With the spring weather arriving, the Hotel Monaco in Venice was filled with interested wine drinkers eager to learn more about the 40 wine producers present from Friuli and Slovenia. ’Gradito il Abito Rosso,’ or ‘Appreciate the Red Dress,’ is the second wine event presented by Fisar. They wanted to get people interested in and learn more about the hearty, domestic Friulan reds like Schioppetino, Refrosco, Pignolo and Terrano, as well as international ones like Merlot and Cabernet. Typically, Friuli is known more for its white wines, especially from the area of Carso, where the ground is made of limestone and therefor produces a fresh taste to the wine. But, the reds from this area are equally interesting and have a long history in the region. At the event there were many wine producers I had already known, like our good friend Marco Cecchini, who presented his ‘Careme,’ a blend of Merlot, Cabernet and Refosco; and 2 different years of his Refosco. The Refosco grape/wine is thick skinned and dark. It has strong red and blue fruit flavors and is great for aging. Marco explained to us that many producers are ripping up these indigenous vines to plant more internationally known types and how it’s unfortunate because these grapes are part of the history of Friuli. It’s a great wine, intense and tannic which I personally think would sell amazingly in the US market, especially when paired with a nice juicy steak! Some other producers whom I found interesting were Borgo delle Oche, Jacùss, Petrussa, Muzic, Ronco Servero’s fantastic Merlot and La Ponca, who presented another interesting Friulan wine called Schiopettino. This wine, in general, is known for its spice, and La Ponca did it perfectly. Aged for 18 months, it has hints of vanilla and leather which balanced nicely with the spice and made you feel warm all over. Fiegl, from the Gorizia area, poured a 13 year old Merlot, which still seemed as fresh as it was made yesterday. Davidè Feresin was probably the most interesting find, with a fantastic Refosco called ‘Nero di Botte.’
Of course, we can’t forget about the Slovenian wines. Terrano, a thicker and more tannic brother to the Refosco, is what was presented at large and paired often with the international grapes. Simcic had absolutely fantastic wines, although a tad pricey, with my favorite being a Pinot noir, which was soft, velvety, balanced and had hints of raisins. MonteMoro and Guerila poured great Terrano while Skerk and Kante led the pack.
Towards the end of the day. we had the chance to take part in a tasting of a wine called Pignolo. This rare wine has changed a lot over the years and it too is being ripped out to be replaced by Merlot and Cabernet. Six producers presented their product. From a younger, more vegetable tasting wine by Ermacora to a slightly sweet, amarone styled Pignolo by Castello di Buttrio. The tasting proved that this type of wine is better with age and deserves it’s time to shine among the big wines like Barolo and Brunello. I can’t say how many of these wines or producers sell their wines outside of Italy, but all are happy to send bottles to wherever you live.