In 1977, as Lorenzo Mocchiutti’s grandfather was optimistically planting his Schioppettino (skee-oh-pay-TEEN-oh) vines in the northeastern Italian province of Udine, the grape variety’s future remained uncertain. The Rapuzzi family of nearby Ronchi di Cialla had recently discovered and revived the last remaining Schioppettino vines, but regional bureaucrats didn’t share their zeal for the grape’s preservation, much less its promotion. When Lorenzo’s grandfather, an early believer, planted his vines, Schioppettino-based wines were allowed to be legally sold only as “red” wine. Fortunately, many vignerons, wine drinkers, and engaged citizens in the area saw the grape’s potential and, in 1978, convinced the local authorities to give Schioppettino its proper due—and its earned placement on the label. As a result of their persistence, today we have gorgeous reds like this one—from forty-two-year-old vines now tended by Lorenzo—which proves once again that Italy’s once again that Italy’s relatively obscure native varieties can propduce wines as compelling and delicious as the Pinots, Syrahs, and Cabernets you already love. Vignai da Duline’s Schioppettino is delicate and silky, evoking black cherries, blackberries, and black pepper. Next time you’re in the mood for a lighter red from Burgundy or Beaujolais, pull this bottle instead. You’ll be thrilled to have added a new wine full of finesse to your rotation.
In the late 1990s Lorenzo Mocchiutti and wife Federica Magrini inherited a few hectares of vines from Lorenzo's grandfather. These vineyards, mostly neglected for decades, were planted primarily with old vines of local grape varieties like Tocai Giallo, Malvasia Istriana, as well as common varieties like Pinot Grigio, and Merlot. This husband and wife team sum up their respectful, holistic approach to vineyard management best: We believe our wines can convey our respect for the delicate balance of our environment, the care and personal attention we afford to every stage of the production process, and our pursuit of the highest quality wine and viticulture. The grapes carry a memory of the earth they grew in.
Friuli may be forever tied to its bland, acidic Pinot Grigios, which at one point saturated the export market, but a deeper look reveals a captivating array of unique grape-growing sites, distinctive indigenous varieties, and passionate small growers keen on preserving a rich tradition of winemaking.
Here in Italy’s northeast corner, the region is shared between the Julian Alps in the north and plains leading to the Adriatic Sea in the south, bound by the Veneto to the west and Slovenia to the east. While it is one of the wettest regions of Italy—and all of Europe, for that matter—Friuli benefits from the push-and-pull of cool air currents from the mountains meeting warmer breezes from the Adriatic. A crescent-shaped slice of foothills, where both play a role, tends to produce the region’s finest wines.
Nothing is more emblematic to Friulian wine than a crisp, peachy Ribolla Gialla served with thinly sliced prosciutto San Daniele, a local specialty. And yet, this only begins to tell the story: high-acid, mineral-driven whites from a number of local varieties including Tocai Friulano, Pinot Grigio, and Malvasia range from light and crisp to powerful and age-worthy, complementing Adriatic shellfish, hearty mountain cheeses, and everything in between. Native reds like Schioppettino, Terrano, and Refosco all have something unique to say, while there has even been significant success with French varieties like Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Merlot, all long established in the region.
Friuli’s diversity is its strength, and it keeps us coming back for more. In fact, Kermit imported one of the region’s first organic growers toward the start of his career; our more recent collaboration with producers like Vignai da Duline is a testament to the enormous potential when devoted artisans put their hearts into Friuli’s fascinating terroir.
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