Vignai Da Duline
by Anthony Lynch
When Lorenzo Mocchiutti and Federica Magrini inherited some vineyards in 1997 and made the choice to become full-time vignerons, it meant more than just making wine. They adhere to the idea that a winegrower is a custodian of the land, and the bottles they produce incarnate a sensible and calculated worldview that rejects industrialized agriculture while honoring Friuli’s farming and winemaking traditions. None of that would matter if their wines could not go toe to toe with the very best, but their creations stand tall among the most characterful wines we import from any region. Made of low yields from indigenous grape varieties, their wines concentrate mineral essences from the rocky soils of Friuli’s verdant foothills. These new releases represent the pinnacle of artisanal craftsmanship, offering stimulating refreshment and a delicious sense of place from the first pour to the last drop.
Ronco Pitotti is a terraced amphitheater planted to old clones of local varieties including nearly four acres of Pinot Grigio up to eighty years in age. The juice is intensely mineral, hinting at wet stone and almonds, with a textural fullness and depth acquired through barrel aging and malolactic fermentation. A stark contrast with generic, mass-produced examples of Pinot Grigio, this wine is an ideal companion to shellfish.
Morus alba is the botanical name for the white mulberry tree, which was commonly grown in Friuli for the once thriving textile industry (the leaves are used to feed silkworms for commercial silk production). Grapevines were often trained high on the trees, a traditional system known as vite maritate (“married vines”) that is immortalized on the label. Duline’s Morus Alba is a different kind of marriage, wedding two grape varieties—Malvasia Istriana and Sauvignon—from two distinct vineyard sites. United in bottle, they create a captivating medley of lush citrus and florals, at once creamy and slightly briny. Richly textured and built to age, it is the ultimate match for a seafood risotto.
Morus Nigra, named for the black mulberry, is the red counterpart to Morus Alba. Produced from a local biotype of the Refosco grape (peduncolo rosso denotes its characteristic red stalks), it is also the union of Duline’s two terroirs. Federica and Lorenzo planted mulberry trees and other native vegetation all around the vineyards to foster an oasis of biodiversity isolated from the outside world, the symbiosis with local fauna and flora keeping their vines healthy and vibrant. The energy is palpable in this red’s vivid perfume of tart wild berries, iron, and plums. Lovely now with a slight chill, their Refosco has a stimulating, stony backbone that ensures a slow evolution through the years.