Azienda Agricola Emiro Bortolusso, Carlino, Friuli

Following our “sharks teeth” theory of wine (that when producers price themselves out of their segment there are always three more lying in wait behind them), we went looking for a nice full service cantina in Friuli to replace some old friends whose wines we (and you!) can’t afford anymore. Eco la! La Familia Bortolusso are very nice folks making good honest wines at reasonable prices so we cut a deal with them.

The estate include 40 hectares of vineyards but also many lagoons where sea bass and gilthead bream are bred for local markets. They are leaders in both quality and value for their zone and make all of their wines from their own carefully tended vines (where no pesticides are used and the only fertilizer is organic manure and compost). These are grown in a zone that hugs the Adriatic coast and has a history of wine production dating to Roman times.

Bortolusso Franconia delle Venezie 2007  Sold Out, New Vintage Soon!

A local specialty, this IS something completely different: really soft and smooth in the mouth a with an exotic, foxy / spicy note wafting out of the glass. Just add hearty sausages and maybe some polenta with gorgonzola.

 

Bortolusso Schioppettino delle Venezie 2007  Sold Out, New Vintage Soon!

Varieties you need to meet, #32 in a series: Schioppettino! Sometimes we just like to psych out our Italian vendors by doing things like putting a pallet (56 cases) of an obscure, hard to find even in the zone wine like this as the first item you see when you come in the door. It puts them on notice that trying to sling some overpriced Tuscan Merlot at us will not be in their future and, hopefully, inspires them to look deep into their books and find those much more interesting but overlooked wines that we can give a home to at a drastically reduced price. An overwhelming hit with us at VinItaly 2008, nearly exploding with bright berry flavors and the explosively zesty spice that caused the Friulani to name this grape after the sound of a shotgun: Schioppettino means “ricochet” or “buckshot” in the local dialect!

 

Jacùss (Azienda Agricola Iacuzzi), Montina di Torreano, Friuli

Sandro and Andrea Iacuzzi are fun guys and make a range of good wines in a lighter, fresher, food friendly style (excepting their insanely concentrated Picolit) on their 10 hectare estate which they founded in 1990.

Jacùss Collio Orientali del Friuli Schioppettino Fuc & Flamis 2005

100% Schioppettino, a local variety whose name translates as “gunshot” (as in buckshot, not the noise) which has been grown in the zona since the 13th century. The name of this bottling is dialect for “fire and flames” and was created during a brainstorming / drinking session on a cold winter night dedicated to finding a “new identity” for this unique wine. After several hours of discarded names someone said “met su un lèn tè’l fuc!” (dialect for “metti un legno nel fuoco!” meaning throw another log on the fire) and Sandro exclaimed “Fuc? Fuc, fuc …Fuc… Fuc e Flàmis! Eccolo il nome!” (“fire? fire, fire…fire…Fire and Flames! That’s the name!”). The wine is made from grapes that are air dried for 20 days before pressing to concentrate the perfumes and flavors of wild Maraschino Cherries (native to the zona, nearly black and spicy/bitter, the red sticky sweet ones you see here are industrial travesties), forest berries and exotic spices. Sandro recommends it with “first courses with a sauce of game meats followed by a main course of roast game”!!!

 

Jacùss Collio Orientali del Friuli Tazzelenghe 2005

Tazzelenghe is another local grape with a very distinct personality: the name means “tongue cutter” (but, as comedian Dom Irrera would say, “And you know I mean that in a good way”) and derives from the intense acidity of the variety which is well suited to the local cuisine which combines Slavic and Italian influences. Briary, wild, spicy, yummy, exotic, more please….

 

Ronco del Gelso di Badin Giorgio, Cormons, Friuli

Ronco del Gelso (“the hill of the mulberry tree”) is a very serious and famous estate making a broad range of wines but particularly famous for their Merlot, Tocai and Malvasia. Their 15 hectares of vines are located on the right bank of the Isonzo river in a part of the Friuli Isonzo DOC which, due to the deep gravely soil and the cycle of warm daytime winds from the Adriatic and cool nighttime breezes from the mountains to the north, makes so many fabulous and unique wines that it is now being split into sub-zonas with their own DOCs such as Gesimis, Rive Alte and Rive di Giare. Giorgio and his family are true superstars of their zona and we are THRILLED to present their wines to you:

Ronco del Gelso Merlot 2005, Friuli Isonzo Rive Alte

This is what these guys are famous for and, if you are going to sell Merlot, it might as well be a really good one (and at a good price compared to Cult California and Right Bank Bordeaux). Deeply powerful and commanding yet elegant, sexy and silky (and just 13%), this reminds us of Nina Simone singing a slow, teasing blues that draws you in further with every phrase. We LOVE Giorgio’s description in his sales brochure: “It leaves a creamy and committed mouth but without unnecessary jam overtones.” True ‘dat!