Wednesday, January 16, 2008

WBW #41: Friuli-Venezia Giulia White Wines

Wine Blogging Wednesday, started by by Lenn Thompson of Lenndevours is hosted by Jack and Joanne of forkandbottle. For the theme of this installment, they have chosen white wines from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia DOC of Italy. The Friuli-Venezia Giulia region is located at the northeast corner of Italy, bordered by Austria in the north, Slovenia in the east and the Adriatic Sea in the south. Although this region outputs only about 2% of Italy's total wine production, its quality is very high and is often compared to the offerings of Piedmont and Tuscany.

Frankly, I know very little about Italian wines. Accepting the WBW challange really forces me to go outside of my comfort zone and learn about new varietals and producers. After conducting some research, I settled on choosing Tocai Friulano for this WBW. Why Tocai Friulano? You may ask. It is becauseTocai Friulano is the most widely planted grape in the Friuli DOC and no other grape is blended into Tocai Friulano wines.

Jack and Joanne are correct about the difficulty in finding good Friuli wines in most wine retailers. Among the wine shops I frequent, there is plenty of Pinot Grigio but rarely anything else from Friuli. However, I did find Tocai Friulano from a few producers at Garnet Wines ranging from $14 to $18. In spite of warnings from Jack regarding the 'excitement factor' of Friuli wines costing less than $18, I decided to pick 2 relatively lower-priced wines from the Colli Orientali del Friuli appellation with the same retail price to conduct an A/B test:

2005 Sirch Tocai Friulano Colli Orientali del Friuli
Price: $13.5, ABV: 13%, Closure: Cork
Sirch has a website but there it is only in Italian. The US importer is Summa Vitis Inc.

Tasting Notes:
Color: Pale golden

Nose: Delicate aroma of flowers, peach and some other fruit I cannot identify. Slight hint of honey.

Palate: Quite lean and fresh with lively acidity. Flavors mostly of ruby grapefruit with a touch of peach. A mineral edge is also noted.

Body: Light to medium.

Finish: Long and clean. Quite peppery.

2006 Bastianich Tocai Friulano Colli Orientali del Friuli
Price: $13.5, ABV: 13%, Closure: Screwcap
Azienda Agricola Bastianich is owned by Lidia Bastianich (the famous Italian-American restaurateur) and her son Joseph. The wine is imported by Dark Star Imports (Tel: 646-312-8921)

Tasting Notes:
Color: Light golden. (Darker than the Sirch noted above)

Nose: Vibrant nose. Smoke, ripe peach and dry herbs. However, as wine warms, there is a strong aroma of rubber (like the smell from a fresh box of rubber bands)

Palate: Lively acidity with a mineral edge. Flavors mostly of pears with a touch of herbs. Notes of almond.

Body: Medium. (Fuller than the Sirch noted above)

Finish: Long (a tad shorter than the Sirch), clean but slightly bitter. Peppery (lighter than Sirch). Notes of pear and lime zest.

The Sirch is lighter and more delicate than the Bastianich. Both wines are very balanced. We paired them with broiled salmon stuffed with crab meat and both wines works really well. The Sirch is a perfect spring/summer wine and the Bastianich can be a summer/fall wine due to its fuller body.

Both of these wines are tasted over a 3 day period (using Vaccvin and refrigeration). The best showing is on the 2nd day but there is no noticeable loss of aroma and flavor even at the 3rd day.

Tocai Friulano is an interesting varietal. Its nose reminds me of Sauvignon Blanc and flavor of Chardonnay. Although it does not have great complexity and probably is not even the best wine produced from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, it is definitely a fantastic food (seafood, sushi) and a cocktail wine (prosciutto as h'or derves?) at an affordable price. Whether you like or not is a matter of personal preference.

Thanks to Jack and Joanne for suggesting this wine theme.


David McDuff said...

Sounds like the Sirch wines are good everyday values (Brooklynguy wrote up their Ribolla Gialla). I went for under-$20 bottles as well, in spite of Jack's warning/suggestion, but had a solid hit with only one of three.

The rubbery aroma you detected in the Bastianich Tocai was most likely a sign of reduction, a chemical reaction often associated with the reductive (non-oxidative) aspects of screwcaps. If it wasn't too severe, it should have blown off by the second day. Did you find that to be the case?

RougeAndBlanc said...

Hi David,
Thanks for the explanation on the reductive aspects associated with screwcaps. The rubbery aroma did blow off after the 2nd day.
I find both Sirch and Bastianich to be good everyday values (Winelibrary sells the Bastianich for $11). However, with so many good value wines in the market, I am not sure if I will rush out to stock another Tocai on my rack just yet.

Jack at Fork & Bottle said...

These two aren't that exciting; most of the under $18 wines are just wine, not interesting.

And I so agree, the wine is very food friendly.

RougeAndBlanc said...

I agree with you that these two wines are not memorable. That said, they did provid a foundation for me to seek for Frilui wines on a higher level.

Schliecker said...

I wasn't able to participte in this one but the Bastianich wine is one that's on the list at their Becco restaurant in Times Square. Solid food wine and a decent value.