Showing posts with label Friuli. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Friuli. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Friuli's Eastern Hills Make A Beautiful White Wine


The La Roncaia website waxes extremely poetic about Italy's Friuli Colli Orientali DOC zone.  The hills and green terraces, the verdant woods, the glittering sea on the far horizon - I'm sold.  An Italian vacation it is.

The Fantinel family has been making wine in this beautiful region - the eastern hills - for three generations, and they are not showing any signs of slowing down.  As in the rest of the general area of northeastern Italy, the soil's minerality is the key to making a great white wine.

La Roncaia's 2018 Eclisse is a blend of Sauvignon and Picolit grapes grown in the rolling hills between Tarcento and Attimis.  Picolit is usually vinified as a sweet dessert wine, and it enjoyed much popularity in the 18th century among royalties across Europe.  This wine is a Bianco IGT Venezia Giulia bottling.  The grape varieties were vinified separately in a mixture of steel tanks and French oak barrels.  Alcohol hits a reasonable 13.5% abv and it retails for around $20.

The gold-tinted wine has some frizzante - fine, tiny bubbles clinging to the glass.  The nose offers lemon, lime, apricot and a very earthy salinity.  The palate is as mineral-driven as they come - lots of wet stone and citrus at play here, along with a nice bit of acidity.  The savory aspect of this wine simply knocks me out.  Pair with shellfish, or just with crackers and a sharp cheddar.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

A Trio Of Italian Sauvignon Blancs

A recent online wine tasting experience introduced participants to Italian Sauvignon Blanc.  Probably more noted from France, California or New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc is a white wine grape which can produce a wide variation of styles, even within northern Italy's wine regions.

Tiare Collio DOC Sauvignon 2019

For his Tiare winery, Roberto Snidarcig creates white wines under the Collio labeling and reds from the Isonzo DOC.  Collio's marl is better fitted for whites than the gravelly soil of Isonzo.  

This 2019 Tiare is 100% Sauvignon from the Dolegna del Collio area.  Fermentation took place in stainless steel vats and a fifth of the wine saw malolactic fermentation.  Alcohol sits at 13.5% abv and the retail price comes in around $23.

This Sauvignon is tinted a very light gold, almost clear.  The nose gives aromas more common to New World Sauvignon Blancs - grass, herbs, salinity.  The grassiness is not, however, on par with, say, a New Zealand SB.  It's a little more restrained than that.  On the palate, citrus minerality is the rule, with an extremely fresh acidity.  The lemon-lime flavor comes back on the lengthy finish.  Fish is a great pairing for this wine, something along the lines of a tuna salad or nicoise would be ideal.

Bosco del Merlo Sauvignon Blanc Turranio

Bosco del Merlo's winery name was inspired by the oak forests - boscos - that once covered the area and were referenced on topographical maps.  Turriano refers to Ruffino Turranio of Concordia Sagittaria.  He was a monk and a historian just a few centuries after the birth of Christ.  The Bosco del Merlo estate winery was founded in 1977 by brothers Carlo, Lucia and Roberto Paladin.

The estate vineyards are right on the border between Veneto and Friuli, and this wine is Friuli DOC.  The grapes for Turranio were harvested separately - different Sauvignon Blanc clones of different ages.  The grapes of the first harvest were tasked with freshness and minerality.  The grapes of the second harvest were for structure and body.  The fruit was vinified separately, then aged five months in steel, in contact with the spent yeast cells.  Alcohol clocks in at 13% abv and the wine sells for around $20.

This pale yellow wine has a fragrant nose with some grassy, herbal notes, although not as grassy as the Tiare.  There is a nice floral element and some tropical fruit, too.  The palate shows a great Sauvignon Blanc flavor profile - citrus, minerals, herbs - and an acidity which is pleasant enough without getting too crazy.  I sometimes find Sauvignon to be a little much on the palate for my taste, but that is not the case with the Turriano.  It is a very nice sip and wonderful match for rice or pasta dishes, especially those with an herbal flair to them.

Cantina Kurtatsch Alto Adige Sauvignon Kofl

Kurtatsch Kellerei-Cantina is a wine cooperative which has been around since 1900.  Some 190 families contribute the leg and back work, while winemaker Othmar DonĂ¡ transforms their fruit into wine.

This wine comes from the Alpine region of Alto Adige, where the German language is just as common to hear as Italian.  The winery says the vineyard lies in the shadow of the great mountains to the west, so the sun sets early there and makes for a white wine heaven.  The sandy, gravelly soil sports a lot of dolomite and quartz, which benefits the minerality.  Kofl was vinified in steel tanks, then aged for a year, on the lees, in big oaken barrels.  

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Thursday, April 8, 2021

If It's Northern Italy, Make It A White Wine

Friuli is in the northeastern tip of Italy, bordered by Austria to the north, Slovenia to the east and the Adriatic Sea to the south.  It is home to the magnificent Dolomite Mountains, and to Tenuta Luisa.  The Dolomites are part of the Southern Limestone Alps, and when it comes to white wine, limestone is the magic word.

The estate got its start in 1907 with Francesco Luisa.  His son, Delciso followed, as did his son Eddi, who still works alongside his wife, Nella.  Now, brothers Davide and Michele are the fourth generation to handle the vineyards and the winery, with generation five waiting in the wings.  

The crown on the label, says Michele, stands for the coat of arms of their hamlet in the village of Mariano del Friuli and represents the Collio hills that "crown" the area.  Their vineyards are in the Friuli Isonzo DOC, containing the name of the river flowing through the eastern part of the Friuli Venezia Giulia wine region.  Their I Ferretti wines get their name from the iron-rich soil in which the grapes grow.

The 2018 Tenuta Luisa Friuli Isonzo Friulano I Ferretti, made with 100% Friulano grapes, is fermented 30% in oak and 70% in steel.  It was awarded the highest status of Tre Bicchieri by Italian wine guide Gambero Rosso.  Alcohol rests at 13.5% abv and the retail price is about $20.

I am not a huge fan of white wines with a floral nose, but in this one it plays very well.  The flowers are subtle, with an overriding minerality coming forward.  That's where I like my white wines to live.  Aromas of tangerine and lemon zest are abetted by the smell of wet rocks and a trace of what smells to me like oregano.  The palate is all about those minerals, with a subdued citrus flavor along for the ride.  The acidity is great, perfect for something from the ocean.  I paired the I Ferretti with a seafood risotto for dinner, and wished that it was on the table at lunch when I had polpo, a grilled octopus salad.

Monday, January 16, 2017

If You Pass On Pinot Grigio, Try This One

Brothers Luigi, Ercole and Fernando bought what is now the Pighin estate in 1963, and it became a full-fledged winery four years later. Fernando and his wife and kids have run the place since 2004.  The building on the property dates back several hundred years. They say the "vineyards of Grave del Friuli overlook the north shore of the Adriatic Sea."

Kobrand, the wine’s importer, notes the relationship between the name and the soil: "Like the gravelly Graves region of Bordeaux, Grave del Friuli owes its name to the gravel in the subsoil, which forces the roots of the vine to grow deep into the earth in search of water. As the vine struggles, its fruit grows richer, resulting in full, well-structured wine with remarkable minerality."

This Fernando Pighin Pinot Grigio is one of those Pinot Grigios for people who think they don’t like Pinot Grigio. Flat, unimaginative juice this is not. It carries an alcohol number of 12.5% abv, and sells in the $10 to $15 range.

This wine a bright and beautiful yellow-gold in the glass. The nose is fruity and floral, with Meyer lemon and tangerine zest. Stone fruit and white flowers complete a delight for the nostrils. On the palate, there is ample fruit balanced with earthy minerality. The acidity is quite good. I enjoyed mine with lentil soup, and the winery also likes it with fish and risotto.

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Monday, February 2, 2015

Pinot Grigio Benefits From Blending With Verduzzo

Masi - led today by Sandro Boscaini - claims to be located directly on the cutting edge of wine technology.  The appassimento technique is used by Masi to dry the grapes before fermenting, resulting in greater concentration of color, aroma and flavor.  It’s actually an ages-old technique, applied in a 21st century environment.

The 2012 Masianco is not a 100% varietal wine - it is made from 75% Pinot Grigio grapes and 25% Verduzzo Delle Venezie grapes, a local variety in this “supervenetian” blend imported by Kobrand.  The Pinot Grigio grapes are grown in the Castions di Strada vineyard in Friuli, while the Venetian Verduzzo is the grape which undergoes the appassimento  process.  It also gets some time in barrique after tank fermentation.

At 13% abv, the alcohol is quite restrained.  The retail price is $15.  I was given a sample for the purpose of review.

The wine's nose is very attractive, and it shows the dried side of the fruit, especially apricot.  There is almost a petrol angle to the minerality.  Masianco is tinted light gold, a little darker than the usual shade for a Pinot Grigio.  The palate is a whole lot more complex that your usual Pinot Grigio, too.  The dried fruit flavor is quite intense, but it's the minerality that really carries this wine.  That and a zingy acidity that refreshes completely.  The finish lingers with traces of lemon and orange peel lasting long beyond the sip.

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