The region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia in northeastern Italy is primarily known for white wines. There are some stunning exceptions.
Mystery In A Bottle
During a recent dinner, we had progressed through the few bottles I had planned for the evening. The crowd wanted more.
I went to our upstairs wine rack, which is usually a mish-mash of odds and ends. The first bottle that was at hand was this one – the Zaglia Refosco from Italy.
The bottle was picked up at a charity event. I paid some money for a cork and when the number on my cork was drawn, I was able to select from the assortment of wine bottles. I had an insider tip that this was a great bottle that had been hand carried from Italy.
Uncork The Night
I had no idea of the type of wine or grape. I saw that it was from Friuli and ventured a guess that it might be a Merlot. This rang true with my taste buds as the wine was rippling with ripe fruit and had a nice soft mouth feel.
What I later discovered is that I was sampling an entirely new grape for me: Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso. The best known grape from Friuli is a white one, Friulano, which produces crisp white wines. The region does produce Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, but the best known local red grape is Refosco dal Peduncolo, which is different from regular Refosco.
The wine and the grape are both impressive. It is full bodied with some herbal notes dancing around with blueberry flavors and perhaps plum. This wine, being a 2012, was still going strong and could age even more.
Romans Were Loving This Grape
Refosco has been known for ages. Historian Pliny the Elder praised its quality back in the first century. The wine was also a favorite of the wife of Augustus Caesar. In more contemporary times, Refosco experienced a revival in the 1980s when more wines made from the grape were exported.
As our group sipped the wine, we didn’t know the historic roots or even the name of the grape, but the wine made an impression. If you can find it, you can expect this wine to be priced between $10 and $15. We think it’s a good buy at twice the price. Ciao!