Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Red from Friuli: Schioppettino

Last week wine bloggers pulled the corks on a variety of white wines from the north-eastern Italian wine region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. This week, I turned to the red side of the wine spectrum, and opened a bottle of wine made with the Friuli indigenous grape variety Schioppettino.

Schioppettino gets its name, some say, from the fact that when it is bottled young, the wine completes its fermentation in the bottle and can get slightly fizzy. "Schioppettino" means "little crackle" in Italian, and probably refers to the sensation of snap, crackle, and pop that you get when you drink this wine. Some, however, say the same "little crackle" comes from the Syrah-like pepperiness that you can taste on your tongue. Schioppettino is also known as Ribolla Nera, and can be traced back in the records to at least the 13th century.

The 2005 Ermacora Colli Orientali de Friuli Schioppettino is made from this indigenous rarity. (K & L Wines, $14.99) When I opened it and poured the first glass, the characteristic fizz was there and I have to say I didn't quite know what to do with it in a dry, red wine. It wasn't as fizzy as lambrusco, but it was definitely there, prickling away at your tongue. When it first opened up it had a funny smell of bandaids, pine and cherry. The bandaid mercifully blew off, leaving pine and sour cherry. The cherry sweetened up in your mouth, and turned to a happy, Bing cherry note in the aftertaste. I drank this over two nights to see what would happen to the fizz, and it wasn't until the last dregs of the last glass on day #2 that the fizz disappeared.

This wine, for all its strange qualities, does fit the wine's varietal profile and at just under $15, represents very good QPR for those who are Schioppettino fans. For those who aren't, you may feel this wine is a tad overpriced for a simple, quaffable red. I'm glad I had it for my Wine Century, and that I will be able to recognize it if I ever see it on a wine list, but I'm not sure I'll be ordering a case any time soon! Schioppettino experts, I'm looking forward to your reactions to this post, along with any tips about aging the wine, decanting, etc., that you may have.


Orion Slayer said...

How do you know how to pronounce Schioppettino? Did the wine go well with what you ate with it? When I was doing research on Friuli wines for WBW, I read about Refosco. How does Schioppettino compare with Refosco? Thanks for posting on such an unique wine!

Alfonso Cevola said...

Nice post... I haved admired Schioppettino since my first trip to Buttrio (in Friuli), a million years ago. Wonderful to have someone write about this's what makes Italy the fountain of inspiration for wine lovers around the globe.

And an excellent value @ $15.

pronunciation is Ski-ohp-pet-tee-no

Another interesting red wine from those parts is Tazzelenghe. I first had one from Girolomo Dorigo (in Buttrio)

a salute'

Grape King said...

Nice review! While venturing into good QPR Italians, why not try some Ripasso? They can usually be found for around $15 and have some very interesting profiles... I poked around a bit but didn't see any past reviews on these wines..

Dr. Debs said...

Great questions as usual, Orion Slayer. I think Alfonso covered pronunciation (thank God for my limited Italian--I actually got this one right in my head), and I've never had Refosco, so can't compare. For food we had it one night with risotto with butternut squash, sage, and parmesan (nice) and the other night with gnocchi with a cream sauce and ham (also nice). Alfonso, I am loving drinking these Italian varieties--so I will look for Tazzelenghe. And I will try some Ripasso as soon as I get out of Friuli and into the right region, Grape King. Stay tuned...

Alfonso Cevola said...

This is not the final word on how Ripasso is made ( I have since uncovered at least 2 other ways winemakers use to make Ripasso) but it will give a little understanding of the process.