Ronchi di Cialla Friuli Colli Orientali Schioppettino di Cialla 2010
The wines of Friuli are very poorly distributed in Canada, and particularly in BC. This does not mean they are cheap – reputation and quality have led to quite high prices in Europe. So, you will not find a bargain with these wines. What you will find with top producers are some of Italy’s most exciting, distinctive noble wines. Ronchi di Cialla fits in that category.
Indigenous Grapes, Ecosystems and Ethics
Friuli is a biodiverse region with significant climatic variation. This has allowed a variety of grapes and terroir to flourish. Indigenous grapes are an important part of the landscape now where once they were almost extinct. Ronchi di Cialla, founded in 1970, was an important part of the preservation and resurgence of Friuli’s most important local varieties, such as Schioppettino, Refosco, Verduzzo, and Ribolla Gialla.
Why are these grapes, and Schioppettino in particular, important? Firstly, Schioppettino was one of the key grapes that local producers, including the Rapuzzi family that runs Ronchi di Cialla, pushed into the market in the 1970’s when the Italian regulator was not at all supportive. Ultimately, these producers convinced the powers that be to permit the variety and today there are an increasing number of wines made from this grape. Sadly, Schioppettino is quite rare to find in North America, but a report I had read on the blog Do Bianchi back in 2012 indicated that the grape has tremendous merit. It was only this year that I managed to find a bottle.
In my view, Ronchi di Cialla’s version of the grape is outstanding and merits attention. It is truly juicy and aromatic. It is balanced and modest in alcohol. It pairs very well with much western food and has an invigorating flavour and aroma profile.
More importantly, families like the Rapuzzis represent a way of living that in my view is attracting increasing numbers of young people to pursue wine as a career path. In 1970, Paolo Rapuzzi and his wife were fed up working as sales people in a corporate environment. They were sick of having no purpose but reporting to a boss and making a company money. So they chose a path they felt would allow them escape this world. That choice was a choice about ethics. It was a choice about how to live a good life. It is a choice that has been increasingly dissipated by the structures of our society but that is increasingly longed for. It is a choice so very few of us ever take responsibility to make. Sadly, Paolo passed away about two years ago.
This intention is why the wines at Ronchi di Cialla were always fermented naturally and no chemical herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers were ever used. Doing so would have disrupted the Rapuzzi’s ethical intentions. Those intentions rejected the hyper rationalization of the corporate world and instead sought more interconnected balance. The ecosystem in which Ronchi di Cialla’s vineyards are planted protect the vines much better than any chemical interventions: vine pests have natural predators in the local forest, which keep them in check. Though these days such approaches are more common and certainly more written about and valorized, in 1970 it took a very particular ethical choice, derived not from a trend but from a personal intention, to allow for and preserve such an interconnected system. I am glad for it and warmed by the integrity.
This is wonderful wine with purpose that you rarely find in BC. I highly recommend it.
$50 + tax at BCLDB