Italian wine: Friulian Reds with Zorzettig

Oct 19, 2019 174

Nothing gets me more excited when it comes to Italian wine than having the opportunity to taste grapes that I don’t too often have the opportunity to taste.  Going to the Gambero Rosso event in Boston earlier this summer provided me that opportunity.

If you’re a regular reader of my column you know that I love the white wines of northern Italy, specifically northeastern Italy.  Not too often do I taste the reds, but I’ll jump at any opportunity to do so.  At the Gambero Rosso even I discovered the wines of Zorzettig located in the Friuli Venezia Giulia wine region.  Today I want to share with you their red wines including schioppettino and refosco. 

The winery ~ Zorzettig  

Zorzettig is located in the hills of Spessa di Cividale of the area of Colli Orientali.  With generations upon generations of winemaking in the family today the winery is managed by Annalisa Zorzettig with the help of her brother’s assistance in the vineyard.  Other generations including Annalisa’s daughter Veronica and young granddaughter will be following in her footsteps one day.   Their production is quite large with over 900k bottles annually.  

The land ~ Colli Orientali 

The Colli Orientali is one of the respected wine producing areas of Friuli.  It’s found just north of Collio in the eastern part of Friuli at the foothills of the Pre-Alps.  The vineyards were built there by the legionnaires of Julius Caesar.  Due to the steep hillsides the vineyards are terraced to allow easier cultivation of the grapes and hand harvesting of the grapes. 

The grapes ~ Schioppettino & Refosco 

Schioppettino and refosco aren’t two grapes I have covered a lot in the 6 years since I started my blog so am always happy to share them once I find ones I’ve enjoyed.  Schioppettino, pronounced skee-oh-pet-tino, is one of Friuli’s native red grapes.  It’s also known as ribolla nera.  This grape faced extinction since it was challenging to grow, but was rescued in the 1970’s by the Rapuzzi family and the Mayor of Prepotto.  It’s darkly colored with notes of black fruits and some spice.  It’s a full-bodied wine with intensity, structure, high acid and tannins.  They usually will age well as well. 

Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso, another native red grape of Friuli, is found throughout the region with its home in Carso.  The name of the grape means “from the red stem” and is due to the fact that the stalk turns red once the grapes have ripened.  Refosco can produce different styles depending upon the use of oak or not.  Medium to full-bodied it lends red and black fruit notes with herbs and spice.  Another grape high in tannins and acid.  

The wines 

2016 Zorzettig Schioppettino 

I was informed at the tasting that the word “schioppettino” comes from the verb scoppiare meaning to burst as the skins explode during fermentation. Made of 100% schioppettino.  With a nose of black pepper and green bell peppers.  Rather lighter than I expected close to medium bodied.  A soft wine with notes of forest berries.  At this price point it’s quite the bargain.  SRP $10-12 

2015 Zorzettig Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso Myo

These grapes hail from the oldest vineyards of the estate and was a project started in 2008 with a new selection of grapes both native and international. The project is named Myo Vigneti di Spessa.  Vigneti meaning vineyards of Spessa.  Myo stems from an ancient Friulian ballade based on the simplicity of daily living. Zorzettig felt Myo was the best name for these wines due to their pride and respect for their land and their labor of love put forth in the vineyards. 

From the Friuli Colli Orientali DOC, this wine was my favorite of the two. Made of 100% refosco.  Deep ruby red in color.  Moderate tannins with nice, crisp acidity.  Black fruits and ripe raspberries.  Good overall body and structure.  SRP $20 

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