Above: wine writer Stefano Cosma, editor at Vini Buoni d’Italia (center) with Friuli president Debora Serracchiani (right) and Collio consortium president Roberto Princic (left).
What better way to start off a talk about the wines of Collio than an anecdote about a bat mitzvah?
One of the highlights of my Vinitaly this year — the annual Italian wine trade fair in Verona — was a panel and tasting of Collio wines organized by Vinarius, the Italian association of wine shop owners.
Wine writer Stefano Cosma, Vinarius president Andrea Terraneo, and I each shared our thoughts on a superb flight of wines together with a lively group of wine writers and a retailer or two. And Collio consortium president Roberto Princic and Friuli president Debora Serracchiani (!!! she is super cool!) presented the panel.
For my talk, I remembered fondly my duties as sommelier at my niece’s bat mitzvah reception last summer in La Jolla, California (at Temple Beth El). It was a major wedding-sized affair, with a pizza truck and motivators, a disco ball, and nearly 200 guests.
I had selected a Collio white blend and Nebbiolo from Carema for the red. All things considered, I was sure that the southern California crowd would lean red. My experience in such matters has always been that the average bar or bat mitzvah-goer prefers red over white. But before I could say mazel tov, the caterer told me that she was concerned we were running out of Collio.
According to the latest WineBusiness.com survey of consumer trends, Chardonnay remains the favorite variety among average consumers. And even though Americans still like “fruity red wine” more than any other, more and more white wine drinkers are starting to emerge (at least anecdotally in my experience).
I believe it’s part of a trend that’s owed to the fact that wine awareness has been growing and expanding rapidly in this country for nearly a decade. And we are moving away from the market dominance of red wine.
The focus of our tasting was Ribolla (fresh, youthful Ribolla, not macerated Ribolla), Malvasia, Friulano, and classic white blends.
And while the monovarietal wines were impressive, it was the flight of three 2013 blends that really blew me away. The wines were by three producers I’d never tasted before: Renato Keber, Bracco, and Pascolo.
All were excellent but the Pascolo in particular really wowed me with its freshness, transparency of fruit, and nuanced depth.
One high-profile wine retailer in attendance called the flight a “cannonball.” And he was right on.
WineSearcher.com shows a small amount of R. Keber in New York and a few skus from Bracco in Massachusetts. Nothing comes up for Pascolo.
There is so much fantastic yet undiscovered wine being made in Friuli in general right now. And for a nation ever more thirsty for well-priced nuanced white wine, it would seem that importers have nothing to lose when it comes to sourcing an untapped lake of great whites.
I’ll actually be in Friuli weekend after next and Friulian wines are going to be the focus of a new project that I’ll reveal shortly.
In the meantime, U.S. wine importers: please bring us some more of this groovy stuff!
And thanks to Vinarius and the Collio consortium for including me on the panel. It was a lot of fun and I was thrilled to taste some great and new-to-me wines. Stay tuned for more reports from my tastings at the fairs…