I really didn’t want to get a Pinot Grigio for this month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday tasting of Friuli-Venezie Giulia whites, hosted by Fork & Bottle. I know that if they make Pinot Grigio well anywhere in Italy, it’s in Friuli, but still. There are all these other interesting white wines coming from this region, not the least of which is Tocai Friulino. I’d been reading all about them in Vino Italiano: The Regional Wines of Italy, the book we’re reading right now in our Wine Book Club. And then, two things happened.
First, I decided that my unreasoning, stubborn resistance to Pinot Grigio, even when I knew it would be well made and really interesting to drink, is unnecessary and stupid. Great wine is great wine, no matter how many people make plonk from the same grape all over the place. Second, I saw this adorable bottle with its cute little twig wrapped up in ribbon and a strong recommendation from the wine buyer at Specs. Cute, almost definitely good, and cheap? Italo Cescon Pinot Grigio Friuli Grave DOC 2006 here we come!
The twig, by the way, called a tralcetto in Italian, is attached to the bottle as a tribute to patriarch Italo’s grandmother Anna, who had a practice of keeping a bit of dead grapevine in her pocket after harvest as a remembrance of the vine’s rebirth in the spring. Or at least, that’s what the back label said.
Anyway, here goes tasting wine with one nostril tied behind my back: Straw-gold in color. Mineral and floral aromas abound, with a brisk lime zest undertone. Also getting an unripe pear or green apple aroma? Orange peel?
Great texture on the palate: rich and mouth-filling, but with a snappy slash of acidity and mineral character. Tart Granny Smith apple, slate, a touch of steel and lightly spiced white peach flavors. Fucking wish I had all my olfactory powers with this wine! Really very sophisticated and full of flair. Racy like anime! Great wine for only $11.59! OK!
This wine really wants shellfish to play with, but I had neither the werewithall nor the fundage to cook myself up some tasty scrimps, this being a lean month at the Castello di Scamp. Thus, I tried our fancy-tasting but reasonably priced wine with two sets of leftovers I had in the fridge; the first, avgolemono soup with spinach and wild rice. The soup really brought out the tart citrus in the wine, and did not complement the floral character or the minerality at all. The mineral, in fact, got quite strident when following the soup.
Second, pork chops baked with mushrom gravy, buttered egg noodles and German-style red cabbage. (The lovely organic red cabbage was in my CSA share from Johnson’s Backyard Garden. They rock my world! OK!) The Pinot Grigio got all clattery, all elbows and knees, with the creamy mushroom gravy (no soup cans here, thanks). OK, so if we didn’t know it already, no creamy ingredients with our PG. What I liked very much was how the wine brought all its spice to market when accompanied by the red cabbage, which has a dash of clove in it. The sweet/sour/spicy nature of the cabbage was an excellent playmate for this wine; I can almost see trying sauerkraut with it. There’s that German influence!
The region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia borders Slovenia and Austria, and proximity has influenced its white wine style. In the last 40 or so years, modernization of winemaking tachniques came into vogue, bringing in its wake cold fermentation, a minimizing of oxygen contact (which can damage the freshness of aroma and flavors), and stainless steel tanks. Italo Cescon’s winery, founded in 1957 and still run by the Cescon family, is a very model of this modern way of winemaking. Their Pinot Grigio Tralcetto (which is a Friuli Grave DOC) is made with all the hallmark modern techniques to make bright, refreshing young wines.
Thanks to Jack and Joanne of Fork and Bottle for a great idea for Wine Blogging Wednesday, and thanks to Lenn at Lenndevours for thinking up this crazy world-wide tasting in the first place! Drink more Friuli! OK!