From: Friuli Colli Orientali, Italy
Taste: Ruby red with bright reflections in color with aromas of white pepper and small red fruit, currants and blackberries. It has a well-balanced minerality; fragrant fruit and spiciness with fine tannins. Absolutely gorgeous & an instant hit if you already love red wines from regions like Burgundy, Beaujolais, Loire Valley, Alto Adige, Vallee d’Aosta, and Piedmont.
Pairing: Spezzatino di vitello (veal and mixed bell pepper stew), bacon empanadas, Pizza Margherita, ragu, beef stroganoff, stuffed bell peppers, charcuterie, eggplant-based dishes, and mushroom-based meals. Vegetarian dishes that incorporate farro, risotto, lentils, and gnocchi or polenta work beautifully alongside this versatile dinner partner. We’re taking our inspiration from bell peppers & sharing a vegetarian pairing today in Martha Rose Shulman’s Stuffed Roasted Yellow Peppers or Red Peppers in Tomato Sauce. PS. We recommend indulging in high quality Parmesan for this recipe.
Ronchi Di Cialla, meaning “hills of Cialla”, is located in a small valley surrounded by chestnut, oak and wild cherry woods in the DOC Friuli Colli Orientali Its story begins in 1970 when Paolo and Dina Rapuzzi bought a property here for the purpose of growing local grape varieties. At the time, they were making their living selling Olivetti typewriters, but they found a property for sale near the border with Yugoslavia, abandoned since the Iron Curtain had fallen twenty-five years earlier. Paolo was attracted to its possibilities because it had olive trees growing on it, which suggested an unusually warm, mild climate this far north. The area’s unique climate characteristics are enshrined in the designation Friuli Colli Orientali DOC - Sottozona Cialla, which specifies, among other things, permitted farming practices as well as the maximum percentage of total surface that can be planted to vines.
By the 1960s, French vines such Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Grigio, which had been introduced during the Napoleonic wars, had become the mainstay of Friulian viticulture, but Paolo and Dina wanted to concentrate on local grapes exclusively. Their research suggested that Verduzzo, Picolit, Ribolla Gialla, Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso and Schioppettino had traditionally been the most appreciated and popular vines.
Schioppettino in particular was an interesting case: the only traces were in ancient manuscripts and in the memory of the elders, and it was officially considered extinct. Paolo and Dina Rapuzzi managed to find about 70 surviving vines in the valley and nearby, which enabled them to propagate a whole new vineyard and resuscitate Schioppettino from the brink of extinction. From the very first test of the new wines, it was evident that Schioppettino would age perfectly and could match the best international grapes with its elegance, complexity and finesse.
It turns out to be illegal to cultivate extinct and thereby unapproved grape varieties in Italy, so, having single-handedly rescued Schioppettino from near-extinction, their next obstacle was to convince the authorities that they should be allowed to plant it! In 1976, Paolo and Dina won the esteemed Risit D’Aur award for their work in preserving this ancient variety.
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