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Friuli Venezia Giulia Native Vines – Second Part
Rosa D'Ancona – July 30, 2007



Native White Vines

  Picolit
  Picolit
  Ribolla Gialla
  Ribolla Gialla
  Scialin
  Scialin
  Tocai Friulano
  Tocai Friulano
  Ucelut
  Ucelut
  Verduzzo Friulano
  Verduzzo Friulano
  Vitovska
  Vitovska
  Forgiarin
  Forgiarin
  Pignolo
  Pignolo
  Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso
  Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso
  Schioppettino
  Schioppettino
  Tazzelenghe
  Tazzelenghe
  Terrano
  Terrano
   

Picolit
This ancient vine is believed to have been cultivated as far back as in Roman times, and it is a well known fact that by the 18th century it was poured at the tables of all the European kingdoms. The great diffusion of this wine at the time was mainly due to Count Fabio Asquini from Fagagna, who shipped as many as 100,000 characteristic bottles of it, made with pure hand-blown Murano glass tinted in light green, and containing around one quarter of a liter (0.264 quart).

This grape variety undergoes a particular natural phenomenon called acinellatura. Because of this, only a few grapes per bunch ripen completely, thus the fruit is extremely rich in sugar content.

The resulting dessert wine is golden yellow in color, its scent is delicately perfumed and reminiscent of acacia blooms. The flavor is sweet, warm, harmonious and delicate.

Ribolla Gialla
This vine, typical in the eastern hills of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region and, across the Italian national border, in Slovenia has been cultivated in the area since time immemorial. The oldest known document mentioning it dates back to the end of the Middle Ages. Some scholars believe that it derives from the Avola grape, imported by the Romans when they colonized this part of Europe, however there are no historic documents to support this theory.

The wine has different intensities of straw yellow color, the scent is delicate, and in the mouth it is dry, lively and fresh.

Scialin
This variety is known locally with different dialect synonyms, such as Sciarlin, Sciablin, Schablin, Scharlina and S'ciablin: each name of this typical Friuli vine derives from the word s'ciale, which means terrazzed field.

Historic documents mention its cultivation on the Spilimbergo hills in the 15th century. In the book entitled "Asio: studi inediti di Mons. Pietro dr. Fabrici", published back then it is said: "The vineyard to the south consists almost entirely of a single variety called schiadina by the local peasants... in some areas it produces excellent wines, appreciated because of their delicacy and sweet taste". A wine "which can be somewhat tart, but apt to be preserved for up to 10-12 years of age and, as it gets older, it becomes softer and acquires a flavor which can stand up to the best Rhine wines".

Cultivated extensively in its traditional area until around 50 years ago, the production diminished gradually because of its late ripening and the expanding of the surrounding woods. The preservation of this variety is due almost exclusively to the work of Emilio Bulfon.

Tocai Friulano
One of the landmark Friuli native white grape vines, the Tocai Friulano is a very different variety from the one used to produce the famous Hungarian Tokaj dessert wine, though some maintain that the Tocai plant was sent to Hungary from Friuli in the 13th century by Bertoldo from Andechs.

In any case, the origin of the Friuli variety is unknown, despite the fact that some wine historians believe that is derived from the Sauvignonasse variety.

The wine has a straw yellow color, which can be more or less deep. The perfume is characteristic and delicate, with almondy nuances. The flavor is fruity, delicate, soft and velvety, thanks to the low acidity.

Ucelut
This native vine is locally known also as Uccellut or Ucielute, but it must not be mistaken with the Oselot and Ucelin varieties, which are cultivated in various parts of the Tre Venezie (Three Venices, or the group of northeasternmost Italian regions: Veneto, Trentino Alto Adige, and Friuli Venezia Giulia) and Piedmont. Not much it is known about the origin of this vine, beside the fact that it is part of the so-called uve uccelline (bird's grapes, Molon, 1906), or grapes which grew at the edge of forests and were eaten by birds (uccello in Italian means bird).

This variety was presented at the 1863 Udine Exhibition, and the following year cultivation was started at the breeding center of the Stabilimento Agro-orticolo (Agricultural-Garden Establishment), with vines selected in what was believed to be the original production areas, in the villages of Ramuscello and San Giovanni. The zone of Castelnovo was mentioned as the production area fro the variety at the Udine Exhibition of 1921.

Verduzzo Friulano
One of the most ancient regional vines, the Verduzzo Friulano takes its name probably from the color of its grapes. This wine was know as far back as the beginning of the 15th century. It is almost certain that it was served to Pope Gregorio XII in 1409, when he was in Friuli to participate in the General Council which took place in that year.

There are two different varieties: one with green grapes and one with yellow grapes, known also as Ramandolo. The green variety is cultivated mostly in the low plains and produces dry wines. The yellow grape-producing variety is considered the classic vine, and produces great quality wines with late-harvested grapes, or pressing partially withered grapes.

The sweet Verduzzo variety has an intense yellow color, substantial alcoholic content and is sweet to the palate. The perfume is fruity, in the mouth it is slightly tannic and robust, with all elements perfectly mixed in an organic structure. The dry Verduzzo has a light yellow color, its alcohol content is medium, and it has robust body and citrus flavor.

Vitovska
The Vitoska vine is considered a native variety, as it is found nowhere else in the Mediterranean area and its history is part of the local traditions. Brought back from oblivion thanks to the knowledgeable work and commitment of a handful of producers who have believed in the potential quality of this grape.

The wine is straw yellow in color, and the perfume is fruity and winey. To the palate it is slightly acidic, sapid and shows good body.

Native Red Vines

Forgiarin
In and around the villages of Castelnovo, Valeriano, Pinzano, and on the hills to the north of Spilimbergo, in an area which is part of the DOC Grave zone, four ancient native vines have survived. They are Forgiarin, Piculit-neri, Sciaglin and Ucelut. The recovery of these varieties is due to Emilio Bulfon who, starting in 1964 in the town of Valeriano, started a long and painstacking selection and, in 1970, produced the first varietal wines from these grapes.

Not much is known of the history of the Forgiarin and it is believed that the name derives from Forgaria, a village in the western part of Friuli. At the Regional Grape Exhibition organized in 1863 by the Udine chapter of the Associazione Agraria Friulana (Friuli Agricultural Association), the San Daniele hills were indicated as the typical production area. In later year, the author Pirona (1871-1935) expanded the production area to Spilimbergo and Maniago.

Pignolo
The name derives from the form of the bunches, which are small and firm, reminiscent of a pine cone (pigna, in Italian). It is certainly an important variety, possibly bound for a successful comeback.

Its presence in the region has been documented since 1398, when Francesco from Carrara requested the Serenissima (as the Maritime Republic of Venice was know at the time) a permit to ship 20 barrels of Pignolo from Rosazzo, from Friuli to Padua, for his own use and well-being, following the advice of his doctor.

The Pignolo roots are traced to the vineyards of the Rosazzo Abbey, where it was probably originally planted by the Benedictine monks. The wine produced with this grapes is of extremely high quality. The color is intense ruby red, with complex perfume and important structure. It is considered one of the Friuli wines that improves with ageing, producing results that stand up to the most noble Italian red wines.

Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso
The Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso is the most noble among the Friuli native vines and takes its name from the red coloring of the stem (peduncolo, or pedicello).

The most credited theory has this vine as the direct progeny of the celebrated Pucinum, which was the favorite red wine of Livia, the second wife of the Roman Emperor Augusto.

The wine has deep red color and intense perfume. In the mouth it is sapid, slightly tannic, with good body and almondy after taste.

Schioppettino
The name of this vine, which risked extinction after the phyllossera epidemic of the early 1900s, it is believed to derive from the characteristic of the grapes, which are so tightly filled to "explode" (schioppettare) in the mouth.  This vine is part of the Ribolla family type, in fact, it is know also as Ribolla Nera (Black Ribolla), and, across the Slovenian border, Pocalza. The place of origin of this vine is in fact in the area of Prepotto and cross the Slovenian border. Mention of this wine is found in documents dating back to 1282, when it was poured at the Rieppi-Caucig wedding, in Prepotto.

The modern Schioppettino is a ruby red colored wine which turns to garnet-red with ageing. The rich perfume is reminiscent of fruits and in the mouth it is full, typical and dry.

Tazzelenghe
The Tazzelenghe is a red grape native vine originating from the hilly area surrounding the towns of Buttrio and Cividale. The name, in local dialect, means "tong slicing", in reference to the pronounced roughness of the wine's flavor, which has high natural acidity, sometimes exalted by extending the grape maceration, thus enhancing the tannins. The "tong slicing" characteristic is found in the fruit as well, when served as table grapes.

The Tazzelenghe varietal is a high quality, precious wine, which needs years of age to soften the high tannins content. The color is purply-red which turns to garnet-red with ageing. The perfume is characteristic and the flavor is robust, tannic, grassy and dry.

Terrano
The Terrano vine is found exclusively in the very unique environment of the Carso mountain area, overlooking the coast of Trieste. The characteristic red soil where the vineyards are cultivated is due to the high iron content. This terroir characteristic, along with the temperate and the excellent sun exposure, give unmistakable flavor and aroma to the wine.

This vine, which is possibly derived from the Refosco from Istria, known also as Refosco dal Peduncolo Verde (Refosco with the Green Stem), produces a wine of deep, intense ruby red color, with purple highlights. The perfume is rich, reminiscent of wild forest berries. The flavor is strong, acidic and, at first, a little offish.

Outstanding Producers of DOC Wines

Label: Ramandolo Ramandus

Label: Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso Colli Orientali del Friuli

Label: COF Picolit

Label: Collio Ribolla Gialla

Label: Friuli Grave Tocai

Label: Carso Vitovska

Label: Isonzo del Friuli Bianco Vignis di Siris

Label: Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso



 
 
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