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…spontaneously fermenting

A tasting note: 2005 Franco Terpin Ribolla Gialla

Azienda Agricola Franco Terpin
Loc. Valerisce n°6/a
34170 – San Floriano del collio – Go
Tel +39 0481 884215
If you haven’t yet tasted the wines from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia area of Italy, then perhaps you should.  Sitting in the furthermost North East Corner of Italy bordering Slovenia, this wine region has been getting a lot of attention lately. Is this because the majority of Italian skin-macerated whites (aka orange wines) hail from this region? Is it because the  region produces age-worthy, mineral wines that make you sit back and say “huh…what grape was this again?”?  Is it because this is the home of many natural wines, which also gets a lot of attention these days?  I would place a check-mark next to “all of the above” because these wines are serious.  And many are seriously good!

Most  of the producers (and grapes) in this area of Italy have names that the rest of Italy cannot pronounce. Take Vodopivec for example and the only grape they vinify, the Vitovoska. Even the wines made in this corner of Italy stray from the every-day wines that the average Italian recognizes and consumes. Yet, these are very much wines. These are living wines, often made only with grapes. Nothing added, nothing taken.

The wine for this tasting note was produced by Franco Terpin. A little easier to pronounce, yet far from typical.  Franco farms in a natural fashion without the  use of industrial fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides.  “The vine listens. The vine understands”, says Franco.  Franco says that the Ribolla Gialla (called Rebula in this area) is difficult to grow and he only vinifies it in exceptional vintages. Harvest is done by hand, fermentation  (initially in steel) is spontaneous thanks to the extended skin contact.  The wine is then transferred to oak where it spends about one year on the lees. It  is then transferred to stainless steel where it spends another year. Then it’s bottled without fining or filtering and is left to rest for yet another year before going for sale.  Approximately 2500 bottles produced.  This wine is not available in Norway or Poland.

Date tasted: Tuesday May 17th – Norwegian Independence day – 1845

Appearance: a slightly cloudy, orange-hued wine with a high intensity reflection. I just love the look of orange wines!

Nose: Oak  jumps out of the glass at first, with hints of reduction. Not a lot of fruit showing at this time. Mineral.  Some orange peel emerging, but the wine is still closed and not showing well yet. Some very slight, slight balsamic hints.

Palate: mineral, dry and surprisingly, the oak is less evident on the palate. The wine is quite intense on the palate and ends (many seconds after first entering the mouth) with a slight bitterness.  Medium-high acidity. Alcohol seems high, yet is well-integrated. The wood dries out the mouth very slightly, but not offensively . Very focused finish. Reminds of the peach iced-tea I just drank.  Super food wine i would imagine.

Wine is decanted………


Same night at  20:25:

Appearance hasn’t changed

Nose: More fruit has emerged. No sign of oak anymore. More herbs.

Palate: Still quite mineral. Oily. Orange peel. Pork fat, bacon. Alcohol is the only disturbance here, but the wine has been sitting in a decanter for almost two hours at room temp. Sits a long time on the palate. again, serious food wine. Fatty, oily. Texture is nice.

as we finished the last sips about an hour later, the wine had developed the sort of texture that helped the wine  just slip easily down the throat


 


Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy, natural wine (just about), orange wine

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Bressan Mastri Vinai Part IV – 2004 Schioppettino

The Schioppettino is a  red grape grown predominately in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy.  Also known as the Ribolla Nera, pills Schioppettino literally means “gunshot” or “little crack”.  Records show that red wine made from the Schioppettino was used at marriage ceremonies back to 1282.  The grape was nearly lost to extinction thanks mostly to the phylloxera epidemic. Today, Bressan is one of the few wine makers making wine from the Schioppettino grape.

Soil composition: Calcareous mineral base, with high presence of iron sesquioxides. Such geological characteristics, associated with this scarce endowment of organic and other nutritional elements, forces the vines to a slow vegetative growth, resulting in an extremely low production, with an overall benefit to the MACRO and MICRO components of the grapes, and therefore the wines.

  • Total surface area: 3.88 HA
  • Planting year:  1982
  • # of vines/HA:  3086
  • Sun exposition: Southern, with rows oriented EAST-WEST
  • Harvest:  Permitted to slightly over-mature (so as to attain very high fixed acidity congenital to the species), harvested by hand.

Wine Making: Grapes are de-stalked and brought to must by way of soft-pressing; extremely long maceration with principal fermentation along with the grape skins, refrigerated with well water at a controlled temperature not exceeding 25C (77F).  After racking, the wine undergoes an ulterior 35 days of fermentation. The wine is then stored in stainless steel tanks, followed by aging for at least 2 more  years in 2000 liter oak casks. After bottling, groups of 500 bottles are placed in large chests, which are then stored in a temperature controlled warehouse for additional aging.

  • Alcohol content:  13%
  • Total acidity:  5.58 g/l

Date tasted:  Saturday December 26th, 2009 12:02 (PM)

Appearance: Medium dark brick red. Very very slight development showing. Medium intensity.

Nose: Very intense freshly ground black pepper. Blackberries and dark plums with mineral undertones. Floral and very intriguing. Hints of roasted meat.  Forest floor, musk and wild fruit. Very complex and intriguing nose.

Palate: Very intense on the palate as well with aromas of black pepper, wild dark berries, musk and hints of red berries with a mineral background. Some pleasant dried fruit aromas as well.  Medium tannins, medium to medium plus acidity carrying the wine to a long, very fresh finish.  Very fresh and very drinkable.  This has always been one of my favorite wines of Bressan..  Excellent with lamb!

Category: 1 WINE, 2 PRODUCER PROFILE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Bressan Mastri Vinai- Friuili-Venezia Giulia, Italy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy, natural wine (just about)

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Bressan Mastri Vinai Part III – 2004 Pinot Grigio

Soil composition: Calcareous mineral base, cost with high presence of iron sesquioxides. Such geological characteristics, clinic associated with this scarce endowment of organic and other nutritional elements, search forces the vines to a slow vegetative growth, resulting in an extremely low production, with an overall benefit to the MACRO and MICRO components of the grapes, and therefore the wines.

  • Total surface area:  1.41 HA
  • Planting year:  1990
  • # of vines/HA:  4630
  • Sun exposition:  Southern, with rows oriented NORTHWEST-SOUTH
  • Harvest:  Physiologically correct, by hand

Wine making: Grapes are de-stalked and soft-pressed, with cold decanting of the must and the total elimination of the entire part decanted.  20-25 days cold fermentation. Subsequent slow fermentation of the fine lees in stainless steel tanks; then aging for 12-15 months before bottling.  Bottles are placed in groups of 500 in large chests that are then stored in temperature controlled warehouses for additional aging.

  • Alcohol content:  13%
  • Total acidity:  5.20 g/l

Date tasted:  Saturday December 26th, 2009 12:02 (PM)

Appearance: “Ramato” – Copper-like color, but perhaps a bit lighter than the Verduzzo Fruilano with a tad more brownish tinge.  Medium plus intense glow.

Nose: Less intense than the Verduzzo Fruilano and more “feminine”. Fresh apricots and orange peel. Hints of star anise and mineral. Medium complex

Palate: Medium intense wine with orange citrus, hints of apricot, star anise and mineral.  Well-integrated alcohol, very fresh and drinkable. Very mild tannins, medium plus acidity with a long, mineral, fresh finish. One of the best Pinot Grigio’s I have ever tasted, if not the best.

Drinking very well now, but can be stored up to 5 years in my opinion. Another winner from Bressan…

Category: 1 WINE, 2 PRODUCER PROFILE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Bressan Mastri Vinai- Friuili-Venezia Giulia, Italy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy, natural wine (just about), orange wine

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Bressan Mastri Vinai Part II- 2006 Verduzzo Friulano

In Part I of the Bressan producer profile, I discussed in depth the philosophy of Fulvio Bressan.  Now I will present some of his wines which I had the opportunity to taste.  Bressan is an artisan wine producer making wine in extremely small quantities, between 0-50,000 bottles per year.  They specialize in the production of indigenous grape varieties, including the wine being tasted for this tasting note.

The Verduzzo (Friulano) grape is indigenous to Friuli, but can also be found in the Veneto.  According to Fulvio, it is very rare to find dry versions of the wine made from this grape (only 2 or 3 other producers in Friuli  make it dry).  The Verduzzo grapes is unusual in that it has high tannins like you might find in a red wine. Therefore, if the grape is harvested too early, the tannins can be quite bitter and harsh, and therefore wine makers began adding sugar to the wine to make it sweet, thus masking the bitterness of the tannins. In Fulvio’s opinion (and in mine as well), a sweet wine will not be balanced when made in this way.  Fulvio instead picks his grapes at the optimal ripeness (because he is patient), and vinifies the wine as a dry wine.

The first thing you notice when pulling the cork out of the bottle is the quality of the cork itself. Fulvio swears by the quality of his corks and says that if you ever get a corked bottle, simply return the cork and he will refund you.

Read the rest of this entry »

Category: 1 WINE, 2 PRODUCER PROFILE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Bressan Mastri Vinai- Friuili-Venezia Giulia, Italy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy, natural wine (just about), orange wine

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A tasting note: 2005 Vodopivec Vitovska Amphora

2009-06-02_620091680Date tasted:  June 2nd, 2009 15:00 (3pm)

In the hills and mountains of Friuli-Venezia Giulia in North Eastern Italy, there are a group of winemakers that wish to make wine like they did centuries ago.  They farm organically and believe very firmly in the principles of natural wine making.  Ancient methods of cultivation are employed and the white wines are treated to extended maceration periods on the skins, producing “orange” wines.   Indigenous yeasts are used without the use of temperature control.  Fermentation takes place naturally and spontaneously.  In some cases, this takes place outdoors in large terracotta Amphorae.

The Vodopivec brothers’  Valter and Paolo’s winery is about 20 minutes north of Trieste, near the Slovenian border.  The brothers own a nursery and are plant and flower experts.  They have been making wine since 1995.  Up until the 2005 vintage, they have always used big Botti, now they are also using Amphorae.

The Vodopivec brothers usually bottle two different wines from the Vitovska grape.  The Vitovska grape is a vine with a greenish-gold berry that has always been cultivated in area of Trieste.  The name of the vine is undoubtedly of Slovenian origin, and was often called Vitovska Garganija.   The top bottling is the Solo, comprised of the top selection of grapes from older vines.  The second bottling is their second selection.

2005 was a challenging vintage with an overabundance of rain, therefore only one (hand) harvest was made. The Solo cuvée was not produced.  After harvesting, approximately 70% of the grapes were then fermented in Botti, the remaining 30% in Amphorae.  The wine was macerated with the skins for around 70 days.  Only indigenous yeast, no filtration, no treatments.  The botti were sprayed with about 10mg/liter of sulfur about 2 weeks before the harvest to “sterilize”.  The Amphorae were not sprayed.

There were two bottlings for the declassified 2005 vintage.  The wine fermented and aged in Amphorae has an orange stripe on the label.  The wine fermented and aged in Botti has a green stripe on the label.  This bottle was the Amphorae version.  Price in Norwegian Kroner is 320 ($50)

2009-06-02_620091682

Appearance: Apricot, amber color. Clean. Medium plus intensity.

Nose: Spice, Cinnamon. Kumquat, Umami and orange peel.  Very intense and complex nose.  Keeps you going back to the glass to smell and smell again.  Also leaves the impression that this wine could be very fruity or even sweet.

Palate: Medium tannins and extremely focused fruit.  Orange peel and touches of spice.  Medium plus, mature acidity with a smooth, long and elegant finish.  Bone dry.  Really complex with some minerality on the finish.  Best enjoyed at closer to room temperature.  Goes very well with mature goat cheese.  I have also found success pairing this wine with pork belly in an Asian inspired sauce.

Although extremely enjoyable now in it’s youth, the wine’s concentration indicates to me the potential to lay down in the cellar for 5-8 years; perhaps more.

2009-06-02_620091683

Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy, natural wine (100% living wine), orange wine

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Vinosseur is the company name of sommelier Joseph R. Di Blasi. Vinosseur.com is his web page where he writes about wine, food, restaurants and other gastronomic experiences.

Joseph has a special place in his heart for quality wines from the old world, especially France & Italy, with a strong focus on Organic, Biodynamic and Natural wines.

Joseph grew up in Italy and California, but left The States in 2002 and now resides in Poland.

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Joseph would love to hear from you! You can contact him by email at vinosseur@gmail.com