Posted by: tomciocco | August 3, 2013

REFOSCO – AN ANCIENT RED FROM THE CROSSROADS OF EUROPE

The name “Refosco” is a sort of baseline name for a family of grapes that includes such sub-varieties as Refosco d’Istria and Teran which grow in Croatia and Slovenia respectively, and then on the Italian side of the border, vines like Refosco di Faedis, and Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso which are native to Friuli, Cagnina that hails from northern Romagna, and way off of this part of the map, the French Savoiarde variety Mondeuse, though the relation of this variety to the greater Refosco family is still hotly debated.

One thing that is for sure is that Refosco as a distinctive cultivar is really old. Beginning with the Roman historian Pliny, to the Renaissance Friulian writer Francesco di Manzano, through to the present day, there is an unbroken written lineage describing a dark-skinned, sharply flavored, grape variety with red stems that is undoubtedly Refosco. Despite the great fame and long history of grapes like  Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, and Riesling, there are very few grapes that can demonstrate a direct written lineage deep into antiquity like Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso can.

Despite all of the many permutations present in this family of vines, this evening’s wine is clearly and indisputably made from Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso which translates to “Refosco with red stems”, and which is most often considered to be one of, if not the finest Refosco sub-variety which is grown quite extensively in the Colli Oreintali del Friuli (“Eastern Friulian Hills”) which today, and for about a hundred years has fallen within the borders of Italy (barely), but at times has been in Slovenia. And even though C.O.F. is officially located in Italy, the current border is still very “porous” with lots of friends, family, and business ties residing on both sides of it.

This area of the world has been a melting pot for centuries and continues to be so today. In this region the Latin, Slavic, and Teutonic worlds profusely bleed into each other, and many if not most folks who come from this area of the world are great polyglots, often speaking two, three, or more languages. And just like the people, the cuisine in this region shows the same multi-culti tendencies. In keeping with this tradition, I served a risotto with some less-than-typically Italian risotto ingredients like carrots, yellow squash, and chervil, followed by Borlotti beans stewed with Hungarian-style fresh kolbasz sausages (the food traditions of the Austro-Hungarian still loom large here), wine, sage, wax peppers, and onions.

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Colutta Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso Colli Orientali del Friuli 2010

Blackish, deep purple color with garnet reflections. Pungent and powerful nose of blackberry and mulberry fruit followed by intense notes of licorice, melted dark chocolate, sandalwood, dried red flowers and herbs, and charcoal smoke. The palate is full, broad and intense with a super-spunky high acidity and a chewy, wiry texture with rustically elegant flavors of damson plums, black cherry, black currant, myrtle, cinnamon, and sassafras. Very dry and powerful finish with hints of burnt orange peel. 

 

 

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