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Daily Archives: Apr 23, 2012

The truth is most of my earliest formative wine drinking experiences showed themselves alongside my sister, Melanie, often with her instigating the wine selections.

from left to right–Melanie, Me, Paula

She introduced me to my first Burgundy. (It changed my life–I became a dedicated red wine drinker because of it.)

I don’t believe she introduced me to champagne. But I fell hard into a glass of bubbles and a long standing love affair with sparkling wine because of her (bubbles might honestly be my best romantic relationship (so far)). Together we’ve had more grower’s champagne, and more expensive champagne than with anyone else (and more champagne in one day together than with anyone else too, if I’m honest). She also promises to take me to Champagne for my 40th birthday, and I plan to hold her to it. (She has a few years to get us there.)

from left to right, me and Melanie HONEST TO GOD getting dressed up to walk into the living room and drink champagne–we’re enthusiastic like that (except we likely posed to take this blast picture only because we were already part way down a bottle while getting dressed up)

Today, April 23, is her birthday. Lots of Love to you, Melanie. You are my sister.

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Cheers too to our sister Paula! I’m lucky to have such damn good siblings in both Melanie and Paula, who while a willing wine drinker is a less dedicated one. Can’t hold that against her, she’s still from damn good stock.

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One of the insights of our visit to Colli Orientali del Friuli was how readily the region produces white wines that age well. A number of our winery visits included older white wines with their wine makers showcasing these bottles in order to share with us first hand the treasure developed in the appellation.

At Specogna it was a 1998 Chardonnay with incredible vibrancy. Conte d’ Attimis-Maniago let us select a 1997 Friulano that even having originally been made to drink young still carried fresh and lively aromatics. Ronchi di Cialla finished our lunch with a 1983 Verduzzo that brought together a mouth gripping texture with concentrated fruit and nut flavors. Livio Felluga offered a side by side tasting of their Terre Alte blend–1997, 1999, and then, for comparison, 2009. In each case, with differing white grape types, the wines were ready to drink, and enjoy.

Livio Felluga

A Missoni Rendition of the Livio Felluga Label

Planting his wine passion in 1956, Livio Felluga helped develop the wine industry of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Beginning his vineyard projects immediately after the region became part of the country of Italy, Felluga faced the challenges of a post-war countryside. The region had suffered particular economic hardships during the World Wars, and though historical vineyards still stood through the hillsides of the border area most were abandoned or severely damaged as a result of the mid-century difficulties. Additionally, many indigenous grapes were no longer being produced as international varieties had been planted through the region during the post-phylloxera revitalization. Felluga focused his efforts on identifying vineyards still healthy enough to be restored, and on planting new vines in suitable soil through the Colli Orientali and Collio appellations.

Today, the winery of Livio Felluga is managed by his four sons and daughter, but as his daughter told us, Livio still visits the vines regularly, taking time to walk through his vineyards and check their overall health.

Inspired by the history of his region, Felluga chose a portion from a historical map of the area as his original label. Considered unique, the label has been celebrated by artists and writers from around the world as an expression of Felluga’s joy for the region he helped root a vibrant wine industry within.

Livio Felluga Terre Alte

click on comic to enlarge

One of the signature white blends of the Livio Felluga winery, the Terre Alte celebrates a blend of Friulano, Sauvignon, and Pinot Bianco. As they explain, there is no formula for the blend. Instead, the character of the vintage determines what will best balance the quality of the three grapes within the bottle.

The Felluga family selected two older vintages of the Terre Alte for us to taste specifically so we could experience directly how well Colli Orientali del Friuli does in producing long lived white wines. They then also set a more recent vintage of the same blend alongside as comparison.

The 1997 and 1999 both showed vibrant and bright in the glass, very much ready to drink and enjoy now. As Jeremy described, the 1997 drank as a wine stretching its muscles–focused on fitness–while the 1999 carried itself more comfortably “like it was wearing a suit and ready to go out to dinner”–focused on style. To put it another way, the 1999 was more comfortable in the glass. Both showed impressive structure, and freshness both, while the 1999 felt rounder and the 1997 leaner on the palate. Each, admittedly, also showed as very slightly oxidized, though the 1999 was more so.

The newer vintage, the 2009, offered a more candied character while also a more precise expression, and crisper overall mouth feel.

Thank you very much to the Felluga family and winery for hosting us at the tasting room, and afterwards for lunch. We were able to eat at their Agriturismo across the street from the tasting room. The food and company carried a wonderful balance of rich flavor and lightness that led me to tell Whitney that the lunch was deepening my capacity for joy. The whole day really did. As mentioned in a previous post, Chris and I spent much of the meal nodding across the table at each other in appreciation of the food. He took some wonderful pictures of it as well. What a treat!

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