Category Archives: Colli Orientali del Friuli

Two 2014 Pinot Grigios from Volpe Pasini

for both wines:
Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC, far northeastern Italy; 12.5% ABV
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store on 13 April. Still there.

As these wines came from the same producer and region of Italy, in the same year, with the same % alcohol, at the same price, I wondered whether they were actually the same wine in different packaging.  I am now pleasantly satisfied that they are not.

The Gri Vo’ (photo, right) has the duller label, but who knows, maybe it’s just understatement?  But no, the wine actually is the more dull of the two.  It’s still quite good, showing a hint of apricot that carries through the whole taste of more typical flavors of yellow melon, bright yellow grapefruit, and lime, with a sort of musty (from wood?) minerality and slight bitterness of grape skin.  This is a good wine for the price.

On the first day, I preferred the “Zuc di Volpe” bottling (photo, left).  It is more nervy and subtle, showing integrated floral, lemony, and minerally flavors in close succession, reined in by a slight touch of wood.

The next day, the apricot flavor in the Gri Vo’ integrated with other flavors to resemble tropical yellow fruit with a weight that surprises me in Pinot Grigio.  Still quite tasty.

In contrast to the Gri Vo’, the next day, the Zuc di Volpe bottling was still interestingly, subtly complex, but was rather dull compared to what it had been.  Gone were the bright acid and minerally structure.  Depending on whether you plan to drink it over more than one night, you might prefer the Gri Vo’.  In contrast to other blending experiments I’ve done, I could not find a blend of these two that really improved on either wine alone.

Both of these wines show their age just a little.  Drink them up soon, and there is certainly no reason to wait in this spring heat.

Comelli 2011 Pinot Grigio “Amplius”

Friuli Colli Orientali DOC, (northeastern) Italy; 13% ABV imported by Global Wine Co., San Rafael, CA $4 at the Oakland, CA, store on 7 July.  Seen at Berkeley 14 July.

Comelli_2011_PinotGrigioNot that I have tasted a huge amount of Pinot Grigio, but I find this one quite impressive.  From the start, the color is a darker, more saturated golden yellow than usually seen in PG.  On the palate, the texture is heavier, and the flavors more intense: honeyed straw, yellow apple / golden kiwi, maybe green fig, and what I think is supporting oak.  At first, the wine seemed a little too heavy, but a little while after opening, the lemony acid became stronger and more integrated.  IMO, this is a very tasty bargain. This, from the New York Times Wine Club site (member price $11.48/bottle), explains why this PG is so different than those with which I have been familiar, although I somewhat disagree with their flavor profile:

For their Amplius pinot grigio, Comelli employs a common Friulian technique not often seen outside Italy to extract as much flavor as possible. Some of the carefully handpicked grapes are first soaked, then fermented along with the crushed grape skins, similar to how traditional reds are made. This process yields silkiness, body and flavors that are instantly evident in the glass. Aromas of peach, honeydew melon, apple and tangerine lead in to a striking mineral/fruit balance that continues through the fresh finish.

The next day, the wine is more tart and bitter but still pretty good.

Sariz 2008 Rosso

made from Pinot Noir and Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso; 13% ABV
Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC, (northeastern) Italy
$9 at the Oakland, CA, store on 19 Nov

Sariz_2008_RossoI quite liked the only previous bottle of Refosco I’ve had, so I was quite drawn to this even though I had trouble imagining how it could be complemented by Pinot Noir.  In that previous review, I noted that (from Wikipedia), “The wines this grape yields can be quite powerful and tannic” but “in the attempt of making the wine more approachable to an international palate, recent versions have taken well to new oak and cold fermentation.”  My interpretation of this blend is that it is an attempt to make a more accessible Refosco.

Out of the bottle, the wine pours an inky, dark plum color.  I thought it needed two hours of air in a decanter to start opening up, and was fully open after three.  The nose is pleasant but not strong.  On the palate, I tasted dark plum, purple cherry / black raspberry, earthy black olive, acid of above and some red raspberry, in a medium body.  The flavors of Refosco dominate, but the Pinot delineates and brightens those flavors with lighter-bodied fruit and lighter-flavored acid.  It’s an interesting wine, but somehow it doesn’t really strike me as all that complex or delicious.  If you’re curious about or a big fan of Refosco, I’ll definitely recommend it, but I suspect most folks would be unexcited by it.  However, please further thoughts on this below.

The next day, the saved single-glass screw-cap bottle of this wine still needed about an hour of air to fully open.  Compared to the previous night, it is smoother, better integrated, and a little more complex.  It showed black plum (if there’s such a thing) or blackberry that’s very ripe but not sweet at all, the same earthy black olive, perhaps even tar or asphalt, a little prune, but underlying and mostly hidden is what is probably the Pinot: earthy red cherry, perhaps a little orange, and tangy acid of cherry and raspberry.

For me, at least, this wine, like the other Refosco, required an adjustment in tasting attitude.  I sort of expect a wine to “show me what it’s got” when I taste it.  But with that approach, these Refoscos were initially rather “absent;” there seemed to be not much to them.  However, if I relaxed a little and instead patiently delved into them, there were actually quite satisfying wines waiting for me.  So, overall, I’ll give this wine a cautious Thumbs Up.  I enjoyed the experience, but I won’t be rushing to get more.  I would be more enthusiastic about it at $6 or $7.  If I run into it again, I’ll get another bottle to see what it’s like in a month or two.  And of course I’d be very interested to hear what anyone else thought about it.

Please note!  When I first published this, I wrote that I got it at the Richmond store.  It was at the Oakland store.