One of the side effects of having grown migrating between Anchorage in the Winters, and the Western Coast of Alaska in the Summers, then taking up a career in academia (where summers are markedly different from the school year), is that I still plan summer like it is time to do everything.
As a result, I’ll be out of Arizona for over two months with visits to New York City; the coast of California; Seattle; the fishing grounds of Bristol Bay, Alaska; Pinot country in Oregon; the wine and desert of Eastern Washington; and perhaps even a quick pop into Okenagan, British Columbia. My plan is to go ahead and do and write wine everything (at least, within the United States).
First up, I’m on the way to New York City for a week of walking around seeing city stuff (Flagstaff is beautiful but I long for city stimulus by now), and doing wine related activities. There are a number of people I’m very much looking forward to seeing. (Yay!)
During my week, one of my plans is to hunt Schioppettino–the wild, juicy wine from Friuli-Venezia Giulia. It’s harder to get in the United States but a number of importers and retail shops carry it in NYC.
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As those of you that followed along on the #cof2012 trip know, our group was pretty obsessed with the wild berry, slightly saline, earthy, medium-bodied loveliness of Colli Orientali del Friuli’s Schioppettino varietals.
While there we were lucky enough to attend a Schioppettino focused dinner hosted by the Association of Schioppettino Producers of Prepatto, which included tasting 15-20 varietals, and one lovely, well-executed Schioppettino-Refosco blend by Sacrisassi, all from the Prepatto region. The Association regulates the production choices of wine makers to some degree, including minimum durations of oak influence and aging in bottle before sale, in order to preserve a focus of quality and style for the grape. Additionally, we tasted varietals from the likes of Ronchi di Cialla, Ronco del Gnemiz, Toblar and others, some of whom are outside the Association and outside Prepatto and therefore produce a lighter, juicier style for the grape.
Part of what fascinates me about Schioppettino is simply how localized it remains. Studies have shown so many different clones for this one grape all in the particular subzone of Prepatto that scientists are comfortable claiming it to be an ancient variety. Additionally, the vines particularly flourish within the zone of Friuli that is Prepatto, with its 23 different micro-climates, each sustained within Prepatto’s relatively small amphitheatre shaped landscape.
Schioppettino is the one grape indigenous to the region that really does grow uniquely in one appellation alone–Colli Orientali del Friuli. Prepatto is its primary home, with it growing minimally outside its amphitheatre. (Some people are currently experimenting with trying the grape in California but the vines are still too young to know yet how they will do in the New World–if anyone has more information on this project, I’d love to hear more about it.)
While we were lucky enough to taste much of all the Schioppettino produced on the planet, only a few currently make it into the United States. For those of you in North America, that, like me, wish to drink more of this tasty grape, three of the stand out producers brought into the United States include La Viarta, available from Kermit Lynch Wine; Ronco del Gnemiz, available in very low quantities from Italian Wine Merchant; and Ronchi di Cialla.
If you’re wondering how the heck to pronounce the grape’s name, check out Do Bianchi’s video from his Italian Grape Name Pronunciation Project. We were lucky enough to spend an afternoon with Ivan who pronounces it for us here.
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