radikon Ribolla Giailla, are known for their unparalleled intensity and complexity on the nose. This natural wine of orange hue reveals shades of red and deep amber. Its bouquet reveals dried apricots and ripe white fruit pith, orange marmalade and bitter orange peel, ginger, nuts, sage and fennel. On the palate, a certain salinity and spice balances the fruity sweetness and acidity. A white wine with the density and tannic structure of a red wine, with a juicy, salty and refreshing finish.
These wines should be served at cellar temperature and chilled very slightly if at all.