Just call it freakin’ Tocai already! (Thank you Il Carpino and Franco Sosol!)

From the department of “it’s hard to be Slow when you’re traveling twice the speed of sound”…

The world of Italian wine moves so fast these days that we often forget that the mosaic of Italy’s vinous treasure is as endless as it is wondrous.

I was reminded of this eternal truth last week at the Slow Wine Guide tasting in San Francisco when I tasted a wine from an estate that I’d never heard of before: the Sosol family’s Il Carpino farm in Collio (Friuli).

The wines were stunning, especially the Tocai (above). And I was thrilled to see that they label called it Tocai and not Friulano. That’s actually not surprising. In 2007 a ruling from the EU made it illegal to write Tocai on wines that were sold outside Italy (the decision was the result of Hungary’s complaint Italian Tocai created market confusion with Hungarian Tokaj). But as long as the wines are sold with Italy’s borders, it’s legal to label it Tocai (and the Sosol family openly calls it Tocai on their website).

Some years ago, one of the great pioneers of Friuli’s macerated wine movement, Radikon, began labeling their Tocai as Jakot, a hypercorrective anagram of Tocai (the j in Jakot is a reflection of the vowel’s quantity — long vs. short, in Latin grammar [yes, j is actually a vowel] — and the k is a sensational rendering of the c; both hypercorrections allude to Latin rendering of the Hungarian Cyrillic).

The sardonic workaround reflected Italian growers’ frustration at being forced to rename some thing they view as part of their (agri)cultural heritage.

I’ve never seen Il Carpino in the U.S. and I have no idea who imports or is looking at importing them. But whoever it is, they’ll be taking my money soon! Run don’t walk for these wines.

Another highlight for me at the tasting last week was Pievalta’s 2012 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Riserva San Paolo. I used to do some writing for the Barone Pizzini group, which includes the Pievalta estate. That’s BP COO Silvano Brescianini in the photo above. I’ve followed the wines since the earliest vintages and I really believe this year’s release and next year’s, from the 2013 harvest, are really going to put the little-biodynamic-estate-that-could on the map for good. Great wines.

Speaking of the 2013 harvest, I was also stoked to taste the new release of G.D. Vajra’s Barolo Bricco delle Viole. What a vintage for this wine!

That’s Vajra’s international ambassador Giuseppe (right, in the photo above) with my colleague from Rossoblu in LA (where I write the wine list), Skylar Hughes. I’ve followed these wines for nearly two decades now and I’ve watched Giuseppe grow into his role as the face of the winery over the last eight years since I first met him. It’s been remarkable to see and I know the 2013 vintage is going to be a legacy harvest for him and his family.

There were so many great wines at this year’s event (which had a different lineup in every city). La Mesma, Zidarich, Pino, Amalia… and many more.

Later this week, I’ll post notes from the California wineries who participated and the release of the new Slow Wine Guide to the Wines of California (I’m the coordinating editor of the guide). Stay tuned and thanks for being here.

2 thoughts on “Just call it freakin’ Tocai already! (Thank you Il Carpino and Franco Sosol!)

  1. ‘Some years ago, one of the great pioneers of Friuli’s macerated wine movement, Radikon, began labeling their Tocai as Jakot, a hypercorrective anagram of Tocai (the j in Jakot is a reflection of the vowel’s quantity — long vs. short, in Latin grammar [yes, j is actually a vowel] — and the k is a sensational rendering of the c; both hypercorrections allude to Latin rendering of the Hungarian Cyrillic)‘
    What a great paragraph! I love it.
    And agree, Giuseppe is doing a fantastic job. And one of the nicest wine people I’ve met.

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