Saturday, April 3, 2010

Tasting Notes: Friuli

Cecilia was in Birmingham this week helping her mom recover from surgery. Good news for her mom (plenty of help). Bad news for you folks, because she left me the keys to the Blogger account. In honor of baseball season starting, just think of me as that lightly-used right-hander in the bullpen.

This past JavaMonkey wine tasting, conveniently enough, occurred on April Fool's Day. This is always a great day for fooling people with pranks. For those of you who are too busy for pranks because you're, say, passing health care legislation or sitting on Congressional committees, you can settle for just making yourself sound like a fool like our wonderful Congressman.

Now I can't speak for Guam, but I certainly wouldn't want Decatur to tip over and capsize. The only prudent action I could think of was to ensure that there wasn't too much wine on Church Street to cause such a thing. Armed with this sense of duty, I arrived at JavaMonkey to find out that five of the six wines were whites. From Italy. And this was no joke.

Uh oh.

For those that don't know my tastes in wine, I typically find Italian whites too light-bodied even with food -- especially Pinot Grigio. It's just a personal thing. Inevitably, though, an Italian wine tasting is going to have one or two, so I feared the worst when I heard that this tasting was tilted towards the whites.

The region of Friuli is located in the northwestern corner of Italy along the Slovenian border. (Token "Italy is a boot" reference: Friuli would be in the middle of your calf muscle. Or right behind your knee if you're into those sort of boots.) The climate of the Friulian plain is good for growing white wine grapes, so that explained the 5-1 split towards the whites. The phylloxera infestation was particularly bad in this region, and winemaking was more or less dormant until the 1970s. When Pinot Grigio's popularity increased in the 80s and 90s, the region's winemaking became very sucessful. (See here and here for some great, in-depth information about the region.)

2007 Villa del Borgo Pinot Grigio, Grave
All of the descriptions of this wine seem to focus on what it's not. It's not aged in oak, it's not aged on the lees, it doesn't use any malolactic fermentation, and despite the name, it's not made in a Village run by the Borg. (Thank you, try the veal, and please tip your waiter.)

For the three of you that didn't run screaming, I can also tell you that it's not a very good wine to pair with a Cuban sandwich. That was my insanely bad choice of dinner before this tasting, and it completely killed this wine. Others noted a strong flavor of lemon pepper. I definitely got the lemon part of that.

I did go back later and try this again, and it struck me as typical for an Italian Pinot Grigio.

Rating: Probably good if you like this type of wine and don't moronically order a spicy sandwich before drinking it.

2008 Marco Felluga Pinot Grigio Mongris, Collio
I had hopes that "Mongris" was going to be some mythical creature of the region, or some beefy type of Pinot Grigio that flourished there. Sadly, it's just a bastardizaion of the word for "single varietal" and the Friulian word for Pinot Grigio. These are also all stainless, but they age on the lees unlike the first one.

This finish on this one caught me off guard. It was very "warm" for a Pinot Grigio, and I think that distracted from some of the fruit. The glossy marketing material describes it as "complex," and I definitely didn't have enough brain power left for complexity on Thursday. This one would probably stand up better to its more fruity cousins from Oregon, and I could easily see it being a good one for the back porch after a hot day.

Rating: Not bad, though the finish was odd.

2008 Russiz Superiore Sauvignon, Collio
This wine is from the same maker as the previous one, but this particular label is aged 85% in stainless and 15% in oak. I took my first whiff, and scribbled down my thoughts. I didn't want to say anything, though, because my comments on the noses of wines have been known to garner me very strong "WTF?!" looks in the past. But then one of the other people at my table said she got the same nose that I had written.

Cat pee.

Yikes. The nose mellowed, but it destroyed anything else in its way. Chalk one up to the power of a wine's nose.

Rating: Ummm... No.

2007 Marco Felluga Friulano and 2006 Marco Felluga Tocai Friulano, Collio
I'm going to cheat and group these two together because they're the same wine from two vintages. The removal of the Tocai has nothing to do with the grapes and everything to do with Hungary getting the EU to prevent any non-Hungarian wine from using Tocai on the label.

These two were about as full bodied as you can get in a white. They weren't as buttery as a Chardonnay and didn't have the grass of a Sauvignon Blanc. They were just pleasantly fruity, though I had a hard time pinpointing a specific fruit (stupid pollen was messing with my nose). The 2007 was a bit more green and acidic that its 2006 counterpart. The 2006 was more intense, but some others found it to be a little musty. Like most Italian wines, food would help both. (I would say seafood, but Cecilia would quickly point out that I always say seafood.)

Rating: Good, very good with a nice Italian fish dish

2005 Tenuta Luisa Cabernet Franc, Isonzo del Friuli
Ahhh... A red at last! And a Cab Franc, no less. A bit unusual in comparison with other Cab Francs I've tasted, there's no oak used in the aging. Perhaps this is what the glossy marketing material meant when it described a "rare personality."

I don't know that I would've had a chance to pick this in a blind tasting. It was far smoother than most Italian reds I've had, and far lighter than most Cab Francs. It reminded me a bit more of a French red like CĂ´tes-du-Rhone -- light bodied, but waiting for the right food to make it shine. The winery's suggestion is a spiced dish or venison. The table suggested that it needed carbs. I'm more inclined to the carb idea (but Cecilia would quickly point out that I'm as inclined to carbs as I am to seafood). Perhaps a nice plate of bruschetta and a seat on the patio of an Italian restaurant in North Beach...

Rating: Very good

1 comment:

Marisa Birns said...

This was a quite entertaining post!

Love your humor.

Yep. No white wine with Cuban sandwich. No wine at all. It's guarapo that's typically drunk with it. (sugar cane juice).

Will definitely stay away from the Cat Pee Wine!

Cecilia should be very proud of you for a job well done.