Wednesday, November 11, 2009

1998 Ronchi di Cialla Ciallarosso Colli Orientali del Friuli-Cialla (DOC)

If you somehow managed to get all the way here and are reading this sentence, it means that you made it past the title...which is really no small feat if you're not all that into anything but the usual suspects. Colli Orientali del Friuli-Cialla is located in North-Eastern Italy. It's a way off the beaten path DOC (by the way, EU regulations on wine are changing...see here), that is mainly known for dry whites and sweet wines made from Verduzzo and Picolit. This wine is a bit of an odd-ball. Italy is known for what I'm going to loosely describe as a shit-load of indigenous grapes...Refosco and Schippettino are two of them. Refosco is native to Northern Italy and is also grown in Croatia and Slovenia. Unfortuantely, there isn't too much information about it available. (This seems to be the case with many of Italy's unique grapes.) Schioppettino, on the other hand, has a story surrounding it.

Schioppettino is also known as Ribolla Nera, means something akin to "gunshot" in Italian, and was first mentioned in the 13th century. Despite all of its' history, it almost went extinct when vineyard owners planted more international vines in response to the phylloxera outbreak. Schioppettino was literally saved from extinction by one man--Paolo Rapuzzi. Paolo Rapuzzi planted his vineyards in the late 1960's in Cialla. For unknown reasons, he scoured Northern Italy looking for Schioppettino. There apparently were less than 100 vines in existence. However, he ended up planting Schioppettino (despite the fact that it wasn't a legal variety to plant), most likely saving it from extinction in the process. All of the "known" Schioppettino comes from his root-stock now. (I suppose there could be some growing wild, or someone inadvertantly growing it in their backyard.)

This wine is from the Rapuzzi family winery--Ronchi di Cialla. 9$ at Wine Expo. (9$ is a crazy price for an 11 year old wine. Just saying.) 12% ABV. A blend of 50% Refosco, and 50% Schioppettino. Slightly green aromas, a bit of pepper, earth, wild cherries, and pine. As the wine opens up more, the green aromas fade away and turn mainly to cherry. Slightly earthy, slightly green flavors and cherries are backed by an acidic, rounded mouth feel. Not much in the way of a finish. This wine is most certainly meant to go with food, due to all of its' acidity and the light frame. In many ways, this reminded me of Dolcetto becuase of its' brisk acidity, friendliness with food, and fruity flavors. This wine went quite well with tomato sauce as well as with chicken. It's an interesting wine, and with food, it shines. The story is definitely interesting, and this is good way to try two unique grapes at once. This wine is certainly not as good as the Ermacora Schioppettino, but if you're interested in the viticultural history of Italy and indigenous grapes, this is worth checking out and is relatively inexpensive (if you can find it!). I've certainly had worse wines than this in many ways! C/C+ (For this history/Unique factor)


GrowingAbruzzo said...

Friuli is one of those Italian wine-making regiones people pass over, and they are missing something. Wine is in their blood as much as their wine names are long!
They also have some great but rare whites that you drink at room temperature with brasato.

Jeff said...

Interesting. I will have to look for some of more whites. I've had a few... You live in Rome I see. I have to say I'm jealous...It's my pipe dream to live there permanently. Have you ever been to Il Tajut? Great place. Ahh...Roma.

GrowingAbruzzo said...

Never been, but I'm going to have to check it out next time I can make it the San Giovanni in Laterano neighborhood!
There is a cantina in Abruzzo that produces a good white similar to the ones in Friuli I love. The cantina is called Cantina Mucci. I'll look for the label name. It's a vendemmia tardiva wine.
Right now the Pecorino local grape is popular for whites in Abruzzo, 10 years ago no one was bottling it, now it's on the upmarket side of things. Passetti is a good family run winery for it, Cantina Tollo is a cooperative that makes a decent pecorino too.
I live in Abbruzzo, work in Rome, just never made it home from stuying her 20 years ago...hard at times, but in the end it's worth it.

Jeff said...

My girlfriend lived in Rome at Ventinove Via Labicana, which is right by Il Tajut. It Tajut is a cultural association, which is sort of a tax dodge I guess. You have to sign up to be a member! But once you're inside, they have a bunch of cool wines, especially from Friuli. Actually, that's where I was introduced to Ermacora, which is an awesome producer that is worth tracking down.

I've seen the Pecornio grape recently on a wine list here in LA. It's funny because I thought cheese...not wine. I will have to check it out.

We both would like to move there for at least a couple of years...I have heard that it's tough, and obviously Italy isn't the US.

Took a look at all of your sites--very cool. I wish that I understood more Italian so that I could read your Growing Abruzzo site in full...

GrowingAbruzzo said...

I just posted this piece on Twitter (which will take ti automatically to facebook). Living in any foreing country is hard. Some of the blogs will bre shut down as I don't keep them going. GrowingAbruzzo is mostly local development articles that were published in Abruzzo's main newspaper.
I will definitly have to check out il Tajut.
I thought that about the wine as well when I first saw it.

Jeff said...

I'm looking at your Carbonara site... Very cool. I added it to my RSS feed.

Il Tajut has awesome food too, and the owner "Il Presidente" is super cool.

lou_wine_bar said...

I have a six pack of the bianco--stop by some time and I'll open a bottle for us to taste.


Jeff said...


That would be great. I would definitely love to drop by and taste some of the whites. I love your place and the people that work there are super cool. It's refreshing to be able to go some place that has so much interesting food and wine to drink...and doesn't have "the usual suspects."