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Posts Tagged ‘Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Orange line

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The Mo’ Wine Group have been fans of Radikon’s “blue label” orange wines since discovering the Oslavje when it was a private import. All three wines are now carried by the SAQ, albeit in minute and fast-disappearing quantities. This year, though the 2010s were released on different dates, all three were on the monopoly’s shelves for a few days in late February or early March, giving us our first opportunity to taste them side by side.

The wine-making is the same for all three cuvées. The manually harvested grapes are destemmed, then placed in neutral Slavonian oak vats (no temperature control) for maceration and fermentation with indigenous yeasts and manual punch-downs three or four times a day. When alcoholic fermentation is complete, the vats are topped up and closed until the wine has been in contact with the skins for two to three months. The grapes are then gently pressed and the wine is racked into neutral 25- to 35-hectolitre Slavonian oak barrels for about 40 months’ maturation, with further racking performed as needed. The wines are bottled unfiltered, unfined and with no added sulphur and aged another six months in bottle before release.

The bottles are 500 ml because the late Stanko Radkion felt that is the ideal amount of wine for one person to drink by himself or for two people to share, assuming they’ll also share a 500 ml bottle of red. Convinced that using a standard cork would allow too high a rate of oxygen exchange, he designed his bottles to have smaller bore necks and long, narrow corks. Long corks usually indicate that a wine is age-worthy and, in fact, the ageing potential of these wines is not in doubt: opened last year, a bottle of the 2002 seemed at or near peak and likely to remain so for another 10 years.

Venezia Giulia 2010, Jakot, Radikon ($44.25/500 ml, 13571312)
100% Friulano (formerly known as Tocai Friulano, as referenced by the cuvée’s name, which is Tokaj – the Hungarian spelling – spelled backwards) from organically farmed vines. 13.75% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Lovely, wafting nose that elicits several unexpected fruit descriptors, including “preserved plum,” freeze-dried strawberries and “peach Melba.” Swirling and time bring out savoury aromas, including yellow spice (turmeric, saffron), beeswax and old wood, and a hint of oxidation. Quite substantial on the palate. Zingy acidity pushes the fruit into citrus territory (kumquat, maybe?), while light tannins dance across the palate. Mineral and savoury threads intertwine with the fruit and last well into the long finish. A dense yet cutting wine with great focus: intense and exciting now but sublime in 10 years. (Buy again? Def.)

Venezia Giulia 2010, Oslavje, Radikon ($44.25/500 ml, 13571283)
A blend of Chardonnay (40%), Sauvignon Blanc (30%) and Pinot Grigio (30%) from organically farmed vines. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Complex, engaging nose of honey, “cedar,” “anisette,” pear compote, sultanas and a jasmine-like floral note. In the mouth, it’s rich and smooth, verging on opulent, despite the underlying acidity and tannic rasp. The flavours are less fruity, more savoury than those of its flightmates, with old wood and minerals providing ballast. Spice, dried fruit, an almond note and a faint bitterness linger. Approachable if a bit monolithic, this will benefit enormously from extended cellaring. (Buy again? Def.)

Venezia Giulia 2010, Ribolla Gialla, Radikon ($44.25/500 ml, 13555953)
100% Ribolla Gialla from organically farmed vines. 13.75% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
At this stage, the most complex bouquet of the three: dried clementine, floor wax, straw and cedar, among other things. Dense, somewhat waxy texture. Subtle tannins provide grain, piercing acidity freshness. A surprising creamy streak marks it out from its companions. Spice and minerals linger. Breadth and length it has in spades; greater depth and complexity will come with time. Astoundingly pure and savoury and nowhere near its prime. (Buy again? Def.)

MWG March 9th tasting: flight 5 of 5

Written by carswell

May 13, 2018 at 11:17

Collio rodeo II

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Collio 2010, Jakot, Franco Terpin ($45.75, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Franco Terpin created his eponymous estate in San Floriano del Collio in 1994. Today he farms 12 hectares on both sides of the Italian-Slovenian border. The estate makes three lines of wines; this is from the mid-range Terpin line. 100% Friulano (formerly called Tokaj, which, spelled backwards, is the cuvée’s name) from organically farmed 60-year-old vines rooted in ponka (poor, stony, friable marl and sandstone). Manually harvested. Destemmed. Macerated and spontaneously fermented 10 days in stainless steel. Matured two months in French oak barriques, 18 months in large oak barrels and one year in the bottle. Unfiltered and unfined. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Vadim Fonta.
Hazy orange, just a tad paler than the Organic Anarchy. Savoury nose of yellow fruit, “eggplant,” old wood and faint honey. Dense but not heavy in the mouth and very dry. Dried stone fruit and orange are layered with spice and cookie flavours. Fluent acidity keeps things lively while ghostly tannins add texture. Blond tobacco joins the persistent fruit on the long, saline finish. Such an appetizing wine! (Buy again? Yes, especially to pair with fish and cheese.)


Collio 2011, Ribolla Gialla, La Castellada ($53.00, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Founded in the mid-1950s, the estate is located in Oslavia in the Gorizia hills close to the Slovenian border. 100% Ribolla Gialla. The organically farmed vines average 35 years old. Spontaneous fermentation with 60 days’ maceration. Spent one year in stainless steel, two years in Slavonian oak barrels. Unfiltered and unfined. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vadim Fonta.
Coppery orange with salmon glints: definitely an orange wine. Subdued nose with faint honey overtones and, eventually, stone fruit and minerals. Smooth and elegant on the palate. Subtle layers of flavour (dried apricot, minerals, faint vanilla). Sleek acidity banishes any notion of heaviness. A cheese note surfaces on the long finish. Tasty and satisfying. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG October 13th tasting: flight 5 of 9

Written by carswell

November 29, 2017 at 12:16

Collio rodeo

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For its October agency tasting, the Mo’ Wine Group welcomed the personable Vadim Fonta, whose currently nameless wine agency – unofficially Agence sans nom – is usually referred to by his name. A couple of years ago, Vadim gave up a career in finance for one in wine, a field he felt far more passionate about. His primary focus is on a niche not particularly well represented in Quebec: organic, biodynamic and natural wines from Slovenia, the Balkans and eastern Europe as well as Italy, especially the northeast.

Once again the wines weren’t exactly in flights, though I’ve arranged them into such for reporting purposes.

Collio 2015, Bianco, Edi Keber ($40.50, private import, 6 bottles/case)
The estate, which has 10 hectares of vineyards, is located a short distance from the Slovenian border. The family has been making wines for more than three centuries though Keber’s first bottled vintage was 1957. This, the only wine it makes, is a blend of Friulano (aka Sauvignon Vert, usually around 70%), Malvasia and Ribolla Gialla from organically farmed vines averaging 40 years old and rooted in “ponka” – poor, stony, friable marl – soil. Manually harvested. Direct pressed (no skin contact). Fermentation in stainless steel tanks with selected, non-aromatic yeasts lasts three to four weeks. Matured one year in concrete tanks except for 20% of the Friulano, which spent six months in neutral tonneaux. Clarified by settling and fining with bentonite. Total production: 60,000 bottles. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Vadim Fonta.
A bit reductive on opening, then dried lemon and limestone with some Sauvignon Blanc overtones. Rich and dense – not heavy – in the mouth. So clean and pure. Layers of yellow fruit (apple, peach), minerals, spice (anise), “almond blossom” and more make for an engagingly complex palate. Gleaming acidity keeps things fresh. The finish is long and bitter-edged, with herbal notes chiming in toward the end. (Buy again? Yes.)

Collio 2011, Bianco, La Castellada ($53.00, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Founded in the mid-1950s, the estate is located in Oslavia in the Gorizia hills close to the Slovenian border. A blend of Pinot Grigio (50%), Chardonnay and Malvasia from organically farmed vines averaging 35 years old rooted in ponka (see above). The Pinot Gris was direct pressed; the Chardonnay and Malvasia were macerated on the skins for four days. Spontaneous fermentation. Matured one year in stainless steel, one year in 200-litre Slavonian oak barrels, one year in neutral oak barrels and one year in the bottle. Unfiltered and unfined. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: Vadim Fonta.
Upfront minerals (including, per another taster, “plaster dust”) along with yellow tropical fruits and a shot of creamy vanilla. Richer and more honeyed than the Keber yet also “very savoury.” Great breadth, depth and length. The complex of fruit and minerals is sweetened by oak, lightly soured by acidity and complicated by a light but pervasive bitterness. Several tasters found this a little too rich and oaky, though nearly all conceded they might feel differently if it were served with a fancy seafood dish. (Buy again? A bottle for experimenting with food pairings.)

MWG October 13th tasting: flight 1 of 9

Written by carswell

November 21, 2017 at 12:50

Textbook and tasty

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Collio 2016, Friulano, Korsič ($29.25, private import, 6 bottles/case)
Though the Korsič family has lived in the village of Gaisbana in San Floriano del Collio, near the Slovenian border, for nearly two centuries, the winery proper was founded in 1976. Run by Rodofo Korsič, it has 10 hecatres of land and seven vineyards. The grapes for this 100% Friuliano (aka Sauvignonasse, Tocai Friulano and Sauvignon Vert) come from biodynamically farmed vines averaging 30 years old. Manually harvested. Sees only stainless steel until bottling. The strikingly shaped bottle is designed to use less glass and smaller corks than usual. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinealis.

Pretty, fresh, perfumy nose of pear nectar and dusty minerals. Clean and bracing in the mouth, somehow both ephemeral and intense. The ripe, round fruit is carried on a gurgling stream of minerals and acidity. Long and, despite initial impressions, very dry. A faint bitterness and herby/resiny note linger appetizingly. A textbook – and tasty! – example of the whites from this region. (Buy again? Gladly.)

WMG September 14th tasting: flight 3 of 9

Written by carswell

October 27, 2017 at 13:55

A Crémant de la Loire and a Prosecco

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Crémant de la Loire, Symphonie de la Désoucherie, Domaine de la Désoucherie ($26.00, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A traditional method sparkler made from a 50-50 blend of Menu Pineau (aka Arbois) and Chardonnay from Cheverny. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Mon Caviste.
Quiet nose showing hints of apple, yeast and lees and a floral note. Softly effervescent. More minerally than fruity, with brilliant acidity and an intriguing bitterness on the long finish. Not remarkably complex but very tasty and so refreshing. (Buy again? Yes.)

Prosecco, Amor, Canto alla Moraia ($29.00, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Glera from organically farmed vines. The estate is based in Tuscany but, per appellation rules, the grapes for this wine were grown in the Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions. The grapes are direct-pressed and the juice immediately separated from the skins. After alcoholic fermentation, the wine is translated to airtight stainless steel tanks for low-temperature secondary fermentation using the Charmat method. Under three bars of pressure. Flip-top stopper. Residual sugar: 14 g/l. 11% ABV. Quebec agent: Mon Caviste.
Hazy light straw and a fine bead. Savoury nose marked by floral, jalapeño, honey and “peaty” aromas but not a lot of fruit. Light, bright and flavourful in the mouth with a fine, tickling fizz, browning apple and pear, a dusting of chalky minerals and a long, faintly sour-edged finish. Drier than the residual sugar level might lead you to believe. Fresh and appetizing. (Buy again? Yes, though I wouldn’t complain if it cost a few dollars less.)

MWG November 10, 2016, tasting: flight 8 of 9

Written by carswell

January 19, 2017 at 15:15

Rad icon

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IGT Venezia Giulia 2007, Ribolla Gialla, Radikon ($52.00/500 ml, 12493121)
100% organically farmed Ribolla Gialla. Manually harvested. The grapes were destemmed, then placed in neutral Slavonian oak vats (no temperature control) for maceration and fermentation with indigenous yeasts and manual punch-downs three or four times a day. When alcoholic fermentation was complete, the vats were topped up and closed. In all, the wine remained in contact with the skins for between three and four months. The grapes were gently pressed and the wine racked into neutral 25- to 35-hectolitre Slavonian oak barrels for about 40 months. Further racking was performed as needed. No added sulphur, no filtering, no fining. Reducing sugar: 1.7 g/l. 13.75% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
Carafed. Hazy bronze, looking a little like raw cider. Very funky-reduced for the first four hours, then redolent of cedar, dried apricot, straw, white spice, sawed pine and shoe polish. Similarly complex and disconcerting on the palate. Medium-bodied. Extracted and yellow-fruity yet so dry and savoury. Richly textured with subterranean limestone, fine-edged acidity and light tannins that swell on the long, long finish. Fascinating. Serve no cooler than cool room temperature (16-18°C). (Buy again? Yes.)

The wine’s balance and structure make it a candidate for aging. And age well these wines do: opened last winter, a bottle of the first Radikon wine available in Quebec, the 2002 Oslavje (a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc), was a thing of beauty – perfectly at peak, tannins resolved, sweet and savoury and, against all expectations, totally funkless.

The wine comes in 500 ml bottles because Stanko Radkion feels that 500 ml is the ideal amount of wine for one person to drink by himself or for two people to share, assuming they’ll also share a 500 ml bottle of red. Convinced that using a standard cork would allow too high a rate of oxygen exchange, he designed his bottles to have smaller bore necks that take very long, narrow corks.

MWG October 8th tasting: flight 7 of 7

Written by carswell

October 27, 2015 at 11:05

MWG June 12th tasting: Terrano fortunato

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A member of the Refosco family, Terrano is an ancient grape variety grown mainly around the northeastern Adriatic in Croatia, Slovenia and a sliver of Italy that includes Trieste, whose basic red wine it makes.

IGT Venezia Giulia 2010, Terrano, Benjamin Zidarich ($34.85, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% Terrano. While the estate isn’t certified organic, it uses no synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides in its vineyards. The grapes for this wine where manually harvested, crushed and macerated on their skins in open vats for four weeks, with four punch-downs a day and no temperature control. Alcoholic fermentation was spontaneous, with ambient yeasts. The wine was transferred to large oak barrels for malolactic fermentation, then to a mix of medium and large Slavonian oak barrels for approximately 20 months’ maturation. Bottled unfiltered, unfined and with a small dose of sulphur. Total production: 4,000 bottles. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV/Insolite.
Earthy, spicy, red fruit and peonies. Exuberantly fruity, even juicy, but dry: a middleweight with incisive acidity, velvety tannins, a slatey substrate and great purity. Vibrant right to the end of the faintly saline finish. Though delightful, our bottle should have been cooler (say, 16-17°C), like the one at Le printemps dézippé, where it was one of the standout reds. (Buy again? Done!)

In La Terra Fortunata, Fred Plotkin writes that Terrano “is a versatile wine that pairs with many foods from the Tirestine and Carso kitchens, including cevapcici (ground meat patties), pork products, cheeses, potatoes, cabbage, and fruit. The most famous pairing is one of the simplest: the Terrano and ovi duri (hard-boiled eggs) that one can consume in any buffet in Trieste.”

Written by carswell

July 2, 2014 at 11:40

Tocai, er, not Tocai

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Collio 2009, Friulano, Mario Schiopetto ($25.90, 11450066)
100% Tocai Friulano. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. Aged on the lees for eight months. 13% ABV.
Sour straw, orange blossom, honey, chalk and quartz. The unctuous texture has you thinking the wine will be sweet but, no, it’s actually quite dry. There’s plenty of acidity too, though the extract makes it easy to miss. The fruit is understated, the minerals aren’t. Both are subsumed in a final swell of bitterness and a faint alcoholic burn that fade into blanched almonds and pear. (Buy again? Yes, unless I can score some of Borgo San Daniele‘s peerless bottling. Yo, oenopole!)

Better at table than as an aperitif, it proved a passable match for a herb-scented stew of mussels, cranberry beans and tomatoes. A better pairing for the stew would have been a less dense, bone-dry white (a Pecorino, maybe, or an Assyrtiko). A better pairing for the wine would have been something like tagliolini tossed with prosciutto, cream, Parmesan and poppy seeds.

Written by carswell

September 12, 2012 at 09:49

MWG March 2nd tasting: report (2/4)

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Venezia Giulia IGT 2008, Red Angel on the Moonlight, Jermann ($27.35, 11035786)
Pinot Noir and possibly a dollop of Merlot. Aged a year in French oak barrels and tuns. Deep burgundy to the eye. Mint, light red berries and a hint of oak on the nose. Medium to full-bodied, dry and silky. Ripe fruit shares spotlight with slatey minerals and oak. Bitterish finish. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Pinot Noir 2009, Unfiltered, VQA Prince Edward County, Hardie Wines ($35.00, LCBO 125310)
Update (12-03-22): This wine (and two others from Hardie’s stable) has just been added to the SAQ catalogue ($38.50, 11638499).
Clear, pale ruby, almost corail. Sour cherry, beet, earth, a little spice. Light, acidic, refreshing despite some woody overtones. Sweetens as it breathes, showing more structure (minerals and fine tannins). Decent finish. (Buy again? Hard to justify from a QPR standpoint but if the price ever drops to $25, sure.)

Breganze 2009, Pinot Nero, Maculan ($18.80, 11580987)
Again, deep burgundy. Cherry – a bit candied – and a hint of smoky tar. Smooth and velvety, the juicy fruit given shape by supple tannins and soft acidity. Not particularly deep, long or Burgundian but at $19, who’s complaining? (Buy again? Sure.)

Written by carswell

March 11, 2012 at 13:48