November 12, 2011

Schioppettino, Ribolla Gialla and Vitovska – Three Terribly Obscure Italian Grapes

By In Wine Notes

Vitovska Bottles, Skirk Winery Cellars, Fruili, Italy

If there is one thing to excite a wine lover it is the discovery of a new wine. Whether in the form of travel to an previously unvisited wine producing region, the unearthing of an untried grape variety or sampling old, unattainable vintages there will always be something to excite and keep the interest alive.

While traveling across the north of Italy three ‘new-to-me’ grape varieties were indeed discovered. Step forward vitovska, ribolla gialla and schioppettino.

VITOVSKA [Adegga / Snooth]
A white grape variety spread across the Italian province of Trieste and across the border into Slovenia.

The name is believed to originate in Slovenia, and translates as “wine of the rider”. Plantings have been dissected by imposed international boundaries for the whole region was once part of the Austria-Hungarian jurisdiction. Even today family vineyards can be found on both sides of the border. Vitovska is known as Vitovska Garganja in Slovenia. In Trieste, it can also go under the name Organca, or Gargan Gargano. According to Tar and Roses – the Italian Wine Resource, Vitovska, is a cross between Prosecco Tondo and Malvasia Bianca Lunga. It is made into a long lived, dry, white wine.

Sadly Vitovska wine is rare outside its native regions. In the UK I’ve tracked down the Skerk Vitovska 2007 from Carso, Friuli listed by Amordivino for £27.50 a bottle. The Zidarich Vitovska 2007 for £29.56 at Zelas Wine and Food, who also list a Slovenian version, the Cotar – Primorska Vitovska 2007 for £18.50. list the Zidarich Vitovska 2006 for £24.95.

“The nose: discover a fruity, winy in his youth, more silky in maturity, with hints of pear and sage, varietal characteristics of its most aromatic seeds. The palate reveals its personality. Dry, cool properly, sometimes slightly sour and good flavour and good body. “

Vitovska in barrel

RIBOLLA GIALLA [Adegga / Snooth]
A varied collection of therories surround the origin of the white Ribolla Gialla. Some hold that the Romans introduced Ribolla Avola grapes during their rule. Others trace Robola grapes to those cultivated in the Greek islands, especially in Kefalonia, that were imported by the Venetians. But most hold that it is a native grape as the first mentions of it date back to the twelfth century. In 1300 German reporters extolled the qualities of Ribolla cultivated on the hills of Rosazzo.

“The simmering yellow colour is straw yellow with greenish hues and shades. Its aroma has a pleasant scent and delicate, with hints of fruity and floral, finely elegant. The flavour is light and aromatic, dry and persistent. And wine must be consumed within the first two years so that it can fully express all its features.”

A little easier to locate is a decent Ribolla Gialla – Bibendum list the Bastianich Vigne Orsone Ribolla Gialla 2010 for £13.76 a bottle. list Ribolla Gialla from Specogna (2009 £15.45, 2010 £15.95) and Collavini Turian 2009 for £19.55. There is also a blend from Jermann Vinnae (2010, £19.25) which includes a little Friulano and Riesling. Amordivino list the same blend but the 2008 vintage for £18.99. Shame Slurp insists on selling a minimum of six bottles of each…

SCHIOPPETTINO [Adegga / Snooth]
Schioppettino is a magnificent red wine produced on the eastern hills of Friuli, its heritage is old. Historically, as early as 1282, Schioppettino was consumed frequently by the most prominent ruling families, and considered to be an elegant aromatic wine. Also called Black Ribolla/Ribolla Nera, this wine is produced from grapes native of Friuli. Schioppettino, (‘gun shot’ or ‘little crack’) is so named due to the ability of the young wine if bottled young can undergo malolactic fermentation in bottle, which can crack the glass.

Schioppettino can also be eaten as a table grape. Only two DOCs in Friuli are allowed to produce Schioppettino – the Colli Orientali and Isonzo.

Slurp list the Bressan Schioppettino 2005 for £21.95. For more info on this wine do read The Morning Claret – “The Bressan example had masses and masses of sweet raspberry fruit, both on the nose and the palate. Some very subtle oak plus the wine’s naturally powerful tannins gave it serious structure”.

Kante Vitovska 2009

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