Friday, January 11, 2008

WBW #41: Friuli-Venezia Giulia white wines

We are very excited about our first Wine Blogging Wednesday entry. So excited that we botched it a little!

Finding the Wine
I had hoped to find a 2006 Friulano Blanco as recommended by Boulder sommelier Bobby Stuckey in this month’s issue of Runner’s World (since we lived there for 8+ years), but as our hosts at Fork and Bottle indicated, it was not easy to find any Friuli-Venezia-Guilia at the recommended price point in any of our usual shops.

We started by trekking down to one of the larger liquor stores in our area and could only come up with an $8.99 bottle of Ruffino. So, by the following weekend, when after another unsuccessful shopping trip at an actual Wine Shop I found a bottle marked “Friuli” at a small package store, I leapt for it. The next day, we finally went into our neighborhood ‘Liquor Locker’ where we found at last the coveted bottle of >$18 Friuli-Venezia-Guilia.

Only after we got all three bottles together, did we realize that one didn’t fit the profile. We included it anyway!

The Flight:
Ruffino Lumina Pinot Grigio 2005
First impression was oak and grapefruit zest, followed by mineral--reminiscent of a Chardonnay.

Albola Pinot Grigio 2005 (the renegade!)
First impression was of brie, and fig and reminiscent of a Sauvignon Blanc.

Bortoluzzi Pinot Grigio 2006
First impression was that it was very similar to the Albola: More stinky fromage, and fig, as well as Clementine. This one however, was more like a Riesling than a Sauvignon Blanc with a fizzy mouth feel.

Second Impressions
After going back to the Ruffino, the nose has gone harsh, almost chemically. Taster A smells heavy toast and I smell carbonized lighter fluid. Taster A suggests it smells like over-toasted pine-nuts. Let’s find out! We burned some pine-nuts over the stove and took a whiff: I then smelled the Ruffino and now it smelled like burnt nuts with tree fruit. More pleasant than a chemical fire but, still not my item!
I thought the Bortoluzzi, with its Riesling character would pair well with baklava—it definitely has a honey aroma. Taster A said “no way.” So, we got out some honey: I think it worked. Taster A thought it made the wine taste sour.

With the undeniable odor of cheese from the Albola and Bortoluzzi, I figured a natural choice would be brie. The Albola actually stood up to the brie better than the Bortoluzzi. That leaves us with only the theoretical pairing of Mu Shu pork for the Bortoluzzi, or anything that you would pair with a dry Riesling.
The Albola went well with brie, and also with split pea soup. The Ruffino wasn’t bad with split pea soup either (think liquid smoke).

Final Thoughts
Quality followed the price point pretty consistently with the Ruffino being the most rustically manipulated, and the Bortoluzzi the most refined. For our money, the Albola at $12.99 and with a little more backbone than the Bortoluzzi was the best choice (oops! the non-Venezia-Giulia took the prize--the Bortoluzzi was the winner in the Venezia-Giulia division :))

We were really happy with our flight of three Friuli wines which gave us a chance to get a feel for the broad range of flavor characteristics that can be achieved with one varietal: Pinot Grigio. We had the charry chardonnay-like Ruffino, the taut Sauvignon Blancesque Albola, and the eloquent Riesling-reminiscent Bortoluzzi.

The Details
Ruffino Lumina
2005 Pinot Grigio
Venezia Giulia IGT
Alcohol: 12.5%
Cost: $8.99

2005 Pinot Grigio
Friuli Aquileia DOC
Alcohol: 12%
Cost: $11.99

2006 Pinot Grigio
Venezia Giulia IGT
Alcohol: 13.5%
Cost: $19.99


Jack at Fork & Bottle said...

Wow, excellent post!

The Ruffino sure doesn't sound appealling - charry chard is not what Friuli pinot grigio is all about.

Taster B said...

Jack: We didn't think so either. ;)I'm happy to report the 2006 Ruffino is much better. Not sure what they were trying to mask in the 2005...