Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ronchi di Cialla - The Best Italian Whites, IMHO...

Picture late May and you’ve just come off a 10 hour connected flight horror show, piled 7 adults in a mini-van and drove an hour to Friuli. After multiple tastings, you wander hungry and exhausted back in the van. Finally, you drive up a dusty, windy hill that opens up into a plateau with a gorgeous garden surrounding a 15th century home with vines of Ribolla Gialla, Picolit, Verduzzo, Scioppetino and Refosco in full bloom. This is the oasis known as Ronchi di Cialla, the best of crus in Friuli and home to the most memorable white wines I’ve ever tasted from Italy, period.

The Rapuzzi family has owned the property for 45 years and Paolo Rapuzzi relentlessly holds on to the traditions of the area. His staunch stance on only using indigenous varietals is about more than money. It’s about history…and it was history that he made when he “rescued” the Scioppetino grape from extinction. He was given an award by the Italian government for doing so in 1975. Legendary, yes, but how are the wines?

Amazing…just take a sniff and swirl of these wines and you’ll be in love. They are unique, extremely food friendly and age effortlessly (I tasted back to 1997 at the winery) continuing to gain depth and intrigue. They are superb blends of Ribolla Gialla, Verduzzo and Picolit.

2007 Cialla Bianco – One year in bottle and one in barrel give this the tools to display its waxy white fruits, almond and lemon drop tones. Long finishing and young with a vibrant tangerine note in the resolution. $38

2004 Cialla Bianco – More developed nose and palate with briny tones, white fruits, spice cake, floral honeysuckle notes and hints of apricot. This is a dynamite wine with white asparagus risotto, as I can personally attest. $52

1999 Cialla Bianco – Outstanding aromas of vital white fruits, this seems to have barely aged a bit. Very fresh fruit cocktail, clover honey, melons, macadamia, and sea salt. Like breathing in fresh ocean air, this is what wine dreams are made of…miraculous length and freshness. Wow! $65

These wines are great, period...end of story!

JCB the 4th

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