Italy is not just about visiting the big cities like Rome and Florence. Italy is culture. Italy is food, wine and beautiful countrysides. So with friends in town, we thought we would bring them to the hills of Friuli, to learn about wine from a winemaker himself.
We had organized ahead of time to stop for lunch and a tour at our friend, Marco Cecchini’shouse. Marco, whose vineyards lie around the city of Cormons, has been making wine for 10 years, after his father asked him to watch over their plot. It wasn’t his first choice in work, but with time outside working in the dirt, he grew to love his work and appreciate the time spent outdoors with nature. After showing us the sprouting leaves on the vines and the dusty soil around them- it hadn’t rained in a long time- we sat down for lunch. While his girlfriend prepared the pasta, Marco brought out some local cheese and a bottle of his Tovè. This white wine is easy to drink, full of wild flower and lemon grass aromas and is a blend of the Friulano and Verduzzo grapes. These warm, citric tastes paired with the Frant, a cheese made from diverse cheeses from Carnia (an area in Friuli) which are crumbled and mixed with pepper and cream. He let us try a bottle of the ’99 harvest of the Tovè to see the difference in how the wine evolves in time and to show us that his skill as a winemaker came with time and that the wine was not perfect in the beginning. In fact, in the ’99 vintage, he had used much more of the Verduzzo grape, rendering the wine to be fruitier but also harder and more bitter. The pasta was then brought out and served in a sauce of fresh asparagus and leek. With this, we drank a bottle of his Riesling- a grape which is fuller and attaches itself to the palate. An aromatic grape, which makes it seem sweeter than a typical wine, Marco’s version still had a high minerality, balancing the wine. The second course, was a pork roast wrapped in phyllo dough and spinach. Needing a red wine, we opened a bottle of Refosco, the king of Friuli. Intense and deep in color, fragrances of spice, musk and berries filled our noses. It’s only aged slightly, making it a delicate and elegant wine, perfect for an afternoon party. Last but not least, we sipped at a bottle of Verlit. A dessert wine made from the Verduzzo grape, it is strong and bold and even better when paired with cookies.
Four hours of eating and drinking had made us sleepy, yet happy. Not wanting the day to end, we took our time getting up from the table and headed over to the car. After pictures and hugs, we waved goodbye with a trunk full of wine for the future. Thanks to Marco and Valentina for a beautiful day.