Let's be clear: Edi Keber is not a "gentleman farmer" like some of his fellow wine makers in the Collio region of Friuli, on northeast Italy's border with Slovenia. He's a rough and ready working man, proud of his wines, full of good humor, and with a suprisingly good eye for modern art. He's also the genius behind those yellow Vespas that tourists rent to scoot around the Collio hills.
But no website. Email, yes. One suspects this will change before long; Edi has children. On the other hand, he says, "In this winery, I command." And only one wine, period. A white blend called, simply Edi Keber "Collio." He won't tell you what's in it; that's beside the point, he insists. (For the record, it's mostly friulano, with malvasia, ribolla gialla and pinot grigio thrown in.) Twelve hectares on the marl and limestone soil called flysh, 50,000 bottles, and not a stainless steel tank in sight. He ferments in glass-lined concrete tanks.
"Steel has no soul," Edi says, and who's to contradict him?
Far from being a hidebound traditionalist, though, Edi is forward-thinking. He's designed a new bottle for Collio's signature whites, with the name Collio stamped into the neck of the bottle, made by a "green" manufacturer located in Milano (because it's important to keep as much business as possible local). His wife made a lush bean and barley soup for our visitiing delegation, and his neighbor, winemaker Roberto Picech, brought some homemade salami. Picech, by the way, currently serves as president of the Collio DOC, the quasi-governmental organization responsible for administering the disciplinare, or production protocol.
Picech's 2004 white blend was remarkably complex, but Keber's Collio from 2007, served in magnum, was simply stunning, odds-on favorite wine of the trip. A trip, we hasten to remind readers, that was sponsored by the Collio winegrowers to acquaint American audiences with these remarkable wines.